When Jessica Thomas became engaged 7 years ago, she frequented local bridal shows to find vendors who could make her wedding day perfect. She saw plenty of florists, photographers and bakers, but one professional was nowhere in sight—a personal trainer. “No one from the fitness industry was at these shows,” says Thomas, who now runs Fit 2 Wed in San Diego. “I wanted to give brides a healthy way to feel fit and gorgeous at their wedding.”
Thomas and other fitness pros are finding that brides are a receptive clientele—and a lucrative market. Discover how savvy personal trainers are successfully attracting brides to help them prepare for their special day.
Different trainers are reaching brides through one-on-one, group and online workouts.
Foresight Personal Training in Manchester, England, sells a 12-week package for brides, says Tom Godwin, the company’s managing director. The package includes a consultation, a nutrition session, 24 one-on-one personal training sessions and a few print publications. (Clients can also choose small-group training options.) Training takes place in the client’s home, in a park or gym, or anywhere that suits the bride’s schedule.
“The standard package is priced at £650 (about $1,000), but most brides tend to bring that up to close to the £900 mark (about $1,390) with the purchase of additional services,” says Godwin.
Jason Keigher, CSCS, CPT, PES, CES, personal trainer and owner of FitBrides in New York City, also helps brides get fit through one-on-one training. “I offer a 12-week in-person fitness program,” he says. “Brides must purchase a package of sessions for the 12 weeks and can meet with me from one to five times a week. I also include 24/7 phone and e-mail support. Rates range from $100–$150 a session, depending on the time of day, location and number of sessions purchased.”
Other fitness pros focus on group training for the camaraderie it affords brides. For example, Amanda L. Ebner, ACE-certified personal trainer and co-owner of bene-fit Fitness in Los Angeles, conducts outdoor bridal boot camps. “We focus on body-resistance and cardio-calisthenic exercises intended to sculpt the upper body and shed fat, the two foremost concerns for most brides.”
Ebner believes in charging a reasonable rate. “Brides are getting overcharged for other items for their weddings, and fitness should be accessible,” she says. “A three-session package costs $50, or they can pay $20 per session.”
Thomas also offers boot camp–style workouts. “Group training costs less, and I find that brides experience better results in terms of body composition and fitness level,” she says. “Boot camps provide friendly competition and a support group that drastically increases their retention and results.”
While the workouts are for groups, the attention Thomas gives brides is individual. “I conduct one-on-one appointments with each bride, to measure her and help her set goals. I also give brides the tools to help them eat the right foods and make lifestyle choices for maximum benefit. [My 12-week program costs] $895, and clients attend at least three workouts a week.”
Lynn Bode, personal trainer and founder of www.workoutsforbrides.com, out of Kansas City, Missouri, offers online training exclusively. “We provide workouts with video demonstrations, nutritional education, personal trainer access, online tracking, an online journal and more,” she notes. “We charge from $59 to $99 for 6 months of access, depending on the package.”
Trainers market their services to brides through a variety of means, ranging from word of mouth to print publications to bridal expos.
Bode reaches would-be clients through Internet search engines and advertising, as well as wedding-related print publications.
Ebner has found that wedding photos are her best marketing tool. “When women see other brides’ tight biceps and toned upper backs, they immediately want to know how to make that a reality for their own bodies,” she says.
Godwin explains that marketing to brides has been simple: “We created a commission-based referral system with wedding-planning, dress and catering companies. It ensures that we get a steady stream of referrals.”
He also finds that bridal expos can be an effective way to meet brides. “You really stand out in a room full of dresses and cakes!” he exclaims. “I have never seen another health and fitness booth at an expo.”
In addition, Godwin has used Facebook ads to great effect. “It is easy to set up an ad and tailor it to people showing ‘engaged’ on their profile.”
Some trainers focus much of their attention on brides, while others count bridal training as only 10%–15% of their business. However, all of them are confident that bridal fitness makes good business sense. Why?
It Provides a Receptive Market. “Bridal fitness allows me to tap into a new revenue stream,” says Keigher. “Brides will spend any amount of money to look good on their wedding day.”
It Offers Long-Term Clients. “While a woman’s motivation to get fit may initially be her wedding day, it often inspires her to take action and make a change,” says Thomas. “Brides have tied the knot and continue to stay in my groups for maintenance.”
It Offers Recession-Proof Income. “Bridal fitness is a steady market,” notes Godwin. “Even in times of economic hardship, brides seem to be a niche market that has not cut back on spending.”
It Allows for Add-On Services/Pro-ducts. While bridal fitness packages are the initial income generators for his business, Godwin says that his profits are boosted by the additional services and products that brides buy. “We provide massage and additional nutritional support and have a great referral program for beauty products and services,” he says. “We also sell a range of fitness products. The sale of add-ons and commissions from companies you refer out to can add a massive amount to your bottom line.”
While trainers enjoy the money they earn from training brides, they also find it rewarding work. “It is such a joyful time in a woman’s life,” says Thomas, “and I love being able to share in that exciting journey with her.” n
One reason that training for brides works so well is that there is a start date and an end date to the training. There’s a specific reason to want to work out, so clients are motivated. In addition to bridal fitness, what other special-occasion training can you offer (either one-on-one or group)? Here are some ideas.
- preparation for 5K, 10K, half marathons, marathons, triathlons and other races
- preparation for mountain-climbing adventures or cycling vacations
- pre- and postpartum training
- bikini boot camps (for a beach-ready body)
- prewedding training for grooms
- mother-of-the-bride and/or father-of-the-bride training (partner training?)
- preparation for high-school and/or college reunions
- teen prom training
Consider these tips when helping brides get into great shape for the big day.
Emphasize Stress Release and Balance. “If you have been a bride, you know what it is like planning the biggest party of your life,” says trainer Jessica Thomas. “If you have not planned a wedding, know that it can be stressful! It is such an exciting time, but there is so much to do, and it can be time-consuming. Many brides are working full-time and planning a wedding, which can seem like a part-time job. As a trainer, it is important to emphasize the importance of staying consistent with their workouts, because they provide a great outlet for stress, which helps keep hormones in balance.”
Promote Good Health. Explain to brides that a “quick fix” is not the answer to being fit, says Thomas. “A quick fix will not give them the shiny hair, glowing skin and high energy that they desire. Encourage brides to lose weight at a healthy rate to set them up for future success in keeping the weight off. If they need help with healthy eating or anything else you can’t provide, refer them to someone who can assist them. Be sure to include cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training, and explain the importance of all of them.” “Don’t forget to focus on arms, upper body and chest,” says trainer Amanda Ebner. “These are often neglected strength areas for women in general and are even more important for buff brides! Discuss the importance of lifelong fitness and staying with a fitness program after the wedding.”
Understand About the Dress Fitting. If you are working with brides who are trying to lose weight and build strength, know that the wedding day may not be the only deadline that counts. Find out the date of their final dress-fitting appointment. They will want to be in shape by then.
Look Past the Wedding. Brides can also be so focused on the big day that they come back after the honeymoon 5 pounds heavier and with slight postwedding blues, explains Thomas. “They have worked so hard getting in shape and planning for this one day, and then it is over. You can prepare them ahead of time for this and help them get back into their healthy routines when they return.”
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