Karina Smirnoff: The Beautiful Dancing Star

Best known for her fancy footwork on “Dancing with the Stars,” Karina Smirnoff has also had several small acting roles, something she hopes to pursue. But as a five time U.S. National Ballroom Champion, and the first woman to make the British Professional Final (Dance Competition) with three different partners, dancing is in her blood.

Ukraine-born Smirnoff started ballet lessons when she was 5 years old. She also studied gymnastics, aerobics, figure skating, ballroom dancing and piano. “I think I am a little ADD,” she said.

Karina credits her early training with helping her to develop the steely discipline she needs to win so many ballroom competitions. It is also the discipline she uses on “Dancing with the Stars”, a show that by all accounts is rigorous for both the professional dancers and the celebrity contestants. We spoke to Karina about everything from her fitness and beauty tips, to how she balances all aspects of her life.

Fitness and Exercise

On the show, the dancers have to train their celebrity partners, many of whom have little or no dance training. “None of the celebrities know what they are getting into when they agree to the show,” she said. “They have no idea how difficult it will be. There are injuries. Marie Osmond fainted, and Christian de la Fuente hurt his arm. You have to gauge what you do depending on their age and what shape they’re in. Steve Guttenberg was 49, but he was in very good shape. But Shannon (Elizabeth) was not, and she was often out of breath. It depends on the person.”

Karina is careful to stay in shape herself. “When I am not working on the show, I like to go to the gym for a couple of hours. I do a little cardio and some light weights. I also do a lot of forward lunges because that is the most important thing for dance. I work out all the time between the seasons and during the seasons to maintain strong stamina. Dancing is physically demanding, so you can’t lack stamina.” Smirnoff also credits eating right, sleeping well and knowing when to take short two minutes breaks to helping maintain her stamina throughout the day.

Beauty Tricks

Smirnoff picked up some beauty tricks from the professionals on the show. “I always watch how they line our eyes, and then I practice at home.” But when it comes to beauty secrets, Smirnoff is a down-to-earth girl who depends on common sense. “When get nine hours of sleep, I look and feel my best.”

Smirnoff is also writing a book to share some of her natural beauty secrets. She is a big believer in the benefits of olive oil, aloe vera and fresh lemons for beautiful skin. She likes the healing properties of aloe and uses olive oil for everything from taking off eye makeup to moisturizing.

She credits her love for a natural approach to beauty to her family Russian-Greek family background.

Balancing Life and Fame

Karina has been linked romantically to her dancing partners, from Mario Lopez to Maksim Chmerkovskiy. It comes with the territory; dancing is romantic, especially when the dancer is as attractive as Smirnoff. “It is complicated because there is always chemistry in dancing. We have to create chemistry,” she says. “You need to tell the story between a man and a woman. And it’s flattering that we act so well that they always want to believe it.”

Although she is still surprised at how popular, the show is, Karina is taking it all in stride.