We step out with one of the world’s most-famous dancers and ask Strictly’s Karen Hauer to share her fitness and motivational tips to help you reach new heights…
Words: Suzanne Baum | Photography: Blake Ezra Studios | Hair and make-up: Ayelet Garson
Ever since Karen Hauer joined the Strictly Come Dancing cast in 2012 she has kept us all on our toes. From her breath-taking floor work, stunning outfits and celebrity dance partners, she has given viewers a lot to twist and shout about. As the show’s longest-running professional dancer, the 39-year-old – who turns 40 this April – is used to the highs and lows of the competition and being in the public eye. Yet, for someone who spends most of her time flying through the air, she is very much grounded.
The Venezuelan Latin ballroom dancer, who will soon be performing in the Firedance show (tickets are on sale until March 25 – get yours now at firedancelive.co.uk) with Gorka Marquez, is passionate about encouraging women to embrace fitness and live their best lives. So, who better to ask for some advice and tips to help us stride out in style than the dancing queen herself? Here’s what Karen Hauer had to say…
As a dancer, you’ve often described your body as a machine. Has it always felt that way?
‘Dancing is part of my life, it is what defines me. I don’t know life without dance as I have been doing it since I was a little girl. The nature of my job means it is important my body works like a machine. It is a bit like how you fill your car up with petrol – in order to work it needs to have the right fuel. That is why caring for my body, both physically and nutritionally, is so vital, as my days can sometimes consist of 11 hours of dancing work.
You have had such a colourful and successful career. Has there ever been a time when you have struggled with the job?
‘I feel like I have been on a train the last 30 years, working non-stop and always on-the-go with my job, so the hardest time has been when I was forced to come to a stop. And that happened when I hurt my knee last year and couldn’t dance, which led to me struggling both physically and mentally, and put me in a bad place in my head. Not only was I not used to not moving my body, I was scared I may never heal properly and be able to dance to my best ability.
‘The good news is, however, that injury forced me to stop, to slow down and acted like a reset button for me. I still have physio daily but it meant, after the break from dancing, I was able to come back to work feeling the best version of myself ever. I think I came to terms with the fact that as I am getting older, my body will have its knocks and that it is just part of change.’
And what about the most memorable parts of your career?
‘There have been so many. Obviously, being the longest professional dancer on Strictly has been amazing, I feel lucky to have met so many brilliant people – from my first partner Westlife’s Nicky Byron to last year’s Greg Wise. In fact, I just feel lucky, full stop.
‘I can’t believe I do a job embracing something that I love so much, I have to pinch myself. I’m this small girl from New York Bronx that could have chosen a wrong turn in life, but I chose the right path and made a name for myself. I don’t feel any kind of celebrity as my family keeps me grounded and my mum instilled such great values into me. I just strive to do the best I can.’
When it comes to nutrition, how do you keep yourself fuelled when you are dancing 11-hour days?
‘I love talking about food and encouraging people to eat well and not diet. People always have this assumption that dancers eat nothing and live on lettuce, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I have to eat more as I need to fuel my body and have the energy to keep going.
‘As a professional dancer, you have to respect your body and feed it well, not live on air. I eat a lot of chicken and vegetables, protein bars and carbs, and, if I want to eat a doughnut or two, I do. Plus, I swear by vitamins – I take turmeric and magnesium to help keep my bones strong.’
Read the full interview with Karen Hauer in our April 2022 issue. Click here to order your copy now and get it delivered direct to your door – with free postage and packing!