After nearly a year of preparing for my wedding, it hit me: The one thing I hadn't checked off my to-do list was getting toned for the big day. Enter Terri Walsh. The veteran trainer -- she was the first creative director of programming at Crunch Fitness -- developed her own workout routine, A.R.T Method (Active Resistance Training), during her two decades of fitness experience. For the past three years, she has helped people get in shape for important events -- be it a wedding, college reunion or photo shoot.
Getting to Walsh's sixth-floor, walk-up studio is an exercise in dedication alone. Once my panting subsides, Walsh gives me a fitness assessment. She takes my measurements, evaluates my body fat, discusses my goals (flat stomach like Gisele -- duh), hands me her DVD to practice techniques at home and introduces me to the six women working out today.
The intimate class size instantly relieves some of my gym anxieties -- and is part of the A.R.T. appeal. Among weights, blocks and exercise mats, you'll find basil plants growing on window ledges. Phoenix, Walsh's adorably happy pitbull rescue, often makes visits. And class chatter includes where a gal can find the best blowout in town -- my kind of place. A self-professed "house head," Walsh curates a playlist before each grueling workout, which consists of sequences involving weights, planks, lunges, push-ups, crunches and squats.
"She's got a great sense of humor and such good energy," says Kelly Rosen, 29, who first signed up for boot camp before her wedding in 2010. "No matter how exhausted you are, she'll get you to kick it into high gear."
Marisa Sannicandro joined A.R.T in 2012 to "look as good as I could in my wedding dress." She admits that she "hated going to the gym and never did," but says, "this class is so fun." After seeing her waistline shrink from 28 inches to 23 in eight weeks, the 32-year-old is a convert. "It's only an hour, and you feel so much better after," she says.
And those aren't the only perks. "What I love about Terri is when she's teaching, she makes you understand what you're doing," says Rosen, who lost 11.5 inches during her boot camp. "It was like my body transformed. You feel strong. She's very empowering."
"My favorite part is watching someone go from uncoordinated to coordinated," she says. "I like the person in the back row. I like the person that's trying to hide from me. Everyone thinks you have to come out of the box understanding what to do, and that's not the case at all."
Teaching people how to be physically capable may be even more important than results. "Of course I'm going to make your butt tighter, of course I'm going to give you the abs you want, of course your arms are going to look good," Walsh says. "But what keeps people showing up is that there's never-ending learning and discovery when you actually practice what I teach you to do."
The favorite part for us students? Even better than how great our jeans look now is the walk down those stairs after each class. You'll feel so badass -- bring on the final dress fitting!
1: ART Bi-Level Batwing/Saddlebag Blaster
1a. Hold a dumbell with the free hand & place one shin & one hand on yoga blocks
1b. Press shi & hand down, pull navel up while lifting the arm and opposite leg
2 sets 25 reps
2: ART Butt-Lifter Lunge
Place a chair on a yoga mat.
2a. Stand behind a sturdy chair using the chair legs to set up your alignment
2b. Step left foot back outside the RIGHT side of mat. Push the floor down and pull navel back to replace foot, repeat.
2 sets 25 reps
3: ART Thigh-Tightening Toner
3a. Stand with leg over a high chair back
3b. Press bottom leg backwards & down while straitening top leg to a full extension
2 sets 25 reps
4: ART Tricep Ab Core Toner
4a. Place hand on chair seat. Elbows face backwards. Keep ribs closed. Place block between knees.
4b. Pressing feet down & squeezing block, Lower body until arms are parallel to the floor
4c. Immediately press body to chair, while pulling feet off floor and block towards chest.
2 sets 25 reps.
5: ART Saddlebag Sculptor
5a. Stand with your hands on a sturdy chair seat, leg extended behind.
5b. Push standing leg down, lift upper body, pull navel back, and rotate extended leg forward until toe touches the chair back