Tone It Up’s Karena Dawn and Katrina Hodgson got their start in 2009 making fitness videos on YouTube. With more than 30 million views to date, the videos showcase the women bringing an infectiously fun approach to working out, from their morning “Booty Call” to their “Cowabunga” total-body toning routine. But the two beach-loving ladies didn’t stop there.
They launched their own workout DVDs, apparel line and protein powder — and even starred in a reality show on Bravo, Toned Up! And now Karena and Katrina, better known as the Tone It Up girls, recently debuted their own line of sunglasses with Oakley. We caught up with the duo to learn about the inspiration behind the specs and how they balance their own workouts with their growing fitness empire. Try their favorite 20-minute beach workout below!
Tell us about the sunglasses line. Why did you decide to create it?
Karena: We’ve been wearing Oakley forever! I have been wearing them since I started competing in triathlons and Oakleys were always my active glass. When we began Tone It Up, Oakley was so excited about it and they’ve supported us since the beginning. We were talking and said ‘how about we design our own glasses?’ Mine are my favorite activewear frame [the Overtime]. If you look at the blues in the “O” on the frame, it’s inspired by my favorite painting, “The Wave.”
Katrina: Oakley asked what inspired us, and my frames are inspired by my mermaid painting. I love the coral color on every woman.
How important is sun protection when it comes to your eyes?
Katrina: It’s so important to protect your eyes and around them while you’re outside. I’ve played tennis my whole life, and never wore sunglasses, so I almost went blind in one eye. You never know how much the sun is affecting you, so protection is number one. And if your sunglasses are slipping off your face, you’re not going to continue to wear them.
So these are glasses you wear when you work out?
Karena: Yup! They have the no-slip gear, and they’re an active glass so they’re super lightweight. You can wear them for everything from running to cycling to errands.
You live in California now and are lucky enough to have great weather all the time to keep you motivated to stay in shape. What kind of advice do you have for people in colder weather climates who want to stay bikini-ready year round?
Karena: We’re from Indiana and New Hampshire, so we both totally understand the weather and how you can get depressed when it’s gross out. All of our workouts on toneitup.com, you can do in your own living room.
Katrina: We like to tell our family and clients to set up a space in your home with a basket of your favorite things, so you look forward to working out. Maybe put in some things that inspire you, like photos from a vacation you loved or something else you’re looking forward to.
Everyone loves beach weekends but vacationing with friends can derail even our best intentions. What’s your advice for staying on track while traveling?
Katrina: When you’re with your friends, you want to have a good time. You want to indulge. It’s all balance, and we know everyone says that, but we really believe if you go away for a weekend and everyone’s enjoying pizza, enjoy pizza. Don’t beat yourself up about it because then that entire next week after you’re back, it’s going to be a downward spiral. It’s really important to realize if you can include those indulgent weekends in part of your lifestyle, it makes life that much sweeter.
Karena: We have a great “bounce back” post on our site, too, so after a weekend like that, follow the guidelines [such as hydrating and eating mostly raw].
Do you have any favorite beach snacks?
Katrina: I love chicken salad with raisins on the beach — it reminds me of New England. We also have a video of our favorite boat snacks. And we love sangria and freezing grapes to put in it so the wine doesn’t get watered down.
What are your tips for feeling confident in a bikini, and are there any moves you do before getting on the beach?
Karena: It really is in the way that you carry your body. All women are so beautiful, and should just work with what they have. Posture is very important. Don’t slouch over — walk tall and walk confident, because then you’ll ooze confidence.
Enjoy the beach and enjoy your day – and do a few squats! Or do some downward dog – just to stretch out.
Who are your fitness heroes?
Katrina: Each other! But really, our community. We’re constantly amazed by women who have three kids at home and have so much going on, yet they still manage to do our workouts in the morning. Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world!
We’re also inspired by full-time students and all of these women in New York hustling and bustling — getting to work, working a full day, getting home and still managing to fit in our workouts.
You both work a lot. How do you prioritize your own workouts?
Karena: It’s hard! We’ll admit it’s tough some days, but we got to set that alarm really early. We’re up most days before 6 am.
Karena, you just finished a half-Ironman — how did you balance that training with your lifestyle?
Karena: Balancing was tough. I’ll admit I didn’t train as much as I wanted, but my goal was just to finish. I got up a lot earlier than usual. On the weekends, I did all of my long rides and my long runs.
The bike is my favorite, and that was my strongest sport. I didn’t hill train at all for this race, and I had no clue how intense the hills would be. I cried, but it was such an experience.
The Tone It Up Bikini Body Workout
Try this quick, 20-minute bikini workout you can do on the sand. The full-body circuit will tone your abs and tighten your glutes. Perform 15-20 reps for each exercise. Repeat for three rounds.
Start with two dumbbells by your side, with your arms straight and your knees slightly bent (a). Hinge at your hip, and bend down as far as you can without rounding your back. Keep the weights close to your legs, but not touching them (b). Squeeze your glutes and come up at a faster speed than you went down.
2. Walking Lunge with Shoulder Press
Step out with your left foot, until your heel touches a few feet in front of you in the sand (a). Bend your knees to 90 degrees (b). As you come up, press both dumbbells over your head. Bring them down, and return to the original position (c).
3. Plank with Tummy Tucks
Start in a plank position (a). Bring one knee up to your elbow on the same side of the body, and then on the opposite side of the body (b). Repeat on the other side.
Begin on your hands and knees (a). Raise your right arm straight in front of you, and lift your left leg to a position where it is nearly parallel with the floor (b). Repeat on your right side.
5. Glute Bridge
Lie on your back with your feet flat, in a bent-knee position (a). Lift your hips up, as you press your heels down for extra stability (b). Engage your core as you raise your hips, and lower slowly to your starting position.