karen kain's fitness and beauty book

For the past little while I have really let my eating & workout habits slide, although I find that whenever this happens my body sends me cues that I can’t continue to ignore. And while this winter feels endless, I can feel that the seasons are starting to change, which is always an invigorating and energizing thing for me, perhaps for most of us. It takes 6 to 8 weeks to change a habit, they say, so I am trying. My next few posts will document this.

I find fitness inspiration a little difficult to come by, but this book, Karen Kain’s Fitness & Beauty Book (1983), is so beautiful (good type, good photography) that it makes me want to get ballerina fit immediately (which, of course, good luck with that!). I found it at a thrift store this weekend and thought it was pretty well worth the $2. Growing up in Canada in the 1980s, Karen Kain was someone I really admired and respected; she was a principal ballerina of the National Ballet of Canada and is its current artistic director. She danced with Rudolph Nureyev and was immortalized by Andy Warhol. Here is an interview with her from 1976 in which she talks about how painful ballet is.

The book includes a full workout routine (non-cardio), which is probably not unlike the sort of workout you would get from a ballet barre style of class. I always love an unfussy workout that doesn’t require much in the way of equipment.

The book also includes sections on nutrition (with information from her brother, a doctor—it might be vintage 1980s but through all the trends in diet and health you can see that it always comes down to the same basic principles!), skin care, makeup, and posture. I’ll copy out the recipe for the Karen Kain Chantilly below, which was a dessert that Agriculture Canada named in her honour.

The Karen Kain Chantilly (about 135 calories per serving)

8 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, then vanilla until stiff peaks form. Line a baking sheet with greased foil. Shape meringue into rings (7 cm in diameter and 3 cm high) using a piping bag or two spoons. Bake at 250°F/120°C until set, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and let stand a further hour. May be stored up to a month in freezer. Do not thaw before filling. Makes about 25 meringues.

6 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsps. icing sugar
1 tbsp. kirsch or 1 tsp. vanilla
Combine strawberries and sugar. Whip cream, gradually adding icing sugar, then kirsch or vanilla. Fill each meringue with 1/4 cup strawberry mixture and top with 2 tbsps. whipped cream. Garnish each serving with a strawberry slice. May be held for up to half an hour at cool room temperature. Makes 25 servings.


  1. This looks like an excellent thrift store find! Have you heard of Ballet Beautiful? I bought one of her 15min arm exercises and I really enjoyed it. This was a nice reminder for me to get back into it!

    1. Yup! I have a couple of the BB DVDs :)

  2. This is awesome! Along these lines, you might also enjoy Sophia Loren's book of the same ilk. http://www.amazon.com/Women-Beauty-Sophia-Loren/dp/0688013945

  3. How lucky! This book sounds wonderful.

  4. what an amazing find! that workout looks amazing, actually- I'm going to keep an eye out for this.

  5. Amazing post!!
    may be we can follow each other. please let me know

    Twitter / tumblr/ instagram: @fashionrlounge

    A chic kiss ;)

  6. Hey girl! I go to Barreworks and will be doing their 11 week challenge. A perk is that I can encourage pals to attend a class! Would you be interested in receiving the code to register for a class? Let me know! xo

  7. Agreed - Karen Kain is a national treasure. And the NBS also offers classes for all levels/ages! My friend just signed up - his alternative to running.
    PS I'm on week 4 of making exercise a habit - it's hard but so rewarding

  8. oh i love karen kain too, & was lucky as a girl to see her preform. have you tried pilates, i hate exercising, i'm so lazy, i hate sweating or exerting myself, but i kinda love pilates, feels so graceful to do, well when i am motivated enough, that is. also, some of those exercises look like pilates based. i know how you feel i miss my summer biking around legs.

    1. Yeah, I there are some Pilates-like moves here for sure. I've tried it but it's not my favourite! Weird because I love yoga. It bores me in a way yoga doesn't!

  9. this kind of kicks my cindy crawford workout tape's ass.

    i'm totally making that chantilly, though…yum!

  10. karen kain was such an idol of mine growing up. i've been taking barre classes since the beginning of the year and a lot of the photos remind me of movements we do in class. it's a lot more intense than i thought - i had dreams of flowy, graceful, easy ballet, but it's challenging. i've never taken straight pilates, so don't know if you would find it as boring, but it satisfies my ballet cravings while showing pretty quick results.

  11. my mom had this book! i have fond memories of imitating her workout
    (and wishing i had a matching pink/grey chevron striped leotard to match hers)

  12. Anonymous6.11.15

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. I keep researching for good finds on Ballet so I'm not narrow-minded and only stick with Ballet Beautiful. Thanks for this. I will buy the book! =)