About Karen: "Karen White is a Tier III Personal Trainer at Equinox Fitness Club in Tysons Corner, VA. After working on Capitol Hill in Washington DC for 12 years, she made a career switch that would enable her to pursue a healthier lifestyle and permit more quality time with her husband and four children.
In addition to her personal training career at Equinox, she has also earned a National Physique Title in both Figure and All-Natural Body Building in 2008. Other successful, fitness related endeavors include an Athletic scholarship to the University of Louisiana, Outdoor Boot Camp Instructor, Strength and Conditioning Coach for Horizons Basketball Association, a Bronze medal in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu through the US Grappling Association and Physique Competition Coaching and Judging Official for NASF, USBF and OCB Federations."
Karen was kind enough to answer questions for us as part of our Featured Trainer series.
1.Share a little about your fitness background. How did you become a personal trainer? How long have you been a trainer?
I’ve played various sports my entire life and earned an athletic scholarship for Softball to the University of Louisiana after High School. As a collegiate athlete, I was introduced to a more comprehensive workout regimen that included weight training, cardio vascular programs, SAQ (Speed, Agility and Quickness) drills and Nutrition. Although I loved that level of structured fitness, I wasn’t able to sustain it once I graduated college and began working for Congress.
Throughout my 12 year stint working on Capitol Hill, I rarely had time to workout at all due to grueling work hours, long commutes and juggling the responsibilities that come with being married and having four children. One day, I just got tired of not having any “quality of life” and decided to make a career change so that I could spend time doing things that actually make me happy. What good is success if you aren’t happy or healthy enough to enjoy it? That question made me re-evaluate my definition of success and that’s when I became the “Master of my own universe”.
Becoming a full time personal trainer and Boot Camp instructor 14 years ago, was the best thing I have ever done. I also train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and currently pursuing another certification in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Conditioning.
2. What makes your training style unique?
My style is unique because I relate with every client on an individual level. I spend a significant amount of time finding out what motivates them and I make the connection between what I’m programming for them physically to their life experiences, fitness goals and life goals. I believe that the mind, body AND spirit have to be nurtured in order to achieve success and maintain it. If clients feel positive and motivated in the gym with me, it conveys to every other aspect of their lives.
Additionally, as an Equinox trainer, I implement a 3 cycle system that introduces strength and conditioning foundations in phase 1, coordination and balance in phase 2 and advanced training techniques in phase 3. It doesn’t matter if someone is pre/postnatal, advanced athlete, overweight or suffering from a host of muscular pathologies, my programs are designed specifically for their respective needs and they are progressed safely and effectively.
3. If you could change one behavior you see in your clients, what would it be?
It would be for them to manage their expectations as far as their nutrition is concerned. Far too often, clients will give me 100% when they train only to negate all of their efforts by eating the wrong foods. I encourage everyone to keep a food journal, at least until they have establish better eating habits. Otherwise, they may get frustrated when changes in their body don’t happen as quickly as they would like.
4. What is your favorite exercise and why?
Hands down, my favorite exercise is a compound movement that includes a pull-up and a burpee push-up. It’s a total body exercise that incorporates resistance training, flexibility, explosive movements and a cardio component. However, it’s very advanced. The inchworm with a push-up is another favorite exercise and is more practical if you haven’t mastered a pull-up yet. It’s great for core engagement, hamstring flexibility, shoulder stability and chest/triceps/deltoid strength.
5. Briefly describe your weekly workout schedule. Is it seasonal? How many rest days do you take each week?
My workout schedule does vary from season to season and also depends on how many nights I can train Jiu Jitsu. Ideally, I try to work out a minimum of 4 times per week unless I’m training for a competition, in which case, I train 6 times a week. I’m definitely more active in the warmer months and like to train outside more often.
6. What is your favorite outdoor Washington D.C. area activity? Do you have a favorite hike or run?
My favorite D.C. area activity is to hike Billy Goat trail in Great Falls Park. It’s not far from the city and it offers scenic hiking and rock climbing for all fitness levels. I also enjoy playing softball in West Potomac Park in D.C.
7. What is your favorite DC area restaurant to get a healthy meal?
I enjoy Season 52 in Tysons Corner. It’s a really nice Grill and Wine Bar not far from Equinox. They guarantee that every item on their menu is 475 calories or less and the menu changes with each season. The food is delicious and calorie counting is easy.
8. What do you like most about being a personal trainer?
The best part of my job is that I make a significant difference in people’s lives. Whether, I help them transform their bodies, get them off medications, get them off the floor when they’ve fallen or make them stronger for whatever life has in store for them…I improve the quality of their lives, so that, they too, can become the Master of their universe.