07 November 2013 by

Three Ways I Toned Up For My Wedding Day

 ten pilates

I know what you’re thinking. What is that thing? Is it some kind of torture bed? Well, in a way you’d be right. But whilst this reformer pilates bed might sometimes deliver the pain, I’ve found that in the lead up to my wedding it’s also delivered results. And fast. I never wanted to be the kind of bride that got sucked into crazy crash weight loss programmes (why does that happen by the way?) but I did think I’d probably never have a greater incentive to tackle that thing that’s been eluding me for so many years – regular exercise. Sadly, there’s nothing more motivating that realizing that 100 people are going to be holding an iPhone up to you as you walk down the aisle.  

I started with Ten Pilates…

Did you know that you’ve got muscles underneath your shoulder blade that help control your posture? Or that if you’ve got back-ache it’s probably because your glutes aren’t developed enough? Nope, I didn’t either until I started Ten Pilates – a kind of reformer pilates where it’s all about using your own body as resistance.

‘It’s a bit more intense than floor pilates and there is more variety in the exercise,’ explains Ten Pilates trainer Mark Chatterton. He’s right. Whilst it’s clear the moves in the one-hour classes are based on isolating and working individual muscles in a controlled fashion to improve strength and stability, the way you push your body against a bed of springs that offer resistance makes the moves harder and more intense. ‘We build the class around “functional movements” – the lunge to represent walking or running, squats to represent sitting and standing – to build your core and gluts muscles in your butt cheeks which helps your posture in day to day life.’

That’s the theory. The reality is that after an hour of intense moves that make you shake and ache but are doable because they never last more than three minutes, you feel like you’ve had a total body workout. Whilst the instructors will tell you Ten Pilates is great for preventing injuries and illness (‘if your core and gluts are working your lower back won’t have to hold you up as much,’ says Matt) what I’ve really noticed is a rapid transformation – and I don’t use that word lightly – in my body. ‘Because we’re building lean muscle mass, you’ll burn calories more easily and you’ll notice a flatter stomach, toned thighs and a firmer bum.’ The best part? You feel a difference in just 10 sessions and see it in just 20 sessions if you’re going twice a week.

And it’s addictive. I never thought I’d say this about exercise but because you have to concentrate so intently throughout the class on balance and isolating each individual muscle it’s an hour of head-space as well as a workout. Something that, with a wedding coming up, every bride-to-be dreams about…

Then I added in Power Plating…

 Yes, Ten Pilates was great but going twice a week was a time commitment I couldn’t always make – so I needed an easier way. Step forward Good Vibes, which offers 25-minute Power Plating classes I could go to in my lunch-break. Like many people, I was skeptical – surely standing on a vibrating plate was an lazy-person’s type of exercise? How wrong I was! ‘The Power Plate is a vibrating platform – so when you work out on it the vibrations stimulate the muscles causing them to contract and relax 30-50 times a second,’ explained Good Vibes owner Nahid de Belgeonne. ‘It will break down fat cells, improve circulation, flexibility and metabolism – and give you a full body workout in just 25 minutes.’

Three sessions in one week (you can do it every other day if you want) and I was convinced. After a series of squats, press-ups and lunges as well as ballet, pilates and yoga moves on vibrating plates I was aching enough to realize that this worked. ‘It works all of your muscles but in particular gives you a sculpted bottom, legs and core you are engaging your core without even thinking about it as the body tries to find its balance,’ says Nahid.    

The vibrations took a little while to get used to, but you soon forget them when you realize what a difference it’s making. ‘Power Plates helps runners run stronger, it’s made my yoga practice much more powerful and also has helped with my flexibility too,’ says Nahid. And I agree. Which is why I turned to step three…

And finally, I set myself running challenges…

I’ve long been the type of runner who’ll have bursts of ‘good behaviour’ – jogging home from work twice a week, let’s say – but never been able to sustain it. So I decided I needed some targets and signed up for two 10k races in Regents Park. Having something to aim for really helped get me on track, as did tracking my training runs through apps like RunTastic which monitor your time and distance so you can see tangible improvement.

I also turned to Nike, not just for their LunaGlides but also their great communal running clubs. You meet outside a store and a Nike Master Trainer takes you on a route through London, so you can’t stop. Even if you might want to.

So that’s it. My wedding exercise tips. And though my wedding dress didn’t need any taking-in at the final fitting (something to be celebrated rather than commiserated I believe) I did feel more toned, confident and in control. Because in the messing-with-your-head, what-kind-of-font-should-you-have-on-save-the-date-cards it’s quite refreshing having the head-space of regular exercise.


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