Working Out With... Kara Lawson

Off the court, Kara Lawson is a basketball analyst for ESPN and is one of the more respected minds in the women's game. On the court, she is an All-Star guard for the defending Western Conference champion Sacramento Monarchs. Though she regularly comes off the bench for Monarchs coach Jenny Boucek, Lawson is renowned for her scoring ability, her sparkplug style and her competitive nature. spoke recently with Lawson about how she keeps in shape to play the game she loves and what motivates her and gets her going off the court.

How would you describe the role and importance of fitness and exercise in your life?
"Even if I was not playing basketball, I would still work out for a few hours a day. It makes me feel better and I like to work out."

When did you start working out and when were you in the best shape of your life?
"Wow, I don't remember. I was pretty young. I remember doing jumping-jacks, stretching and sit-ups when I was like two years old. We have film of it, me in my little pink and purple workout outfits. It was fun."

What do you do to stay in shape during the offseason?
"I do a lot of lifting to keep my strength since I can't lift that much during the season. I also do a lot of cardio, spin classes, slide boards and plyometric stuff. I also do agility and quickness drills."

What's your favorite exercise for your lower body?
"I don't really like working on any exercise for my lower body because they all hurt. Usually I'm sore from running and playing basketball, and then I have to lift legs? But, I know that working on the lower body is so important, especially for injury prevention and staying strong during the season."

What's your favorite exercise for the upper body?
"I like working on my triceps and biceps."

What's your favorite cardio exercise?
"I like the elliptical machine. I'd rather do that than the treadmill or bike."

Is there a type of music that you listen to while you're working out?
"I don't really like to listen to music when I am working out. Sometimes I'll watch the TVs they have on in there, but they're on mute so I'll read the captions. I'll listen to music if it's on when I'm lifting, and I like country. I don't get to really listen to it too often because my teammates don't really like it."

Is there a fitness goal that you've set for yourself that you're working towards now?
"I have a couple of trainers that I work with who know me very well. I don't have goals or anything like that to do something in a certain time. They'll know if I am giving maximum effort because they work on me so often."

Is there a fitness accomplishment you're most proud of?
"I like to work out with other professional athletes. It's great because you're pushing one another to get better. Working out with guys, I try and beat them and they are pushing hard so they don't get beat by a woman. There's friendly competitiveness there and that's a healthy environment."