Karen's Life In A Nutshell

Described as “highly energetic,” charismatic, and full of boundless energy, Karen has taught thousands of students over the past thirty years of her fitness and dance career.

            Born and raised in the Midwest, Karen earned her Masters in Physical Education from the prestigious Butler University. After a decade spent working for the public school system and the YWCA of Indianapolis, she applied her expertise and vision to found a fitness and dance studio in Zionsville, Indiana. For nearly fifteen years, she headed and trained a staff of forty instructors who were among some of the first teachers in Indiana to offer the pre-cursor to yoga training and an all mens’ exercise class in the eighties.

            A wanderlust at heart, Karen journeyed to Arizona over ten years ago to work for the park service at Sunset Crater National Monument. Since then, she has fallen in love with Flagstaff’s high desert alpine landscape and the thriving arts community.  During the past decade, she has taught fitness and dance at Northern Arizona University, Coconino Community College, and the Flagstaff Recreation Center as well as private students seeking her expertise in nutrition, fitness, and dance.

            A passionate dancer and choreographer for over three decades, she has also founded the Flagstaff-based Turkish Egyptian performance group, “Al Rakasaat,” which has appeared throughout the county at festivals and special events. For more information about her dance career, please visit

           In addition to her involvement in fitness and dance, Karen is an adventurer and avid traveler. She is an intrepid horseback rider with the Grand Canyon Hounds participating in rides in Arizona, Nevada, and California.

           As a lover of the mountains, she has traveled on five continents and trekked in Nepal, Tibet/China, India, Vietnam, and Mexico.  Her most recent trip to Morocco included riding camels through the Sahara and winter trekking in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Her writing has been published in the local paper. You can follow her travel adventures with her daughter Rachel at:


Karen and her daughter, Rachel,
at breakfast in Santa Barbara, California

Trekking in the rice fields of
North Vietnam
Embraced by a baby elephant
in Chiang Mai, Thailand


Copyright Rachel S. Thurston 2007. All rights reserved.
Last Updated June 25, 2009

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