The “Tone It Up” girls, aka fitness and health enthusiasts Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott, helm the mega-successful #TIU universe based in sun-drenched Hermosa Beach that includes their website and an array of popular social media platforms: Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and an Instagram account (with over 1.2 million followers) highlighting workout routines, nutrition plans, motivational quotes, lifestyle tips, products and the power of female camaraderie.
The pair first met while working out at a Manhattan Beach gym. They became friends and realized the positive impact fitness had on their lives.
Scott says she was bullied as a child. “I was the heaviest girl in my class … and I was teased on the bus,” she said. Life turned around when her supportive parents put together a home gym for her: “I started to discover taking care of myself and finding self-respect and love through fitness, and in high school I joined the tennis team and I really started to develop relationships and friendships.”
Dawn grew up watching her mom do Jane Fonda, Kathy Smith and Denise Austin fitness tapes and was super-active as a kid. “And then through high school I had some family issues ... I was in a dark place for about 10 years of my life and I turned to drug abuse and very self-destructive behavior, and there was depression,” she said. “In my early 20s I finally had this aha, breakthrough moment where I said, ‘OK, I’m either going to ruin my life or I need to make a change.’ I thought, ‘When was I the happiest in my life?’ It was being 12, running a half-marathon with my dad and being active as a child. And so my healing process and therapy was getting healthy again and I got into triathlons and surfing.”
After bonding over their similar backgrounds, they began to wonder how other women might benefit from their experiences. “We thought we could really share that passion with other women and hopefully change their lives too,” Dawn said.
They brainstormed about creating an “empowering, fun, non-intimidating and positive” community where women, no matter where they lived in the world, could connect through fitness, and the #TIU fitness behemoth was born.
We asked Scott, who studied health science and nutrition, and Dawn, who’s worked as a certified personal trainer, to share their advice on how to feel your healthiest, fit best:
1. Think positively
“We believe in expressing positive self-talk and positive talk about women and their bodies,” Scott said. “You’re beautiful in the skin you’re in … we really just preach more about the positive effects of eating healthy and working out.”
2. Start with a mantra
“Grab a journal and every morning it can even start with three words you want to live that day by. Perhaps two words that you need and one word for the people or a person around you,” Scott said. “So for yourself the two words may be ‘patience’ and ‘self-love’ and if you think the other women in your life, or co-workers, could use something like ‘strength’ or ‘kindness’ … a daily mantra and a healthy mind-set will enhance all areas of your life.”
“Most people are chronically dehydrated,” Scott said. “That negatively effects your metabolism, you may mistake dehydration for hunger, and it can make you super-lethargic where you can’t get through a workout.”
4. Set small goals
“Sometimes starting a new fitness plan can be very intimidating,” said Dawn. “So start with something as simple as committing to, say, ‘for the next six to eight weeks I am setting my alarm 30 minutes early to have me-time in the morning to make sure I get my workout in.’ Or it could be just going for a walk around your neighborhood. Something that seems attainable. Then hopefully that becomes a habit and second nature.” They added that #TIU workouts range from five minutes to an hour, so there’s something for everyone.
5. Prep for success
Go to the grocery store, meal prep for the week on a Sunday night, and make sure you have healthful options on hand — be it a salad, sandwich or snacks to battle vending-machine lures. “So that way, when you’re hungry, you’re prepared,” Scott said.
6. Find a fitness buddy
“Accountability is huge,” the Tone It Up girls agreed. And in addition, “What attracted a lot of women to our community is our friendship,” Dawn said. “Beyond fitness, #TIU is about women creating lasting friendships with each other.”
7. Manage your time
“It’s not about ‘finding’ the time but making the time and figuring out what works best,” said Scott, adding that the #TIU community talks about how they make the lifestyle work. But, she realized, “between careers and motherhood and everything that you do there are times you won’t be able to exercise and you might fall back … so I’m asked, ‘I can do your five daily moves but I can only fit cardio in two days a week – is that OK?’ And we say absolutely! Do what works for you … that’s why we’re never too strict. We don’t think you’ve failed if you don’t do it. And we incorporate rest days, yoga, meditation, foam rolling, a Saturday morning taking an hour walk with a loved one because that’s just as important as going to the gym alone.” Which brings us to …
8. Enjoy life
“We are the last trainers to tell you that you can’t enjoy some wine or some Champagne on your friend’s birthday or cake when it’s your daughter’s or niece’s birthday. … We don’t ever want to make a woman feel bad for eating a slice of pizza,” Scott said. “With our program there is a lot of enticement to make sure there is no disordered thinking or eating.”