She’s wowed us for six years on Strictly Come Dancing and her live tours are always a hot ticket. We are certainly fans of Karen, 36, who is about to set off to dance her way across the UK from 22nd May on the Karen and Kevin tour, with her now ex-husband Kevin Clifton.
The couple separated after three years of marriage last month but have insisted they will remain friends and continue to dance together.
We caught up with Karen the day before she started training to find out how a dancer’s life is treating her.
Embracing her fabulous new look and feeling more in control and confident than ever, as she embarks on an exciting new chapter of her life as a single lady, Karen was relaxed, friendly and a lot of fun!
I used to have really long black hair for 18 years and I suddenly woke up one day and started changing slowly. I like the fact I have made a new change, it has made me feel different and it has given me a push. I feel a bit more edgy.
I love life on the road, the first company I joined I toured with them for four years, it was a world tour so it was amazing to be on the road and go out and explore, it gives you an opportunity to see amazing things, different kinds of people and performance, which is quite amazing.
The only thing I miss is a home cooked meal but there’s plenty of brilliant restaurants around the UK so I’m looking forward to trying them.
I stay healthy by burning so many calories during the day. It’s a two-hour show and in the day we also rehearse for another two hours so I have to make sure I eat well. I avoid fried foods, we, sometimes I will sneak in a sneaky fried chicken, sometimes it’s got to be done!
But I try to take healthy snacks with me all the time. I make sure I have a good amount of carbohydrates and protein. I do have a really sweet tooth so any kind of chocolate or donuts are welcome. I love Cadburys chocolate and I have a box of Krispy Kreme donuts looking at me right now but all the sugar I get today will have been burned off by tomorrow!
I have been hitting my workouts at home a bit more consecutively. I do a solid thirty minutes of non-stop exercise, lots of core, lots of stuff that gets heart rate up, do lots of floor work for abs and lower back, lots of squats.
Anything to do with upper and lower body and that gets my heart rate up. Then it won’t be so much as a shock to my system then when I start rehearsing.
And of course, lots of stretching! I have my dog, Betty, who loves working out with me. She warms me up, she starts running around and I chase her around. It’s important to be mentally and physically stable so I like going on long walks, getting inspiration, listening to music. I also watch other dancers even on videos to get inspiration. It’s important starting a tour of 44 dates that you are at the top of your game.
Last year my dog didn’t come on tour with me but this year I am trying to persuade the theatres to let her come with me.
She travels really well and she is really well behaved so hopefully I can – she gives me the look, that means she wants it her way. Betty’s a rescue dog, I got her from a charity called Wild At Heart and she’s from Bosnia. She looks like a little bear because she’s part, German Shepherd, part-Husky, and part Terrier –she is a big dog with little legs. She’s really cute.
I like candles, I like having the lavender spray for my room too because I like having a nice homely smell. My home smells like candles and lavender. I like a nice vanilla scent candle and spray room with lavender to make me sleep well.
It takes me two to three hours to calm down after a performance so by midnight I’m in bed and I am asleep by 1am.
Nice cup of tea – caffeine free – does the job but takes me a while. After a show you have to say ‘hi’ to people, get something to eat, if it’s a night off you might go out but most of the time I am exhausted, though the energy is still running through you. I usually end up in bed by 1pm but don’t usually have to be up til 10am.
I like box sets, I’m about to get into The Crown because I have heard so much about it. Sometimes I don’t like to get into box sets if other people are into it at the same time.
Right now I’m watching Scandal. I love reading and getting into a really good book but I do love Netflix too. It’s nice for forget about real life for a while, especially while you are travelling so much.
Karen and Kevin begin their 2018 tour of 37 venues across the UK & Ireland on 22nd May. Tickets and venues are available at kevinandkarenlive.com. Follow Karen on Instagram and YouTube for fitness inspiration @karencliftonofficial
This is the first interview that Karen has done with Lumity Life magazine in an exclusive three-part series. Look out for the next ones in the weeks to come.