If you’ve ever prayed for a workout that is actually fun, Karina Smirnoff swears that your prayers have been answered. Besides building her brand on Dancing with the Stars and recently opening her very own studio in Woodland Hills, California, the dancing queen is now adding blockbuster babe to her resume with a new fitness DVD. SheKnows celebrity correspondent Whitney English joined Karina’s class at The Sports Club/LA and had the chance to chat with the star about how dance keeps her in tip-top shape.
How to dance like a star and eat like one, too
Outside of keeping up with her dance steps, Karina jokes, “I am trying to be conscious of my diet and what I eat as well as working out so I can have the energy to run down the aisle.” The soon-to-be newlywed advises, “Pineapple is great for women because it breaks up acid and fat.” So ladies, juice up on pineapple after chowing down on meat. Karina also comments, “I overdose on spinach and instead of drinking soda, I’ll snack on watermelon because it’s also a diuretic.”
Why is dancing such a great workout?
“It’s a well-rounded workout,” says Karina. “You don’t work one muscle group, you work the whole body. It’s great cardio.” Plus, “you have fun when you dance and you work out. You forget that you’re actually physically working and sweating. You’re enjoying the process and at the same time, toning up, losing weight and burning calories.” According to Karina, making dance your fitness choice is a great solution to turning your exercise routine into an exciting and effective workout.
Which dance styles produce which results?
“You have the high-paced routines like jive, cha cha and salsa that are obviously a little more intense,” Karina says. And these routines will give you a better cardio workout, according to the dancer.
“However, the slow dances like the waltz and the rumba are so slow that you have to have so much control and you’re using different muscle groups to make sure that you control every step.” Because of this, Karina says, the slower routines are also a very intense workout.
What it comes down to is strength training versus high-paced cardio. In Karina’s words: “Cardio, as opposed to straining and toning your muscles.” Taking a dip in a bunch of different dance styles is your best bet to getting the ultimate dancer’s body.
Are results like Kirstie Alley and Kelly Osbourne’s pretty typical?
“Dancing with the Stars is a very grueling experience; we have 8 to 10 hours a day of rehearsal.” Yes, that’s every single day. Karina points out that realistically, when you take a dance class, you won’t be doing it 10 hours a day, seven days a week. “You are going to lose weight, just not at the pace of Kelly Osbourne and Kirstie Alley.”
So we know dance is a great workout — but just like any fitness plan, it’s not a quick fix. You still have to commit to putting your best exercise foot forward, pointing those toes and cha-cha-ing your pounds away.
How often do you have to dance in order to lose weight?
Karina tells Whitney she has students who take her classes four to five times a week. In order to get the dancer’s body you dream of, Karina recommends that you make sure you participate in a dance class at least three times a week. Her No. 1 tip to chisel your bod? “Make sure you are doing it consistently.”
How do you stay motivated while getting the tricky dance moves down?
Karina says, “It’s just a matter of time. Let yourself get through that one or two hours’ worth where you are struggling.” It might even be tough for the first week, Karina adds. “Everyone is a different student. Some are more visual — and others more analytical. So you have to allow yourself to find out what type of a student and dancer you are before you give up.”
Karina’s final tip to mastering dance fitness is to make sure you’re holding your posture. “You want to protect your core, you want to protect your spine. If your dancing and you’re slouching down, you’re not going to get the same effect,” she explains. That means keeping your neck long, bellybutton in and ribcage closed. Karina says, “Engage your body before you even start working out.”
If you can’t attend Karina’s classes at her studio in Los Angeles, her dance fitness routine is available on her Shape Up with Karina DVD.
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