Always a Bridesmaid: Busting My Butt at Boot Camp

Bridal boot camp? Katie says yes.

The first day I walked into my Bridal Boot Camp class, I was skeptical. My group met in the corner of the main gym—not a private instruction room. The “don’t sue us” questionnaire I had filled out over the weekend included questions about health conditions only my grandparents would have. I wondered: Would the class end up being packed full of football drills and sprints in the early-summer heat? Would it be completely sedentary weightlifting with no cardio benefit? Would I be all on my own, or would the instructor be stretched in so many directions that she wouldn’t even know my name? I was afraid of being way out of my league, or worse, that I could I have signed up for the land version of senior ladies’ water aerobics.

I discovered that the answer to my questions is “somewhere in the middle.” The workout was very difficult and very different from what I’m used to doing (and by the way, I’ve done water aerobics with senior ladies, and that’s harder than you’d think). I walked out of class feeling that I’d worked so many more parts of my body than in my normal runs or 30 minutes on the elliptical. One of the best components of the class—and one of the things you don’t get in free fitness classes—is very individualized attention. My instructor knows who has pain and prior injuries in what parts of the body. She knows what areas we each want to work on and tailors her workouts to fit our needs. She can tell when we can handle more—even if we wouldn’t volunteer that information. I had told the instructor about my problem areas (most specifically for wedding season: tummy, arms, shoulders, core). And just days after my first workout, all those problem areas were on fire! I’m talking I’ll-skip-the-ponytail-today-because-I-can’t-lift-my-arms-above-my-head on fire.

I signed up for the class with the hope of improving my strength training and toning the muscles I don’t really know how to (or don’t work hard enough to) build on my own. I haven’t dropped my cardio routines throughout the week, and I’ve tried to watch what I eat, but the added benefit of two intense workouts a week and sore muscles all week long has made a difference. After the boot camp, I feel hungrier and more sore than normal. I feel stronger and more limber for the days I go running and do other cardio workouts. And though I need to eat more salads before I’ll have Jennifer Aniston arms, I can tell a difference in muscle mass already.

I’d definitely recommend this type of class to women trying to tone up. You wouldn’t be able to dream up some of these workouts without an instructor—and let me tell you, they don’t explain it on the fitness DVDs as well as your live trainer will. Just the simple action of doing a lunge is something that hurt way less when I did it at home than when I did it the correct way under the trainer’s instruction (dropping your back knee first, keeping your back heel off the ground). Sometimes you just don’t know that you’re doing something wrong—and don’t push yourself as far as you can go—without a little prodding.

Katie, a local bridesmaid-to-be, writes occasionally about planning for and being part of three (and counting) friends' weddings in one year. To follow her adventures from the beginning, click here.

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