In 1995, when the internet was just starting to gain popularity, there was a beautiful Hawaiian woman, who was starting to make noise in the fitness industry. Making her name as a television host, fitness expert, author, actress, businesswoman, wife and mother, Kiana Tom completely revolutionized the “work-out video” aspect of fitness, and to this day is still one of the biggest names in the industry.
In 1995, Kiana created, hosted and co-produced her fitness series, Kiana’s Flex Appeal, a lifestyle, health and fitness program on ESPN. She wrote numerous exercise routines and created the segments: home gym, pro gym, target training, and aqua flex training. The show no long airs, but reruns are seen in 80 countries by over 100 million viewers.
Due to Kiana Tom’s Flex Appeal’s initial high ratings, ESPN chose to develop other shows around Kiana Tom, including Kiana’s Too Fit 2 Quit, Summer Sizzle with Kiana and Hot Summer Nights with Kiana.
If you aren’t into ESPN or Fitness, or were too busy playing little-league in 1995, you may also recognize Kiana from hosting ABC Super Bowl Nightlife, being the Host and Reporter for the Extreme Sports shows, X Games, Extreme Energy, Fitness America Pageant Series, Blade Warriors, King of the Mountain and a news anchor for Turner Broadcasting.
She also made guest appearances on the Drew Carey Show, Family Law and was in Eminem’s Grammy Award winning Music Video of the Year “Without Me.” Kiana also co-starred in her first movie, Universal Soldier: The Return with Jean Claude Van Damme. There’s not much she hasn’t done.
Interivew with Kiana
Who are you?
Aloha! My name is Kiana Tom, I was born in Maui, Hawaii and am Hawaiian, Chinese and a dash of Irish! My name, Kiana, also means Island and Princess in Hawaiian.
What five words best describe you?
Optimistic, happy, fit, fun, family
Where did you attending university and what did you study?
UCLA! I studied a lot of different subjects. My favourite was public speaking.
How and when did you get into fitness and modeling?
While I was attending college, I started swimsuit modeling and signed with a top modeling agency that specializes in sports advertising and athletic models. They only signed models who were very athletic, and who could not just stand with a motorcycle, racing bike, snowboard, skis, but also do that sport. This led to an audition for a show on EPSN called ‘Bodyshaping’. I auditioned for the show and got the job as a cast member. My original job description was to workout in a bikini and count the number of reps I did!? Guess I did a good job since I went on to host the show! Then I had someone else do the rest ; ) HA!
What inspired you to start Kiana’s Flex Appeal?
At the time of Bodyshaping, the body building industry was huge (and so were the men and women!). For me, it seemed unrealistic for healthy, active people to want to achieve such gigantic muscles. I wanted to create a television show that motivated all types of people of all fitness levels to live healthier, more active lifestyles. That is what inspired me to create Kiana’s Flex Appeal. I am proud to say that Kiana’s Flex Appeal became the highest rated show in the history of the entire network after only 1 week of airing! I created it in 1995 and re-runs are still airing today! Kiana’s Flex Appeal reaches 80 millions homes worldwide in over 100 countries!
It’s so much fun to travel all over the world and meet flex appealers. I was in Singapore and saw the shows with subtitles. I met a little girl in Alaska that said her mom named her Kiana after me. WOW!
Everything you just said is truly amazing! You’ve stated your two daughters motivate you more than anything. How important is healthy active living in their lives? Do they follow in mom’s footsteps?
Yes! My two daughters are ages five and nine, and are so active and fun! Our 9-year-old reads the nutritional breakdowns on the foods and is shocked at how much sugar and chemicals are in so many foods. Our 5-year-old literally told another little girl in a passing grocery cart “You shouldn’t buy that cereal with the toys in it! There’s too much sugar!” They play “fitness games” that they make up, they make little obstacle courses and tell their dolls to work out. It’s Great!
That’s great! Sounds like you have created two mini-Kiana’s! Did you start Fit Mom TV because of your little ones? Can you describe what Fit Mom TV is to those who don’t know yet?
Great question!! I started Fit Mom TV to help busy moms. Fit Mom TV is the Premier Fitness Web Series. We had moms from 96 countries tuning in after just two months of launch!
When I had my first child… Wow, I was thrown for a loop. Before kids, I worked out 2+ hours per day and had a lot of time for myself. Now, zero time for me! As a new mom, I had to completely revamp my workout routines, so that they are more intense and shorter in duration. I am very busy, but I try hard to put workouts online for other busy moms to follow! We have hundreds of free exercise videos, workout routines, and exercise tutorials. It’s a terrific resource for busy moms! We have everything; fitness routines, healthy recipes, helpful tips and so much more!
You’ve done just about everything imaginable in the fitness world hosting Kiana’s Flex Appeal” for Fox Sports Network (seen in 83 millions homes Monday-Friday), to hosting the X-Games and the national and international Fitness America Pageant series. Out of all your media and TV accomplishments, which one are you most proud of?
Creating and hosting Kiana’s Flex Appeal is the one I am most proud of. Case in point: I was interviewed on CBS and they said to me, “Kiana, you and your show ‘Kiana’s Flex Appeal’, defined an era. You really made your mark on the 20th century.” That made the think of what I had accomplished and it sank in that I really had touched so many people’s life. It makes me so happy to know that millions of people all around the world, in different cultures and economic statuses were and still are motivated by my show.
You received the coveted “United States Sports Academy Eisenhower Award” as one of the nation’s top role models in the health and fitness industry. How honored were you and can you put into words how it felt to win?
It is an extreme honor to be recognized on such a high level, and to be in such good company as Lance Armstrong and Arnold. I was asked to speak on the President’s council on fitness for kids for Fox News. That was an honor too!!
Having graced the covers and pages of hundreds of magazines, do you remember your first one? (If so what was it?) Do you have any magazines still on your bucket list?
Good question. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that (and I’ve done A LOT of interviews!). My very first cover was bicycling magazine, and it is on my website. I was even more excited that they let me keep the bike and the cycling clothes! I modeled in my first fashion show when I was in elementary school. My parents inspired me to be involved in television, my father was an actor in the original Charlie Chan Detective Series and had contacts with 20th Century Fox. He worked with the legend Shirley Temple! My mom was a Phys Ed Teacher and when I was born, she stuck a tennis racket in my hand instead of a baby rattle. I guess that explains a lot.
You work as well with ESPN and CBS and a writer and fitness expert. Did you ever imagine going up you’d be literally the Queen of Fitness, recognized in over 100 countries? Is it ever overwhelming?
It is when I want to eat French Fries in public!? Kidding!! It is so exciting and overwhelming to think of how many people’s lives I’ve touched. When I travel, it’s much bigger.
The response to your ESPN videos was so great that they had you do more shows, such as Too Fit 2 Quit, Summer Sizzle, Hot Summer Nights, Cross Training and Extreme Energy. How on earth do you have so much energy do all this? Do you ever burn out?
Yes, I had quite the ambitious schedule. I would host Kiana’s Flex Appeal in Hawaii for three weeks, filming 10 hours per day. Then hop on a plane to Rhode Island to do the X-games the next morning!! Yikes!! I literally had three suitcases packed at all times, ready to go! My assistant would wash all the clothes and repack them every week!
I did burn out, but it was a good thing. That is when I met my husband, and we started a family. If I had been working that much, and traveling non-stop I would have never had the time or interest enough to get involved in a serious relationship.
Years ago you starred in Eminem’s music video ‘Without Me.’ What was he like to work with?
Eminem in really funny! You are the first one to know this, but when I filmed that video, I was 6 months pregnant at the time of the video shoot, sexy blue lingerie, high heels and all! I did not show at all so no one knew, but I was very tired so I stayed in my trailer until it was my scene. After the shoot was over, I hopped in the limo, went straight back home and took a nap!!
What was it like appearing as a guest on the Drew Carrey show? What did you do on the show? Did you have anything to do with his weight loss?
That was a riot!! Evidently Drew Carey loved Vegas and used to watch Kiana’s Flex Appeal on the big sports screens at Caesars Palace. I heard that the casino even took bets on what I would say or do… too funny. Anyway, Drew had his people call my people and asked me to be on his show. We did a few episodes. The one that was the most fun was a competition to win a refrigerator! Drew and I played hockey on inline skates and used leaf blowers. His whole cast is hysterical!!!
What is the most part challenging part about maintaining such a stunning figure?
Smoke and mirrors (I hope my incredible wit and sarcasm translates in a print interview ) Being fit and healthy is a lifestyle choice. I workout faithfully, and I eat right. When I cheat, I make up for it somewhere else. I drink lots of water and I laugh a lot.
What does your diet consist of?
I eat 6 Mini Meals per day that include: lean protein, complex carbs, fresh fruit, organic green veggies and lots of water. Readers can check out my healthy recipe e-book, recipe blog and my personal 7 day meal plans, too! The link is: http://shop.kiana.com
Do you have any foods you completely avoid? Or any cheat foods?
I am lucky that I don’t really like sweets. My cheat food is extra crunchy super fresh and hot french fries. I love crunchy foods. I strive for moderation, and believe that if my body truly craves something, I must need it.
What is your workout routine like? Do you follow one?
After spending 2-3 hours a day in the gym my entire life, now having 2 kids, running a business and a household….I am LOVING the outdoor gym I set up. It has all the professional gear, it’s covered, there’s fresh air and a beautiful ocean view. I have many of the machines from the set of Kiana’s Flex Appeal in my gym INSIDE the house, but I prefer training outdoors. I workout 5 days per week and do strength training, intervals, body weight training and I am active on my days off. I train each body part twice per week, jog or walk on the beach and do HIIT 1-2 times per week. I have hundreds of exercise routines and tutorials on the website: kiana.com & fitmomtv.com under menu item: “GET FIT!”
What part of your body do you take the most pride in?
I love my shoulders and arms. And the fact that my tummy is flat and strong after having 2 kids! My advice to busy moms (and dads) who have kids and careers is to “do a little A LOT!” You must exercise everyday even if it’s only for 20 minutes. Do something! Anything! Walk, jog, go up and down your stairs! Just MOVE! When it comes to being fit, the benefits of exercise are cumulative. A little here and there… all adds up. Lunch Break: Walk 15. Coffee Break: Squats & Push Ups. You get the picture…
What music do you listen to when working out?
I have always loved Eminem & Aerosmith! True Story: My firefighter hubby and I were backstage at Aerosmith’s concert, I was posing for a photo with Steve Tyler and Joe Perry and for some reason these “other guys” kept getting in the photo with us!? I nicely asked them to move down and they said, “Kiana we’re in the band too, we want to be in the picture with you!?” OOPS.
Do you take any supplements pre, during or post workout?
I train 1st thing in the morning, and don’t eat until afterwards. I find I get leaner faster. If I train later, I’ll have a banana. I take a sports multi vitamin and focusing on getting most of my nutrients from actual food - what a concept! I eat foods close to the ground, I avoid processed foods and anything with MSG or chemicals. Tip 1: If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, don’t buy it. Tip 2: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where the meat, dairy, fresh fruits & veggies are, and avoid the center aisles where the processed foods: cookies, cakes, chips hang out.
Do you have a quote or any closing words for your fans and the readers of Lion’s Den U?
I love reading all of your letters, emails and posts on my FaceBook Page! Keep them coming and I hope everyone loves this feature!!
We’re sure they will Kiana! ♥
About the Author: TheCoach knows his stuff. Now you can either utilize the knowledge, or regret that you didn't.