A punch-up isn't the best way to start a marriage but several brides in Hong Kong are strapping on boxing gloves, stepping into the ring and sweating it out to become fabulously fit for their big wedding day.
Crunches, push-ups, swiping at punching bags and sparring are all part of the tough, pre-nuptial regimen designed by boxing coach and Hong Kong rugby player Andrew Wong Kee who spends most of his time training stressed-out executives.
Wong Kee's JAB gym also tailor-makes diets to ensure brides look their best for the big day.
“I'm trying to get fit. Trying to lose weight and tone up at the same time,” said Fiona Campbell, an accountant who comes to the boxing classes with her Hong Kong fiancé.
“I got really fed up with cardio at the gym, so I thought this was a really good alternative,” she said.
Marriage is big business in Hong Kong, a city steeped in both Chinese and Western traditions and where many brides prepare for lavish weddings with the help of planners and even fortune-tellers to select an auspicious date.
Bridal shops, stocked with both white gowns and traditional Chinese red silk outfits, line the streets of posh neighborhoods and elaborate wedding banquets are common in Chinese restaurants and hotels across the densely populated city.
Photographs are a big part of the wedding, especially for Chinese couples who have no qualms about spending thousands of dollars to get the perfect shot. So looking good ahead of the big day a big priority for most brides.
At JAB gym, brides-to-be can opt for one-on-one training sessions or group classes that range from HK$750 to HK$1,560 ($96-$200). Most train for up to a year before their nuptials and Wong Kee ensures there are no slackers in his class.
“What I do is I get them training together and then I get them training individually,” he said. “Obviously in a group environment they can kind of relax a bit but when it comes to one-on-one training, they cannot hide.”
Boxing bride Jules Peedom, a recruitment specialist who is getting married in England next spring, said the training left her drained, but exhilarated.
“I am just exhausted. I feel good, but my whole body is shaking,” Peedom said.
The brides hope the aches and pains from their untraditional, and quite unlady-like, wedding preparations will yield a very feminine result — fitting into a wedding dress that is a few sizes smaller.