Get Toned in Time for the Wedding

Katrina Hodgson and Karena Dawn, the fit and fearless duo behind Bravo’s new series Toned Up, share their top bridal shape-up tips.

Talk about a following! With over 300,000 members on their website,, 19 million YouTube views and over 600 Twitter mentions per hour — along with their new reality series on Bravo — fitness and nutrition gurus Karena and Katrina speak to a huge community of women, many of them (drumroll, please) brides-to-be. Here, highlights from a recent conversation.

katrina hodgson and karena dawn
Photo Credit: Nicole Hill

BG: So many brides ask: What is a realistic timeline for dropping 10 pounds before the wedding?
Karena: It’s healthiest to aim to lose one to two pounds per week, tops. So give yourself a minimum of one-and-a-half to three months.

BG: Getting (and staying motivated) is tough. Katrina, as a recent bride, can you share any secrets?
Katrina: I'd remind myself what working out does for me physically and mentally. It helps me de-stress, boosts my energy, gives me confidence and makes me happy. Knowing how I wanted to feel on my wedding day was a huge inspiration in itself. And of course, I kept thinking about my dress and my honeymoon bikini. I wanted to look and feel beautiful.

lifting weights
Photo Credit: John Segesta

BG: Karena, as maid of honor, how did you pitch in?
Karena: I would always check in with Kat to make sure she was getting her workout in or ask her to join me for a beach run and yoga. We’re longtime BFFs and workout buddies but I still made sure to put in the extra effort.

BG: Katrina, did your gown determine how you worked out?
Katrina: Since I wore a fitted gown I focused on a balanced workout. I added more yoga into my routine for relaxation, upperbody strength — and shapely arms and shoulders. At the gym, I hit the stairmill for blasting calories and sculpting the booty.

beach wedding
Photo Credit: Jana Williams

Karena: You may want to spot-sculpt certain areas: waist and shoulders for a ballgown; booty, back and triceps for a fit-and-flare dress; hips and abs for a close-fitting column shape. Find the best workout for your wedding gown here ►

BG: What are some of the specific fitness regimes you recommend to your brides in training?
Katrina: We have so many brides in our community that we created a wedding-specific bridal program focusing on fitness and nutrition. A signature component of the Tone It Up regime is that we challenge our TIU brides to complete 200 miles by their wedding, starting 14 weeks before the big day. This means an average of 2.2 miles per day. You can walk, jog, run, use the stairmill, elliptical or even swim. If you cycle or take a spinning class, divide your total miles by three — meaning if you cycled 12 miles, you should log 4 miles toward your 200-mile goal. Having a program already clearly laid out really helped me stay focused for my own wedding.

BG: What’s the best approach — to try something new or stick with the tried and true?
Karena: We’ve always been big believers in trying something new to keep your workouts fun and exciting. Find something you love and look forward to. Changing it up helps keep you stoked. There are so many ways to mix it up these days: consider HIIT (high-intensity interval training), kettlebell, barre or bootcamp classes, hip-hop or Zumba — along with classic standbys like running, Pilates, swimming and weight training.

Photo Credit: John Segesta

BG: What are some good ways to stay on track, food and snack-wise, while dress-shopping, cake-tasting, etc.?
Karena: When we were running around on errands like dress shopping or checking out venues I always made sure to have my bag stocked with healthy snacks like almonds and fresh juice. Sometimes the bride can be so focused on the mission at hand she ends up running on pure excitement. If I saw that Kat’s energy seemed to be flagging, I just dug into my purse!

BG: What are advantages to working out alone vs. in a group situation like a class?
Katrina: We’re big on the buddy system. It can be the extra motivation you need to try a new class. Plus, when you don’t feel like getting that solo workout in, your partner is there to motivate you. Asking a bridesmaid, friend or even your husband-to-be to join you for workouts will help you stay accountable. And anyone who has caught some of our goofball antics on TV can see that having a workout buddy is fun!