Get ready to sass up your dance and fitness steps with one of the sexiest professionals on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” Karina Smirnoff.
Smirnoff produces her up-close and personal DanceFIT-KS program at Beaver Creek June 13-15, and she’s welcoming all ages, genders and levels of fitness.
Smirnoff’s big splash
Smirnoff’s a naturally high-energy go-getter. The Ukrainian bombshell captivated the world of competitive ballroom dancing by winning five U.S. national championships, as well as winning several titles throughout the world, becoming a World Trophy Champion and ranking No. 2 internationally for Latin dance.
But she’s best known for her 15 seasons on “Dancing with the Stars,” in which she won the mirror ball on season 13. From the beginning, she has choreographed every routine and designed all of the costumes for both herself and her partners.
“When I first said ‘yes’ (to ‘Dancing with the Stars’), I’ll be honest, I was so scared,” Smirnoff said. “I’ve never taken on someone who has never danced in their life ... and there are days when I (think), ‘How do I get up? My body is exhausted; my mind is completely blank.’ ... But the mind is so strong because you get excited to see your partner and (how) much progress he’s making.”
No matter how tired dancers become throughout the season, the inspiration of meeting various entertainment professionals and becoming stars themselves through the audiences’ love of dance — not to mention the fact that “Dancing with the Stars” allows dancers to do what they love the most — keep them coming back for more. In fact, Smirnoff is so dedicated, she plans to apply for Len Goodman’s position if he leaves.
“I hope he doesn’t leave because he’s the father of the ballroom, and our dad cannot leave,” she said. “But if he wants to retire, I would love to have the opportunity to judge.”
When Smirnoff steps off the dance floor, her life doesn’t stop spinning. She has earned bachelor degrees in economics and information systems programming, starred in Broadway shows and such films as “Shall We Dance,” released her own line of Bearpaw Boots, helped launch a cosmetics company and is working on her own line of beauty and health products, and she also opened a dance studio in Woodland Hills, California — which is not only LEED-certified, but also raises money for at-risk youth through its social dance and fitness classes. Not surprisingly, she has created a line of foot inserts for “every kind of problem because my feet are killing me, always,” she said.
How does she find the time and energy to do it all?
“If I’m not doing anything, I get restless. I love being busy; I love working,” she said. “The ADHD plays a part for sure because I do have that. If I don’t work out, I get this crazy energy like I need to do something ... moving around, rearranging furniture ...”
The Smirnoff experience
Smirnoff travels around the world, leading and customizing her DanceFIT-KS program for guests of hotels, resorts, cruise ships and corporations, but jet lag never factors into her energy output. She gives it her all, and she tells participants: “If you give 100 percent, if you go for it, it’s gonna hurt, but you’re gonna like it,” she said.
Fortunately, she begins Beaver Creek’s weekend with a mellow cocktail reception, but come Saturday morning, it’s time for hip-swaying salsa steps followed by a fitness class that people can do at their own speed, but she reminds everyone: “As much as you put in, that’s how much you’re going to get out.”
Nevertheless, it’s all about having fun.
“You get to dance. You get to work out but not realize you’re working out at the intensity you are ... I want everyone to have fun and benefit as much as they can.”
She believes dance is the best fitness regimen, saying it allows the body to burn calories during, and even hours after, dancing. She says dance works every single muscle group in the body, including the brain, and the heart rate variations that occur cause the body to burn the maximum amount of calories.
Though she incorporates Latin dance throughout the weekend, her classes differ from Zumba fitness, with which many people may be familiar. She views Zumba as “kind of like walk-dancing,” and says her workouts are not as easy and target more muscle groups, such as those hard-to-reach back and side areas.
She builds confidence in participants by beginning with easier moves, and then she turns up the heat.
By the time it’s over, people are red, flushed and sweating, she said, “but they love it.”