Longtime exercise gurus Karena Dawn and Katrina Hodgson—a.k.a. the Tone It Up girls—are Bravo’s latest bikini-clad, fit-bodied reality stars who turned their active lifestyle of makeshift beach workout videos into a million-dollar business.
Proof: Their website, where they offer subscribers nutrition programs and a vast array of workout products, boosts a whooping 1.8 million visitors a month, they average 600 mentions per hour on Twitter, and their videos rack up more than 30 million views. And when Tone It Up members subscribe or sign up for their free newsletters, they join a community of women to have as a fitness support group. “Women can be really critical not only of other women but also of themselves,” Dawn says. “We want to change that.”
And now they're expanding their impact even further with their upcoming series, Toned Up, which debuts January 2 on Bravo. Read on for more about what you can expect to see as they venture into reality TV.
SHAPE: What is the new show be about?
Karena Dawn (KD): From producing our workout DVDs to creating recipes for our nutrition program, you’ll see how Tone It Up comes together from our office to our home life together. We’re just two best friends, business partners, and roommates in Manhattan Beach, CA.
Katrina Hodgson (KH): It means our community will get to know us better as their trainers, and more Tone It Up women will be in every city and town. We're really excited to help more women embrace the Tone It Up lifestyle.
SHAPE: And what is that lifestyle?
KH: Our members get together every week in major cities to work out, take new classes, or have lunch or even a girls' night out.
SHAPE: How will the show be different from your online videos?
KH: You'll really get an inside look on how we run our company: how we put our minds together, the challenges we face, and how we make our dreams come true. We've realized that life isn't about finding yourself—it's about creating yourself. That's what we set out to do every day.
SHAPE: Your show starts right after the New Year. Since staying fit comes second nature to you two, what are your New Year’s resolutions?
KH: My personal goals are to sign up for more local races, commit to completing 100 miles by Valentine's Day in either running or biking, paint more, and journal every day.
KD: 2014 is a good year for all of us—I feel it. I want to sign up for a triathlon, commit to completing 100 miles by Valentine’s Day with Katrina, take a new workout class at least once a week, make time for a family vacation, and surf more.
SHAPE: It seems like there’s always so much diet and workout advice we should be adhering to. Which piece of advice do you think women can realistically stick to forever?
KH: Our number-one rule is to take care of you first. [Tweet this tip!] As women, we're naturally nurturing and catering to others, but if you can work out in the morning and become a morning person, it really does kick off your day on the right foot. You'll be more consistent and happy.
SHAPE: Are there any diet trends or fads you wish would go away?
KH: We definitely don't agree with the fake sugar trend. Even some protein powders are loaded with chemical-filled sweeteners. You assume grabbing a protein smoothie on the way out the gym is healthy, but it really isn't if the protein isn't raw or clean.
SHAPE: What are your favorite pre- and post-workout snacks?
KD: We always like to have coconut water before and during our workouts. After, we either have Perfect Fit Protein Pancakes; a smoothie with kale, frozen bananas, strawberries, and our Perfect Fit Protein Powder; or a clean meal, like a wrap with quinoa and lean proteins.
SHAPE: What do you nosh on a cheat day?
KD: A cheese plate and wine!
KH: I'm crazy about ice cream and chocolate, so anything in that combination.
SHAPE: How do you recover from a day you don’t stick to a workout or eating plan?
KD: With life events, friends, parties, and more, you can't expect to be perfect all the time, so learning how to bounce back without being too hard on yourself is valuable to achieving a healthy and happy life. We recommend working your booty off during the week, and if you want to have your favorite treat or go out with your girlfriends on Saturday, it's okay! Life is too short and too much fun not to celebrate it with loved ones. So be “imperfect”—it actually spells "I'm perfect.” [Tweet this quote!]
SHAPE: Getting in shape is one thing, but loving your body is another. What are your thoughts on maintaining a positive body image?
KD: Be kind to yourself. Tell yourself how beautiful you are every morning, that you can make anything happen, and that today is the first day of the rest of your life to accomplish your dreams. Any time you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, stop and say something so fantastic about yourself that you may blush. And if you catch a friend doing the same, compliment her. The more you practice these new thought patterns, the more you will love yourself naturally.
Toned Up debuts on Bravo January 2 at 10:30 p.m. E.S.T.