“Dancing with the Stars” pro Karina Smirnoff is running from a wardrobe fitting to show rehearsals when we catch up with her. It’s only a few days before tonight’s new season premieres and the professional ballroom dancer breathlessly declares her excitement: “It’s a crazy week. The new show has lots of new elements that we are all learning. It’s very exciting; it’s going to be so much fun.”
Anyone who has watched the show and seen Smirnoff in action knows that dancing can be a super-effective way to work out. Smirnoff and fellow pro Kym Johnson are behind the best-selling fitness DVD “Dancing with the Stars: Latin Cardio,” and are now back with its follow-up, “Dancing with the Stars: Sizzle & Groove Latin Dance,” which was released earlier this month.
The DVD features Smirnoff and Johnson teaching exercise routines adapted from the show for a full-body, high-cardio workout that anyone — even those with two left feet — can do at home and get results.
“Latin dancing is the most incredible workout and you don’t feel like you are exercising — it’s more fun than going to the gym,” says Smirnoff. “You’re burning more calories too. The testament is that every celebrity who comes on the show either loses weight or tones up and they always say that’s the best part of doing it.”
Unlike what you might be doing at the gym, Smirnoff says that dancing works multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
“When you go to the gym you really concentrate on single muscle groups. When you do yoga, it is repetitive poses. Dancing works every muscle, and also, you’re not exercising at the same rate continually, so your heart rate is going up and down. It’s great cardio. And you’re having fun and looking sexy. It’s the only workout where you look sexy,” Smirnoff says with a giggle.
Her diet: 'Making good choices'
The Ukrainian native’s workout routine includes yoga, which she calls “an hour and a half of pure torture!” She sticks to a mostly non-meat diet, but otherwise isn’t too rigid in what she eats. “I think that a healthy diet means making good choices. Having a piece of cake and then running it off is OK, but having a piece of cake before going to bed means it goes straight to your butt.”