Featured Instructor: Karen Kina
If you’re an avid Zumba goer, you’ll most likely recognize Karen Kina as the spunky, high-energy instructor from City Vista whose classes include hip-hop themed tracks and tons of hair flipping. Karen’s been teaching Zumba at VIDA since 2012, and it’s easy to see her passion for it within seconds of chatting with her or stepping into her class.
Karen has danced most of her life, so Zumba comes pretty naturally. She’s been doing jazz since she was two, and competed on both her high school dance team and the University of Illinois dance team in college. She explains that while she’s always trying new styles of dance – hip-hop is definitely her thing.
“My style is mostly hip-hop but I also stick to the standard Zumba format too. People have been requesting more and more hip-hop though so I’ve been doing a lot of that lately,” she says.
Karen is an IT consultant for Blue Cross/Blue Shield during the day, so Zumba is the perfect outlet for her to relieve stress at the end of a long workday. She adds that she listens to Zumba music all day in her headphones, so by the time class starts she’s pumped and ready to go!
“I’m basically an extrovert trapped in an introvert’s job environment – I stare at a computer screen all day. By the time the day is over I have a ton of energy built up and I need that outlet and interaction with people. It’s really therapeutic for me!” she says.
Karen also looks forward to adding VIDA Barre to her schedule over the summer and says she’d love to teach VIDA RX and VIDA Body in the future. She loves trying new group fitness styles and stresses the importance of trying new things to keep your body challenged.
“I’m all about switching it up. I love the atmosphere of group fitness in general and trying new formats. I always encourage my students to try all types of classes to avoid plateau-ing, which is what I try to do too!” she says.
In addition to teaching Zumba twice a week, Karen keeps up a regular strength training and cardio regimen on her own. She’s big on interval training on the treadmill, even after experiencing a pretty traumatizing treadmill accident a few years ago.
“It was basically my worst fear. I was going really fast and fell off the treadmill and got de-pantsed in the process. It was super embarrassing but I joke about it now,” she says with a laugh.
Not taking yourself too seriously is key for both treadmill accidents and group fitness beginners who may be apprehensive about trying a new class. For instance, Karen encourages people of all coordination-levels to try Zumba and just have fun with it, rather than worrying about getting all the moves right on the first try.
“Trust me, no one is going to be looking at you. Everyone is focusing on himself or herself in the mirror. There’s always a learning curve but once you get it you can really get into the moves and that’s when it becomes most effective,” says Karen.
When Karen isn’t teaching Zumba, she loves watching sports with her boyfriend (she’s a big Chicago fan!) and enjoying the summer weather at Nationals games. She hopes to make the transition into personal training eventually, and says she’s grateful for the opportunities VIDA has provided for her so far.
“I love the fact that we’re not a huge chain. We actually really care about our members, not just their money. As an instructor here we’re given so many opportunities to grow and expand our skillsets that other gyms definitely don’t give you. I used to sub at other gyms here and there but I don’t even do that anymore!” she says.
Karen stresses that she LOVES seeing new people in her classes, and says that the energy she receives from her students in class is what makes teaching so rewarding for her.
“My classes totally make or break my day. The rush of endorphins I get from sharing that energy with my students is amazing. I do it all for them, and I love taking requests so don’t be shy!” she adds.
Next time you’re at City Vista and feel like breaking a sweat to some high-energy tunes, pay Karen’s Zumba class a visit – you’ll be glad you did!