Fitness Expert: Karen Voight

Karen Voight was trained as a professional ballet dancer. When she was 20 years old, she figured if she was going to stay in Los Angeles, she needed to change fitness tracks because to remain a dancer, she would have to move to New York or Europe. She didn’t want to do that, so she started teaching dance lessons in various dance studios in LA. She incorporated aerobics classes at the dance academy, but when that started conflicting with the management, she decided to branch out on her own.
Karen opened a gym, Voight Fitness and Dance Center, in order to provide continuity for the clients she had attracted with the dance studio. She operated her center for 18 years then she started making instructional fitness tapes and writing for the LA Times and doing fitness consulting. Being in the heart of Tinseltown, Voight at one time trained Tina Turner, Bette Midler, Diane Carroll and had made fitness videos with Elle McPherson and Paula Abdul.
What makes Voight’s fitness videos different she says is “I advocate that people should do all the components of fitness as a package, not break it down into individual components. Instead of doing just Tae Bo or Yoga or Pilates, I try to get people to understand there are benefits of doing all of these in a workout.” From yoga’s flexibility aspect to aerobics and its bone strengthening and cardiovascular effects, to weight training for muscle-building to Pilates for its core strengthening benefits, all these forms of fitness are beneficial.
While she doesn’t meld all these aspects into one single video, she does offer these fitness programs in their pure form on video; consumers have a bunch of different kinds of videos to chose from.
Her video, “Sleek Physique” is a 7-day-a-week program on DVD that incorporates all three aspects of fitness (cardio, strength, flexibility), so you never work the same muscles two days in a row. It’s a 30 minute program for each day, 7 videos for each day of the week. You get aerobics three days a week, strength training four days a week and yoga a few times a week. The great thing about the program is that it’s outlined and spread out so you never get bored doing the same thing.
Karen’s personal fitness regime includes weight training three times a week and aerobics five times a week which includes a mixture of walking up hills, cycling or teaching classes. She also does yoga three times a week and Pilates. She works out for a hour; her yoga and Pilates classes are normally 1 1/2 hours.
Nutritionally speaking, Karen takes a daily multi-vitamin, eats lots of leafy green veggies, lean protein and whole grains (like barley and brown rice). She stays away from starchy refined foods like pasta and bread.
Her words of inspiration: “Know that your body likes to exercise, the more you do, the more it can do. When you wake up in the morning and feel energized and enthusiastic about life, that is the most immediate effect of starting to exercise and it carries through at any age you are.”
“Also remember, nobody has the luxury being fit if they don’t work out. People might look like they are shape, and if they don’t work out, they are not as healthy as they could be. It’s more about how you feel when you wake up each morning. Thinness is not fitness.” A thin person could smoke, eat all the wrong foods and be very unhealthy.
Karen’s own source of motivation for staying healthy & fit she says is her own clients. “When I see how committed and focused they are, that reminds me to stay on my path. They’ve got a busy life and all sorts of things going on between work and family, or not having the luxury of high income, they still find time to workout and be focused. When I see their dedication, that motivates me, even as a leader in the industry.”
For more info on Karen or to sample some of her fitness videos and DVDs, please visit
Front & inside photos courtesy of Entertaining Fitness