A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this package of bridal fitness classes offered by FITiST, an online membership-based course booking platform for people who “love fitness and wellness because they know how great it makes them look and feel.”
My first reaction was to gag slightly. This is just what brides need: another thing to spend money on and stress over. Also, 500 bucks? Ever since I moved to Berlin 18 months ago I’ve found it harder and harder to swallow the inflated prices that define the lifestyles of New York’s most elite. If you’re spending $500 on gym classes alone, how expensive is your wedding?
But who am I kidding? If someone were to buy me that package, I’d be very excited (That’s a hint, you guys). And if I could afford it, I’d probably be a regular FITiST member. The bridal plan would just be a convenient way to start.
This marketing gimmick got me thinking, though. Why was my first reaction to gag? Is it really so bad to want to get in shape for a day that means so much to you?
No. But it can be.
The problem with “bridal fitness” is that it’s a gray area. Clearly there’s a big difference between wanting to exercise regularly in order to start the next chapter of your life feeling healthy and confident and feeding yourself through a nose tube just in order to fit into a dress that’s two sizes too small. (The former is perfectly fine – though I can already hear a couple of Jezebel writers objecting even to that– while the latter is downright dangerous) And while it may be fun to focus on extreme examples of pre-wedding diet neurosis, I don’t think it’s very productive.
It’s the stuff in between, like casual mentions in bridal magazines that of course all brides need perfectly toned arms to go with their fitted strapless gowns, that actually needs our attention.
Take this example, an article published recently on U.S. News: “Bridal Fitness: How to Shape Up for Your Wedding Day.” Although the subtitle (in some weird attempt to ward of gender critics) reads, “Wedding workouts to get brides (and grooms) ready for the big day,” the article actually makes no mention of what men do to prepare for their wedding day. In fact, it pretty much states the opposite.
“People don’t come to the wedding and say, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to see what the groom is going to look like,'” says New York-based fitness and lifestyle expert Amanda Russell. “The big moment of the whole day is” – Russell gasps for effect – “they open those doors,” and … well, there’s a reason the song is called “Here Come’s the Bride (sic).”
The author goes on to suggest bridal boot camps – with cocktails! –, cardio, and strength training before finally warning women of the dangers of crash dieting. And there it is again: Do care, but not too much!
Most of the suggestions made here by Amanda Russell are completely sensible. Exercise regularly, use a buddy system to stay motivated, eat well. “There are no shortcuts.”
I agree, there aren’t.
But most contemporary American weddings are planned under tight deadlines, under stressful conditions, and within a bridal culture that fetishizes picture-perfect moments and unrealistic standards of beauty and physical shape. They practically beg for shortcuts.
This summer, I’m going to stick to my regular routine of running and resistance training, but I would have done that with or without a wedding coming up. Sure, I’ll probably focus on arm tone a little bit more, but I’ve been working on that anyway. I’m wary of letting my fitness goals be dictated by one day. And my relationship with my body has nothing to do with my status as a bride.