Ashley: Getting Fit For the Dress!

Ashley: Getting Fit For the Dress!

By Ashley Arnold

It’s unfortunate, but I am generally a self-conscious person. I just knew that this would translate into being a self-conscious bride. Lucky for me, certain dark-haired “celebutantes” have made big butts fashionable in recent years, so I’m feeling a little better about myself than I did in middle school.

Wedding dress shopping wasn’t something I was dreading, but I knew I wanted something on the softer, romantic side. I wasn’t interested in strapless, shiny gowns or big skirts, and the idea of going to a David’s Bridal seemed overwhelming. Imagine my delight when I found that BHLDN (pronounced “beholden” for those of us without the ability to read sans vowels) has a boutique location in Chestnut Hill, outside of Boston.

BHLDN is the bridal division of Anthropologie. Don’t get scared. Their dress prices are surprisingly reasonable, considering what Anthropologie typically charges for, say, an “artisan” teacup or kaftan. I visited the store three times, each time having a dedicated consultant assigned to me.

I also made a point to visit my friend Sarah, owner of Velvet Revolution in Wakefield. She had a rare find: an unused wedding dress from Kleinfeld’s in New York City. Unfortunately, the general consensus from my assembled Facebook Messenger peanut gallery was that the gorgeous dress just wasn’t fit for a winter wedding. If only I was getting married in a springtime English garden…

ashley-dressVelvet Revolution dress in upper left, all others BHLDN

My first consultant at BHLDN pulled a dress for me that I had not listed on my web form, and one that they weren’t even meant to have (a bride had returned it from a web order). It was the only dress I tried on at all three appointments. When I found myself planning the wedding imagining myself wearing that dress, I realized it was the one.

Due to my long timeline, I was able to wait for the dress to go on sale (pro-tip: BHLDN dresses all go through the sale section eventually, no matter the dress or price). Keep a close eye on the website so you don’t miss out on your size!

Now that I had the dress, I needed to look nice in it. My very fancy and expensive gym in downtown Providence was inconvenient to go to, known to make billing errors, had lackluster classes, and only offered personal training for insanely expensive rates beyond the monthly fee.

Enter: Rondeau’s Kickboxing in Johnston.

ashley-kickboxingThe no-frills gym offers lots of open space, punching bags, weights and a secondary room with machines

At the time I signed up, Christina Rondeau’s gym was running a six week special where I could attend unlimited classes, be given a meal plan, get measured and weighed and (basically) get harassed if I didn’t show up.

Literally, sign me up.

Taking three classes per week has noticeably changed my tone and definition. I need to keep up on my end of the bargain (as far as my diet goes) if I want to see a major weight shift. But Christina’s classes are no joke, and I’m sure my muscle gain is contributing to some of the plateau that I’m seeing on the scale. Even at week eight, I still feel worked after Becky’s Tuesday cross-training free weights class and Nick’s Thursday fitness kickboxing class. They keep things interesting and new on a week-to-week basis, always working different muscle groups and keeping my form and technique tight.

ashley-kickboxing-2Christina kicking my non-Kardashian butt 1-on-1

Not long after starting classes, I started to notice the shirts she offered in her front entryway (and I had to pick one up if I didn’t want to get targeted for extra pushups in the Tuesday kickboxing class). A few of them boasted a large graphic with big lettering that said FIGHT LIKE A DAD. The gym has large pictures everywhere, showing various milestones in Christina’s career and groups she’s been part of. But there are also some pictures with her father, and more iterations of FIGHT LIKE A DAD.

Here’s what Christina’s website says: “Fight Like A Dad & Dad Strong was created by Christina Rondeau for her father Leo Rondeau. Leo was diagnosed with throat and tongue cancer and was put through a whirlwind of medical treatments and hit with many unexpected medical expenses. Leo was always a hard worker, a retired policeman who also worked other jobs to give his family a nice life. Many people refer to Leo as a man of integrity and respect. This cause was created to help Leo and others defray some of their costs from unexpected medical expenses. Every little bit helps and all we aim to do is make a little difference in someone’s life during a tough time.”



My father received a lymphoma diagnosis in September, which makes Christina’s cause particularly important to me. Om Saturday, October 15th, I dragged my wonderful fiancé to Christina’s Fight Like A Dad 5k in Johnston Memorial Park at 9am. Don’t worry, Patrick runs 3.1 miles every day all on his own.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the event, or if you just hate running (are you me?), Christina will always welcome your support or donations at any time. Just swing by at any time to learn more.

Fight like a dad. Fight like MY dad.

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