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Q&A: Solidcore Owner Anne Mahlum Shares Her Get-Fit-Quick Tips

How to whip yourself into shape for your walk down the aisle.

By Valeria Boucas Solidcore's secret: the Megaformer Pilates machine. Photograph by Studio3877.

There's a reason Anne Mahlum has dubbed herself chief motivational officer of Solidcore, the fitness studio she founded less than a year ago in Adams Morgan. Mahlum has made it her mission to get people in top shape using a patented machine called the Megaformer—and guests who sweat through the 50-minute sessions are seeing results. The in-demand fitness center now has two other locations in addition to the original, which the First Lady is known to frequent.

We asked Mahlum how a bride-to-be can get in shape for her big day if she only has a few months to spare before she heads down the aisle. Like any mindful fitness guru, Mahlum offers ways to tighten up without over-exerting your body in harmful ways. Read on for her tips.

Photograph by PopMotion Pictures.

Design a routine for a bride-to-be with only, say three months, to tone up before she walks down the aisle. 

1) Solidcore three times a week. We will give you a safe, total-body workout where it is impossible to be bored or to plateau.

2) Interval training (running/biking/rowing) three days a week (pick a day to double).

3) Rest two days a week—walking is fine, but if you don’t let those muscles rest and rebuild, they won’t change.

4) Drink lots of water—10 to 12 glasses a day.

5) Live actively—walk to work, go for bike rides. If we work out for an hour a day, but then just sit and sleep the other 23 hours, the math doesn’t work out. Move your body as much as you can.

6) Cut out the processed food, especially sugar, and any liquid calories. Eat real food, and eat consistently. I’m not a big calorie counter, and my days vary between 1,800 and 2,400 depending on my level of activity. I very much believe that the food you put in your body is more important.  However, if you are committed to the workout regimen above, don’t eat fewer than 1,800 calories a day—your body will go into starvation mode and you will not lose weight or see your body change.

What mistakes do you see people making with their workouts? 

I have been extremely active as long as I can remember, and have had many ups and down with my weight and the shape of my body. What I have learned is that you can make substantial changes in your body in 9 to 12 weeks by eating right and by not just exercising, but doing the right type of exercise.The biggest mistake I see people make when they are trying to change their body is they do cardio and that’s it—and to make matters worse, the cardio is not intense, it’s 30 or 45 minutes on the elliptical machine. The fastest and most efficient way to change your body is through resistance training. Your body needs to build muscle to burn fat.

What was the turning point for you to launch your own fitness center?

I have been working out since I was 16 and never came close to results I've seen since starting the Lagree Method. Pre-Solidcore, I was lifting at the gym on my own, running, and doing boot camps. I was in shape, but not the type of shape where you work out without a shirt on. I had never heard of using slow, controlled, resistance-based movement as a workout option before, and frankly, it sounded easy and something “fun” to do—after all, I’m a marathoner. The only impact is your bodyweight—no jumping, no pounding. I thought, "Okay, really, how hard or effective could this be?" It was SO intense. My muscles were burning and shaking all through class, and the next two days, I was sore in all the right places—my abs, oblique muscles and inner thighs. I realized how much of my body I wasn’t challenging and how this method was everything I never knew existed. I was just hoping the results were going to be as good as the burn, and they are.

Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Dara & Alex Santos

Leesburg's Thomas Birkby House provided the classic backdrop for this intimate celebration.

By Valeria Boucas Photographs by Audra Wrisley.

Alex and Dara's road to the altar wasn't without a few minor bumps along the way. When they first met, Alex says, Dara played hard to get—and when he finally mustered up the nerve to ask her out, he was so nervous he suggested a group date at Bluemont Winery so he could have some moral support from his friends. Luckily, his plan worked, and he and Dara hit it off. 

Soon afterward, their budding relationship was put to test when Dara had to juggle two graduate classes in six weeks plus her full-time job. Recognizing Alex's support throughout, Dara realized all she wanted was to spend every moment with him when it was over. Eight months later, they moved in together. 

Three years after that, Alex proposed to Dara at the Jefferson Memorial, surrounded by beautiful cherry blossom trees. As they began planning their wedding, they discovered their perfect location in Thomas Birkby House in Leesburg. "The outdoor terrace reminded me of my grandma's backyard, where she spent many summers drinking root-beer floats and catching lightning bugs as a child," says the bride. Now that their wedding dreams have become a reality, the couple's new focus is expanding the family with a furry friend they plan to adopt from their local animal shelter. 

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Cheryl & Philip Twu

This beautiful DC celebration had a cherry blossom theme.

By Valeria Boucas Photographs by Katelyn James.

Philip and Cheryl met in 2011 while he was finishing up his PhD at Georgia Tech and she was working as a consultant in DC. After a few dates at the Reston Town Center and dinners at Toki Underground and Zaytinya in DC, they realized they were really hitting it off. From their love of travel to their ability to make each other laugh until their sides hurt, they had a truly special connection. Because their relationship started off as long-distance, Philip and Cheryl spent a lot of time on the road, traveling every other weekend to Atlanta, DC, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and even Taipei and Hong Kong.  

Still, when it came to the wedding, they decided to have it in DC, in April when the cherry blossoms were in bloom—and they couldn't have asked for a more beautiful Saturday to hold the celebration. Their vendors and the hotel staff worked very hard to transform the already amazing Crystal Room in the Willard InterContinental into something out of a fairy tale. Philip and Cheryl also made sure the celebration reflected their fun-loving personalities—including catwalking down the aisle to Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" and breaking out into the Harlem Shake in the middle of the first dance.

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Engagement Session

Engagement Photos: Tara Parekh and Jeff Simpson

He popped the question at the site of his latest work project, which happens to be the US Capitol Dome.

By Valeria Boucas Photographs by Jessica Latos.

Jeff Simpson works at Jacobs Engineering, the company spearheading the effort to restore the US Capitol Dome, which is currently under construction. He told Tara they were going to an awards dinner for work on the evening of August 28, 2014. Jeff had his boss leave a fake voicemail on his phone telling him about the event and explaining that he could bring a plus one. "I had overheard the voicemail (how convenient) the day before the event and was so excited to attend because the Capitol is one of my favorite buildings in DC," Tara says. 

That morning, Tara took a dress with her to work to change into for the night's festivities. She rode the Metro over to the Capitol and met Jeff at the Cannon Office Building where they took the underground tunnels through to the Capitol. "In the rotunda, we took some photos of each other, and Jeff brought our Go Pro, so we took a short video too," she remembers. Then, Jeff took Tara to the Speaker of the House's office (John A. Boehner) to allow special access outside. They went out on the balcony and Tara leaned over the railing to look for the Jacobs logo on one of the construction trailers Jeff told her to search for. "I kept looking but I didn't see anything, and when I turned around to ask him where the logo was, Jeff was on his knee with a ring box in his hand," Tara says. "I was stunned, to say the least, and I could not stop smiling. He got me so good!"

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Teresa & Mark Del Rosso

The groom proposed with breakfast in bed on her birthday morning.

By Valeria Boucas Photographs by Havar Espedal.

Mark and Teresa met in October 2012 at a time when they'd both "had enough of the dating scene." Both had been previously married and shared in the upset of constantly meeting the "wrong" people. But when a mutual friend introduced them, they felt instantly drawn to one another. The physical attraction was strong, but they both knew that finding someone good-looking wasn't enough for a lasting relationship. When Mark asked Teresa to dinner, she was hesitant but hopeful, and agreed to go. Two nights later, he picked her up in Foggy Bottom outside her office, "looking dapper in his tailored suit" as Teresa remembers, standing in the rain with an umbrella, ready to open the car door for her.

As they sat down for dinner at Corduroy, they were so enamored with one another that 45 minutes passed before they had even placed their order. At the end of the night, Mark looked at Teresa and asked her to be his girlfriend. "But you just met me!," was her reply. Mark knew he really liked her and she, uninterested in seeing anyone else, said yes. The next day, Mark flew to Germany for business and called Teresa every night he was gone. They were inseparable after that, and eight months later, on Teresa's birthday, Mark proposed over breakfast in bed. 

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Jen & Kevin Brady

Four years after their first date, he proposed on the steps of her favorite monument, the Jefferson Memorial.

By Valeria Boucas Photographs by Liz & Ryan.

Kevin and Jen have always loved Washington, DC, but it was a long road before they eventually tied the knot in the District. After finishing her residency in pediatric dentistry at Children's National Medical Center, Jen took a job in her home state of New Jersey, while Kevin stayed in Washington. Jen visited Kevin whenever she could, and the pair had fun exploring DC's parks and museums and discovering new restaurants to enjoy. Eventually, Kevin eventually moved to New Jersey, where he finished law school; but even though they were finally in the same city, the couple found themselves still visiting DC several times a year. 

On one such visit, four years after their first date, Kevin proposed on the steps of Jen's favorite monument, the Jefferson Memorial. He had photographers Liz & Ryan (who would eventually shoot their wedding) there to secretly capture the moment. Jen and Kevin celebrated their engagement with dinner on the rooftop of the Kennedy Center that night. 

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Maimuna Ahmad & Qasim Rana

Nine years after this couple's first dance at prom, they danced together for the first time as husband and wife.

By Valeria Boucas All photographs by Jennifer Cody.

Maimuna and Qasim met in the fall of 2001 as members of the Muslim Student Association at their high school (both went on to be president of the group). They were not fast friends, however. In fact, they could barely stand each other at first. It wasn't until three years later when Qasim began driving Maimuna and her friends home from school every Friday—in what they all called the MSA bus—that they started to get along. They wound up going to prom together as friends and finally started dating a year after that. Exactly nine years, 11 months, and 17 days after their first dance at prom, the couple danced to their first song together as husband and wife. The rest is history. 

Editor's note: An earlier version of this post contained the incorrect photos. We have corrected the mistake and apologize for any confusion.

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Kristin & Sean Brunett

Sparks flew for this couple, who wed over Fourth of July weekend.

By Valeria Boucas Photographs by Greg Gibson.

Sean and Kristin met in the spring of 2006 while studying abroad in Auckland, New Zealand. What began as a fun friendship full of laughter turned into romance by the end of their trip. Excited about the possibilities, Sean and Kristin decided to embark on a long-distance relationship—with Sean returning to school in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Kristin to Blacksburg, Virginia. Over the next two years, their relationship grew stronger—thanks to Skype and Kristin's visits to see Sean in Hawaii during spring breaks. After they both graduated in 2008, they moved overseas to London together, where Sean completed his master's degree at the London School of Economics, and Kristin worked at a marketing research firm. 

In February 2013, Sean surprised Kristin with a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, to see the Northern Lights—something at the top of both of their bucket lists. They endured the minus 37 degree temperatures while marveling at the beauty of the Northern Lights as they danced through the sky. On that trip, Sean proposed to Kristin, who quickly replied with a "Hell yes I'll marry you!" 

Sean and Kristin settled on July 5 for their wedding, knowing it was a holiday weekend and could make for a really fun Fourth of July rehearsal dinner with the fireworks in the evening. They secured a venue at Top of the Town in Arlington for the rehearsal dinner, which provided a spectacular view of the show. The wedding followed the next day in Old Ebbitt Grill's atrium, complete with cocktails on the roof looking out over the White House and the Washington Monument. 

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Jane & Watson Tanlamai

The engagement happened under Christmas lights, but for this couple’s wedding day it was all about the bubbles.

By Valeria Boucas All photographs by Richard Ellis Photography.

Jane and Watson's love story goes back a decade when they met through a mutual friend at Georgetown University as freshmen. Their love quickly blossomed after their first date—they saw Garden State at the AMC Theater in Georgetown, and the night ended at nearby Thomas Sweets. Eight and a half years later, during a Christmas holiday visit to one of Jane’s favorite places—Peddler's Village in Lahaska, Pennsylvania—Watson proposed. Jane loves the town’s Colonial-style village and would take Watson there every year over the holidays to enjoy warm apple cider, window shopping, and wandering under the holiday lights. To complete her fairy tale, Watson proposed outside in the snow surrounded by sparkling lights in a spot she could only describe as "picture perfect." After about 18 months of planning, the couple tied the knot this past May. 

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Bridal DIY: How to Make a Floral Crown

Shelly Bagdasian of B Floral and Event Design shows us five easy steps to add a personal touch to your wedding.

By Valeria Boucas Photographs courtesy of Shelly Bagdasian.

The flower crown has arguably become as popular as the veil for brides on their wedding day. Gone are the days of long trains and chapel-length veils (although we still love those, too); floral crowns really allow the bride to add a personalized edge to her headpiece and to those of her bridesmaids. We also love the idea of gifting them to the bridal party during a shower or luncheon. Owner of B Floral and Event Design, Shelly Bagdasian, agreed: What better way to personalize a floral crown with all your favorite flowers but to make it yourself too? So here, Bagdasian shows us how to achieve the look in five easy steps. 

Step one

“Collect your tools and get creative. Ribbon, hot glue gun, clippers, wire, pipe cleaners and floral tape. Wrap the pipe cleaners with tape and glue to the ribbon or use a metal band, creating a sturdy base.”

Step two

“Choose your flowers and unique accents like feathers, crystals, ribbons, or metal. Greens, roses, astilbe, blushing bride protea, gold sprayed wax flower accents. When choosing your flowers and materials try to select a variety of sizes and textures.”

Step three

“Wire and tape your flowers, first individually and then together in clusters. Glue the clusters to a leaf or stiff ribbon that can then be glued to the band.”

Step four

“Lay out your design. I suggest trying different combinations before finalizing. I like to leave some of the ribbon band showing when using beautiful and unique ribbons.”

Step five

“I love to do hanging pieces, such as ribbons, chain with metal accents, feathers, etc. Wire any hanging objects to the band!”

And for the festival going-gal, be sure to check out the September issue of Washingtonian to see how our team styled the floral crown on a boho-chic Style Setter. 

Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.

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