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Expert Advice from a Personal Trainer

Martha Stewart Weddings, Special Issue 2010

Brett Hoebel, Personal Trainer
New York City

Known For: Creating custom workouts that blend yoga and weight training with kick-boxing, body sculpting, and martial arts.

Where to Find Him: Hoebel Fitness; hoebel.com

What should a bride look for in a trainer?
Certification is the most important thing. The National Academy of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association are two of the best programs. Good chemistry is also crucial: Interview a trainer before committing to sessions, or ask the gym manager to set you up with someone who suits your needs.

Are there mistakes brides often make while trying to get in shape?
The biggest pitfalls are starting too late, working out alone, and doing too much too soon. Begin at least three months ahead of your wedding, hit the gym with a friend, and take it slow in the beginning. Otherwise, you'll burn out.

How can you pace yourself?
Use a heart-rate monitor to ensure that you're training at the right intensity. And take a day off in between workouts. Pushing yourself too hard can stress your body, which can cause injuries and even weight gain.

Any advice for the bride who just wants to get toned or lose a few pounds?
Cut down on alcohol and sugar, which pack on calories and make your body retain water. And eat a snack with at least 20 grams of protein within 45 minutes after working out, when your body is in recovery mode. ThinkThin bars are packed with it and don't taste like cardboard.

If you're not exactly a gym rat, how can you ease into a routine at home?
Set goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. And begin with exercises that use your body weight. To tone your arms and abs, elevate your upper body on a step while you do push-ups. Start with three sets of 12, four days a week. Also do 12 intervals of running for 30 seconds, then walking for 60 seconds. When you're not working out, wear rocker-bottom sneakers to keep your muscles engaged. 

What's the best way to track your progress?
Don't weigh yourself more than once a week, otherwise you'll drive yourself crazy. And remember that muscle weighs more than fat. If the scale stops moving, that doesn't mean you've hit a plateau. Just use a measuring tape instead.

Will you get results from yoga and Pilates?
If toning up is your main goal, then yes. And yoga especially is a great way to de-stress. But if you want to lose weight, it's important to mix in some cardio and weight training.

Any tips for a bride who's beach bound?
I can't tell you how many brides focus on the dress and forget about looking good in the bikini! I recommend forward and reverse lunges to firm up the back of the thighs and the booty, side lunges to tighten the hips and inner thighs, and jackknife sit-ups for the abs.

What would you say to couples who are planning action-packed honeymoons?
Make sure you have a base fitness level before you do any strenuous activity -- getting injured on vacation is the last thing you want to happen.