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BOOT CAMP NO CAKEWALK FOR BRIDES-TO-BE `I'M GOING TO FIT INTO THAT DRESS'.

Byline: Candice Choi Staff Writer

CANOGA PARK - It's the fairy-tale wedding dress - a romantic satin affair with imperial sleeves and a touch of beading on the bodice and the flowing train.

The only imperfection is that it's a tight squeeze - a trap set intentionally by bride-to-be Danette Jennings.

``I'm going to fit into that dress,'' said a determined Jennings, who embarked on a five-week bridal boot camp at Topanga Fitness in Canoga Park on Tuesday morning.

Jennings was among a half-dozen future brides taking part in a maiden course professing to whip them into shape for the big day, in her case June 5.

The aim is to zero in on ``panic zones'' and blast away extra pounds in the leg and abdominal areas. Between sweaty crunches and lunges, women can bond over their pre-wedding jitters.

The course, which spans 15 sessions over five weeks, is an offshoot of the popular boot camps that gyms across the country have been offering in recent years. Topanga Fitness started with just one boot camp a little more than a year ago, but now offers four regular classes and special corporate training sessions.

In 2001, only 19 percent of gyms nationwide offered boot camps. That figure ballooned to about 50 percent in 2002, the most recent data available from the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association in Boston.

``I wouldn't be surprised if it's gone up even more since then,'' said Brooke McInnis, spokeswoman for the IHRSA.

Extreme Boot Camp in La Caada Flintridge offers bridal boot camps by special request. Fresh Fitness Boot Camp in Encino doesn't have boot camps specifically for brides, but many members are getting ready for weddings.

Group exercises in general are popular, and it's no wonder specialized boot camps are sprouting up. ``It makes sense - you're working out with a population of people who are in exactly the same boat,'' McInnis said.

What makes the concept so attractive is that someone else is policing your behavior, said Allen Saltzman, who owns Topanga Fitness with his wife, Sharona. But the term ``boot camp'' can be misleading.

``It's not a boot camp mentality with fatigues and screaming instructors,'' Allen said. ``It's much more nurturing.''

In fact, participants of the bridal boot camp are given Bobbi Brown makeovers and are rewarded with a gift basket full of spa amenities at the end of the course. The entire experience costs each participant $350 - a bargain for Jennings, who said being part of a team of like-minded women is a great motivator.

``If I decide not to go to the gym one day, who's going to care? With a boot camp, people are counting on me to show up,'' she said.

The boot camps at Topanga Fitness are so popular, members are constantly suggesting ideas for variations, such as an outdoor camp for pets and their owners.

``People come in and say, 'can you do this, can you do that.' The other day, a guy asked if we could do one for grooms,'' Sharona said.

For now, Topanga Fitness is focusing on bridal boot camps and will likely offer additional sessions to accommodate the growing interest.

Sharona discovered there was great enthusiasm for the idea when she first started talking it over with members several months ago; one woman talked about bringing her entire bridal party and the mother of another bride-to-be was eager to sign up.

The boot-camp concept works for bridal parties because women are focused on getting results within a certain time frame.

``I want to look like I did when my fiance first met me, which was 30 pounds ago,'' said Lisa Morejon, a Burbank resident who's set to get married Oct. 8. After her first session Tuesday morning, she was feeling a bit sore at work. ``I know what boot camp means, but I didn't think it would literally be like that.''

Realistically, Morejon knows she won't lose 30 pounds right away, but she's hoping the experience will set her on the right path.

``I'm going to get the best of it and just try and keep it up until Oct. 8.''

Candice Choi, (818) 713-3634

candice.choi(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Danette Jennings, 29, right, of Santa Clarita, is determined to fit into her too-tight wedding dress. She and Beth Howard, 34, of Reseda, left, work out in Topanga fitness' boot camp to get ready for their coming weddings.

(2) At brides-to-be boot camp, coach Jessica Welk watches over the women, who are working on their abs at Topanga Fitness. All say they want to look their best for their most important day.

(3) Bride-to-be Lisa Morejon, 28, of Burbank, in front, works out on the stairs with other future brides to get in shape their wedding day at a boot camp at Topanga Canyon Fitness.

Tina Burch/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Apr 27, 2005
Words:810
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