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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Karen M. Shaw, BodySculpt by Karen: Natural Health Journey Leads to Online Store

Jun 01, 2016 07:22AM ● By Allison Gorman

Karen M. Shaw
Karen M. Shaw
Karen Shaw has worn plenty of hats over the years. A personal trainer, yoga instructor and reiki master/teacher, the Peekskill native has owned and operated BodySculpt by Karen for the past 27 years, spending a great deal of that time on the West Coast and traveling internationally, creating her “body/mind enhancement” programs.

Now she’s wearing yet another hat: online retailer. Her website,, includes a new online store featuring her own line of all-natural, organic products designed to heal and rejuvenate.

Initially, Shaw created those products for her own use. While she’s always been athletic—she has a background in gymnastics, started her career as a personal trainer at Mount Kisco Athletic Club, and worked as a trainer, aerobics instructor and yoga teacher at various gyms, private homes and corporate facilities in Westchester County—she has battled a weak immune system her whole life.

Her health problems followed her to California, where she moved in 2000 to teach spinning, yoga and personal training in fitness clubs and yoga studios, on the beach and in private homes.

“Out West, I worked with various nutritionists, holistic professionals, shamans and Native Americans, which enhanced my practice as a teacher and reiki practitioner,” she says. “During that time I was appointed shaman in the Huichol Indian tribe of Mexico.”

In her free time she was doing detective work, trying pinpoint the cause of all the ups and downs with her health. As it turns out, the culprits were hiding in plain sight: they were her various soaps, lotions, cosmetics and other topical products.

“Little did I know that all the toxic chemicals that we put on our skin could be causing such an upset,” Shaw says. “I literally had high levels of mercury floating around my blood. I couldn’t even wear perfume or scented body lotion.”

She realized that she not only had to keep her body clean and healthy on the inside, but also had to pay attention to what she was putting on the outside. “The human body is smart,” she says, “but it does not necessarily know what to do with the chemical compounds manufacturers have been adding to their products over the past several decades. Some of those chemical compounds can irritate and inflame your tissues, causing unwanted strain to your organs and immune system. After long-term use, they can also affect your brain and nervous system.”

So she began making her own products, taking classes in aromatherapy and soap making. “I researched all the chemicals in my personal-care products. I started making sea-salt body scrubs, aromatherapy sprays and soaps. What a difference in my skin and health! I gave out samples as gifts, and everyone loved them.”

In 2008, Shaw returned to New York, settling in Cortlandt Manor, where she still teaches yoga, personal training and reiki. Although she’s stayed busy running private and group sessions in her home or her clients’ homes, teaching yoga at Retro Fitness in Cortlandt Manor and at the Putnam Valley library, she continued making her personal-care products on the side.

“And then it started,” she said. “I decided it was time to share what I’d learned and created on the West Coast and bring it to the East.”

The products she initially developed for her own use—products now available from her online store—are simply formulated without alcohol, dyes, parabens, artificial fragrances or phthalates. Instead they include natural ingredients like high-grade essential oils, Dead Sea mineral salts and wild-crafted oils, which have healing and rejuvenating properties, she says.

Nowadays Shaw rarely wears makeup, and she encourages other women to do themselves the same favor. “We should take a break from putting chemical compounds on our skin every day and use naturally occurring ingredients to bring out the natural beauty that exists in all of us,” she says.

For more information about BodySculpt by Karen Essential Products, call 914.522.1297 or visit