Staff Spotlight: Karen Beck

Karen Beck is a class instructor at the UW Health Sports Medicine Fitness CenterThe UW Health Sports Medicine Fitness Center is fortunate to have many outstanding class instructors who have stayed with us for many years. Indeed, the success of many of our programs can be attributed to the teaching/leadership abilities of these talented exercise leaders. One such instructor, who has been with us since the early 1990s, is Karen Beck.


With over 20 years of experience teaching here, Karen certainly should be recognized as one of the exceptional instructors who’ve helped build our facility into what it is today.


Currently, Karen leads the Team Survivor exercise program on Monday evenings. She has previously taught Low Impact Aerobics, Strength & Flexibility, FitKids and Indoor Cycling classes here. Her teaching versatility and enthusiastic attitude contribute to making her a highly appreciated instructor and invaluable staff member.


Karen hails from Kimberly, WI (Fox Valley) where she grew up as the fifth out of six children. One of her first jobs was being a caddie at the North Shore Golf Course, Menasha. While caddying in high school, Karen earned an Evan’s Scholarship, a four-year academic scholarship, to UW-Madison where she majored in Family and Consumer Education, Emphasis in Business and Community Education.


Karen and her husband, Tim, currently live in Madison’s near west side and have two adult children.


When her children were preschool-aged, they attended University Houses Preschool (UHP). Her interest and dedication to the preschoolers coupled with her business and community education allowed her to fill many roles at the school. From treasurer parent board member to classroom parent helping to teaching to directing, Karen has been an integral part of the growth and development of the University House Preschool (as well as hundreds of young ones who have passed through it).


Always the active sort, Karen has many hobbies ranging from ice hockey to gardening and sea kayaking to camping. Oh yeah, and she’s a bee keeper too!  It is impossible to adequately portray all (or even most) sides of this wonderfully eclectic person, so we’ll defer to Karen’s own responses below.


Why did you start teaching exercise classes? 


I like to guide and help people reach their goals. I started teaching low impact aerobics in 1991. I started teaching Strength and Flexibility at Sports Medicine April 1993 at the University Avenue location where Whole Foods is now. Through out the years, I've taught low impact aerobics, strength & flexibility, spinning, FitKids and variety pack.


What do you like about working here?  


Participants. Quality staff trainings.




Kimberly, WI


Current residence


Madison, WI




August 22




Yes. Tim Bohm is my partner for life. We have 2 children, Ellie (21) and Alex (18).




Walking stick insects, honey bees, succulent planters and monarch caterpillars in the summer.


Favorite Music


Disco and Oldies. Anything I can sing along to on a ukulele.


Favorite Color 




Favorite TV Shows


Big Bang Theory, Nova and Nature




Sea kayaking in the Apostle Islands, tent camping, gardening that includes two rain gardens with native plants for pollinators, a monarch oasis with three different types of milkweed and nectar sources for monarchs, and a salsa garden. Hockey scrimmage groups.  I started playing hockey when I was 24 years old and still play today! Honey beekeeper for 10 years. Since 2009, as a Westmorland Park Ice Rink Crew Chief who leads volunteers and interacts with city park staff, we have received two awards from the City of Madison, Parks.


Favorite Foods


85% dark chocolate, ethnic foods, dark roast coffee


Favorite Vacation spots (thus far)


Apostle Islands. Tim and I have been sea kayak camping at the Apostle Islands over 10 years.


Nick-names you’ve had


Mom, Team Mom, Kawen and Tawen


People I admire


People with open honest communication who know how to take care of themselves or know how to ask for help.


Brush with greatness


Every day get to I enjoy preschoolers!


Something very few people know about me that I’m willing to divulge here


I sang in a band called the "Stoplights." I drive a 1995 Toyota Corolla that has 129,000 miles.