Thigh Master: Meet Hoosier Karena Dawn

A daughter of Indianapolis bulks up her reality-TV resume.

Editor’s Note: Jump, flip, and paddle for joy–we’ve found nine calorie-burns fit for fun summer living, plus tips on motivation from the Hoosier star of Bravo’s Toned Up. Ready for Zumba in the pool and spinning to Poison? Shake it to the right. (To see all Health & Fitness articles, click here).

She might have answered
the call of nature in the sand on her Bravo series, Toned Up, but Karena Dawn has the whole brains-beauty-brawn package. The kooky Hoosier and her bestie, Katrina Hodgson, started a company in California by posting YouTube videos of themselves working out by the ocean, making smoothies in their tropical beach apartment, and generally loving life in the sun. Sounds breezy, but now they’re crunching some serious numbers: a million-dollar brand called Tone It Up with 580,000 newsletter followers, a content-rich website, fitness DVDs, nutrition products, clothing endorsements, and last winter’s reality show. Dawn took a breather to tell us about herself.

Did you have an active lifestyle while growing up in Indy?

Yeah. My dad is a runner, and in sixth grade (at Meridian-Kessler’s School 70), there was a program to train for the Mini. So I ran the race for a few years. I was on the soccer team, too, and my first job was at a vegan restaurant in Broad Ripple. It was in a house by the Kroger. But it went out of business.

Do you just work out all day?

Running Tone It Up [with Hodgson] is a full-time job, so just like anyone else, my alarm goes off at 5 a.m. I have to get my workout done in the morning.

How many bikinis do you own?

We do so many photo shoots and workouts, I get lots of bikinis. My friends love it. I have at least 50. There’s definitely a bikini drawer. We just designed four styles for Maaji.

What are some great workouts for swimsuit season?

You want to combine cardio and strength. I love HIITs—high-intensity interval training routines. It’s where you alternate getting your heart rate up and settling down. This is an ideal workout if you’re short on time and want to burn the most calories and fat—you can get in a great workout in 25 or 30 minutes. We have some on and on our Beach Babe DVD.

How can people make workouts fun?

Sticking with it is the challenge for everyone. Even Kat and I get in a rut. Find something you love, and find a workout buddy. That’s where our online community comes in. I’ll be lying in bed in the morning, not wanting to get up, and I’ll see on Instagram people posting that they’re working out (with the hashtag #TIUteam) and think, I have to do this.

When you peed in a hole on the beach, was it for the cameras?

No! I peed in the sand again just last weekend. I had to call my dad and say, “I’m sorry, I peed on national TV!”


This article appeared in the June 2014 issue.