The S.B. Questionnaire: Karen Kledzik

Inside the Fit Mind of The Spinning Goddess

Karen Kledzik
Paul Wellman

It’s only 5:45 a.m. on a weekday, but there’s already a party going on at the Santa Barbara Athletic Club, where the festivites got so rowdy a few years back that the neighbors called the cops. The excitement emanates from the third floor balcony as euphoric individuals sing, laugh, and sweat to one of the most popular exercise classes in town. It’s a dedicated, pretty diverse group of people, and they get there extra early to reserve their stationary bicycles.

The popularity of this class at such an ungodly hour is due to the instructor endearingly known as “The Spinning Goddess.” Karen Kledzik, who’s been teaching spinning and other fitness programs for more than 20 years, goes to extreme lengths to motivate her devoted followers. She will wear costumes — to celebrate, of all things, Pirate’s Day — she will tell jokes and self-deprecating anecdotes, and she’ll play Motown songs so everyone can sing along. Ultimately, she’ll do anything to keep you moving.

What is your greatest fear?

Public speaking. I just get tongue-tied whenever I think of standing up to address a large group of people.

Who do you most admire?

My mother. I admire her energy and joie de vivre. She is my mentor, my coach, my cheerleader, and my best friend.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Lululemon clothes. I can’t get enough. I have items I still have not worn but I still want more.

What is your current state of mind?

In transition. I worry about the future and yet I want nothing more than to embrace the day and live in the moment. I am working on the latter. Worrying is such a waste of time and energy.

What is the quality you most like about people?

I love people that have a great sense of humor and are able to bring happiness to others. There is no greater gift than the gift of laughter.

What quality do you dislike most in people?

I really hate people who are bullies. They do nothing but destroy the human spirit.

What do you most value in friends?

Friends are my lifeline. They are always there to listen to me and to give me advice and support.

What do you enjoy doing most?

I love exercising. When I add my friends to the mix, it just doesn’t get any better. I also enjoy traveling with my girlfriends. We have created many wonderful memories. Just thinking of them now brings a smile to my face.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Hmm. I would have to get someone to answer that for me.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Singing. I never made fourth grade choir and this impacted me for much of my life. I mentioned to my 5:45 a.m. spin class that I felt I had a singer in me, but the incident in fourth grade made me doubt that I had any talent. Those wonderful spinners purchased singing lessons as a birthday gift for me. I did go on to produce two hometown CDs. I will never be an “American Idol” but my voice now has a song to sing.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My big feet. As a young girl I always had big feet and, of course, I was encouraged to wear saddle shoes, which only made them look bigger. I know as I have grown my feet are now more proportional to my body, however I still see them as too large for me.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in life?

I am a good wife, mother, and friend.

Where would you like to live?

Growing up in the Detroit area, I cannot imagine living anywhere other than Santa Barbara. I am still amazed at the beauty of this town and people that live here.

What is your most treasured possession?

My sweet black Labrador, Stella. Maybe it is not right to call her a possession. I am really her guardian. However, she is my responsibility for the rest of her life and I treasure all the good times we have together.

Who makes you laugh the most?

My friends. I especially like to revisit certain situations and enjoy the humor all over again.

What is the best part about your job?

Meeting some very lovely and interesting people. An added benefit is the exercise component.

What is your motto?

Never hurt anyone intentionally.

Who is your favorite singer?

I really could not pick out one favorite singer in my life. Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Marvin Gaye, Mick Jagger, the Isley Brothers, and so many more. All of them inspire me.

What’s your favorite song?

If I had to pick my favorite song, I guess it would be “This Old Heart of Mine.” Whenever I hear this song it gets me dancing and motivated. It has the same effect on me no matter who sings it.

How do you get a party started?

Getting a party started is quite simply getting the people on the dance floor. You may start out with one or two people having a great time dancing and this becomes contagious. Eventually the floor becomes packed and the endorphins are flowing and everyone is having a good time. Incorporating a little alcohol makes it a little bit easier to start the party.


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