Karina Smirnoff has just released her first fitness DVD, Shape Up With Karina Smirnoff, which is now available on her website, http://karinasmirnoff.com/.
We had the opportunity to interview her to talk about it, and we discussed everything from the intensity of a DWTS season, her plans for Christmas, her new DVD, and having kids to her upcoming ventures which are very exciting! It w
as a fun interview and I have to say she is super-sweet, down-to-earth and busy!!
INMF: First of all congratulations on your engagement to Brad Penny and that gorgeous ring:
KARINA: Thank you so much. Even though it’s been 3 months since being engaged it is still very exciting.
INMF: How long did the DVD take to produce?
KARINA: It's a dance-inspired fitness workout program that I have been teaching around the country for years when I was coaching and dancing as well as internationally too. A lot of studios have implemented it into their fitness classes as well, so it's always been there and was a matter of finding the right team at the right time to put it on DVD.
Once we started talking to Skechers and they were interested, it was about 3-4 months to put the whole thing together. The program was ready, all we needed to do was figure out the location, the music, the outfits and also to explain to the production company exactly what steps I'm doing and what follows and what precedes them.
So in terms of getting it ready and filmed, I think it was about 4 to 5 months with having it out as well.
INMF: There is something I`ve always wanted to know and have never found the answer to, and I hope you don`t mind my asking, but are you related to the Smirnoff Vodka empire?
KARINA: [Laughing] No, I wish I was. A lot of people ask, but I’m not. I would love to do a Smirnoff campaign, no relation, just the same last name.
INMF: I guess when you are on DWTS, there is no time, energy or a need to do a workout?
KARINA: Oh, absolutely. Sometimes we spend 10-12 hours in the studio. If we aren’t rehearsing with the celebrity, then we are probably choreographing the next dance. There is always nonstop dancing, and usually from the time you get home, even if mentally you want to go to the gym, your body is like "Absolutely not, you’re going straight to bed."
INMF: Do they also have nutritionists that help you, because you guys need to fuel up properly and get enough food, do they provide that?
KARINA: No, but that would be a fabulous idea and setup, but at the same time they know we have been dancing our whole lives, so they think we already know what we need and what is required. Sometimes the celebrities ask us "what do I eat, how do I rest, how do I get the soreness out of our muscles?" Usually that’s when people get hurt, because they don’t care for the body the way they should after putting so much pressure and physical activity on it. I think between competing and travelling and working out and trying to be in the best physical shape but being healthy because we need to have stamina.
We do competitions that are 7 or 8 rounds. Meaning you dance 5 dances nonstop 8 times! And that dance is usually not as short as DWTS’ dances, which are 3 minutes long, so if you don’t have good healthy stamina, you will feel like you are about to pass out.
Through all of this, a lot of dancers develop their own way. I think everybody is different. I have my own routine, I know what I need to eat to get the best stamina, the best results, and usually I give my little secrets to my partners, because I need them to be in the best physical condition ever.
INMF: Do you want to share those secrets with us?
KARINA: You can hear a little bit, but we are planning a lifestyle book so I don’t want to give all of it out. Doing Bikram Yoga definitely helps with the elasticity of the muscles, helps with length, keeping them long and strong. Also doing a core workout, like what I do in my fitness class is probably the most important because your center, your core, is where most of your strength will come from. If you have a strong core, you will be able to accelerate physically beyond what you are physically capable of.
INMF: Do you have plans to do more workout videos after this one?
KARINA: Yes definitely. This is the basic fundamentals. It’s not easy; it’s not one of those where you watch it once and you are able to do it. I think it’s a matter of doing it maybe 4-5 times with me slowly, and then you’ll more and more get the hang of it, and you’ll be able to follow without even listening or trying to figure out what the next step is.
It’s a full body workout. You get to work on your core, your back, your legs, your arms, everything. So the next set of DVD’s, I want to target certain body parts, you know abs, thighs and butt and arms.
At the same time, I want to eventually create and put out enough DVDs that there is a 60-day program - it’s already written out, it’s all there, it’s just a matter of filming it - but put out enough DVDs that you can put it into a 60-day program where you keep changing the body parts, the full body, the fundamentals, then the stamina workout so that within 60 days if you do 5-6 times a week, interchanging the different DVD’s you’ll get that incredible workout and the maximum benefit, weight loss and toning, so it’s almost like a 2-month program that will get you into that ideal body shape and size that you want to be at.
INMF: When you do the abs portion, will The Situation make a guest appearance?
KARINA: [laughing] You know what, it’s funny, because we were talking about it with the Situation because he has his workout DVD and we were standing around one day and I was wearing a top that revealed my abs; he said "We should do one together," and I was like, absolutely! You show me your steps and I will show you my steps, and we will do something in the middle. So, yes, I think that is definitely a possibility. I would love to have him in the DVD. He’s so much fun and such a cool guy. He’s a sweetheart, funny and super respectful! He came in and wanted to take it very seriously.
INMF: In addition to the workout DVDs, do you plan on having a workout clothing line to add to it?
KARINA: It’s actually a great question because it’s something that’s already in the works. I’ve been designing my own costumes on the show and professionally and for years. I love the fact that they are still very sexy, but they are very secure and you still find a fuse between sexiness and fitness. And I think right now we have a lot of great workout fitness clothing, but not really something that grasps the sexy aspect of it as well.
So we’ve been developing a line and I’m super excited about it. It’s going to be a little while before it’s out, but I am excited because I have a line of shoes coming out right before Christmas. Do you know Bear Paws? [HELL YES!!!!]
It was the most amazing way how we met! I have worn Bear Paws for years and I guess on one of the rehearsals on the show I didn’t want to change shoes and just wore them, and I guess the Bear Paw Company watched the episode, saw me wearing the shoes and contacted me and thanked me for wearing the shoes! I told them how comfortable they are.
So we started talking and that led to me having my own line with Bear Paws! And I’ve designed one of them that are higher than the knee that has a certain device where you can scrunch it down and make it shorter. They are super sexy, every time I wear them I get people asking me where they can get them and I tell them ‘soon, they are almost here’.
They are going to be here right before Christmas and then afterwards at Bear Paws and other stores.
INMF: How exciting to have your DVD out, working on a lifestyle book, a clothing line, and this shoe line. Will you ever do a fragrance?
KARINA: I’m never going to say no. Especially in this industry you work so hard, so if ever you get the opportunity to have your dream or fantasy come true, so if you have that opportunity, you take it because you never know if you are going to have it again.
I’ve been working my butt off, and I feel extremely blessed that things are happening right now that I’ve been dreaming about for years. I couldn’t be more excited.
My mom always said, work comes to those that love to work. I take it to a whole new level because every time I have a day off I sit down and I’m like "What do I do?" I would rather be busy than not.
INMF: You’re going to take Christmas off right?
KARINA: Yes. For Christmas we have our families coming to L.A. so Brad and I are actually hosting Christmas, so we’ve been trying to create the North Pole out of the house. There Christmas trees and lights and reindeer and it’s all so exciting, but then now I realize that everything we put up we have to take down! [laughing]. I’m getting concerned. This will take me till next Christmas to take down! Some of it is on the roof; I have two huge real Christmas trees in my house that took me two days to decorate each, so I’m slightly concerned!
I’m thinking if we have a lot of Brad’s buddies over on the holidays I’ll designate jobs to them to help. They’re all like 6’5”, so I’ll cook an amazing dinner for them, and they can take it all down.
INMF: You sound SO happy.
KARINA: You know I am! It’s been a long time in the coming, but I think everything we go through in life makes us better, stronger and hopefully smarter. [laughing]
INMF: Back to the workout video, what fitness level does someone have to have or can anyone do it?
KARINA: It’s literally for everybody. Even those in the best shape can benefit from it greatly because the more effort you give yourself the more results you’ll get. I’ve tried it on many. My mom was the first I tried it on, and she was sore. It took her maybe 2-3 times for her to be able to follow from the beginning to the end. Some of the moves are easy, but it’s just a matter of coordinating it, but knowing what pressure to hold to get the best results.
My manager did it and she’s in great shape. She’s super fit, she’s a mom, and when she did it she said her back, side and abs were killing her! It’s not so bad that you can’t walk the next day, but it’s enough to challenge your body.
INMF: How long is the workout?
KARINA: The workout itself is about 33 minutes total if you just look at the workout. But there is a warm-up, a bonus abs feature that you can do in 8 minutes, that if you just do that in the morning and don’t have time it’s great because even though it’s mostly abs, I use a lot of balance stuff, so even if you are working your abs more than any other body part you are still getting a whole-body quick exercise.
So we have that at the end and behind-the-scenes, so the whole DVD is 50 minutes, but you’re not going to be watching the DVD every single time. So if you have half an hour in the day, that’s all you need to get it done.
INMF: You have exercises that target specifically love handles.
KARINA: Yes, I feel like a lot of people can get into great shape with cardio and lose weight, but it’s those certain areas, right beneath your belly button, that is the hardest to lose, and the sides. You can be in amazing shape but you can still have something there, so I wanted to create a workout that targets those really hard-to-get-to body parts.
After that workout, your love handles will be sore but in a good way. Every time I teach a class the love handles and the arms are the ones that hurt the most. Especially the Frog, that really targets the love handles directly.
INMF: Where do you see yourself in five years?
KARINA: With a couple of kids, a boy and a girl. Dancing With The Stars, if it’s still around, something in this industry. I’m probably one of the biggest fans of Jennifer Lopez. I think she’s had an amazing career from dancer to singer to actress to businesswoman. I think she’s an inspiration, and it’s not like she came from a family where her dad was a producer and her mom was a studio executive. She came from the Bronx.
She came from a normal neighbourhood and she worked her butt off and she got to the very top and she’s gorgeous. I’m kind of hoping to follow her steps any way possible, even if they are just tiny little footsteps.
I actually got to meet her because I did "Shall We Dance," the movie that she did with Richard Gere. I actually choreographed and I taught Jennifer and Richard Gere and I had a small part in it. I got to meet her and interact with her, and even though it’s been so many years, I think the movie was out in 2001, and up until now, every time she sees me on the carpet or at the events she will come up and say hi. She is so down-to-earth.
I don’t want to come up to her and say ‘hey, do you remember me’ because I don’t know if she is busy or what. But she always waves or says hi or lets me know that she knows I’m there and says hi to me. I think it’s so admirable at the stature that she’s at, she’s SO down-to-earth.
INMF: Karina thank you so much for your time for this interview, it’s just been great.
KARINA: Thank you.
If you want to have a figure like her (and who the hell doesn’t), her video is available on her site at www.karinasmirnoff.com, and it’s very reasonably priced at $17.99, and you can purchase via PayPal! You can follow her on Twitter at @Karina_Smirnoff.