How Does ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Pair Celebrities With Pro Dancers?

There are plenty of behind-the-scenes secrets that every fan would love to know about Dancing with the Stars. But one aspect of the show that just about everybody is curious about is the casting process. How do the producers choose which celebrities to cast? And how do they decide which contestant to pair with which professional dancer? It’s a pretty demanding process.

Ahead, discover everything we know about how Dancing with the Stars ends up with its celebrity-and-dancer pairs.

The producers consider height and weight

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Floating on cloud nine after #TeamFiresAndFlames’s Rumba. ☁️ #DWTS

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Showrunner Rob Wade told E! News that pairing celebrities and professional dancers is “based on height, build and personality and compatibility.” Similarly, fan-favorite pro dancer Mark Ballas explains that “They pair us on height and size, so it feels comfortable for the women and vice versa for the women when they’re dancing.” In many types of ballroom dance, a large height differential can prove problematic, as competitive dancer Deborah Peterson explains on Quora.

Putting the cast together is like ‘planning a dinner party’

Wade told People that putting the cast together for a season of Dancing with the Stars is similar to planning a party. “We obviously have a list of people that we begin to reach out to months in advance. We’ll get one or two people locked in and start to build around it,” he explains. “It’s like planning a dinner party. Once you’ve invited some friends, you start to work out which other friends to invite that will balance out the table.”

They don’t select pairs until after all the celebrities are cast

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People also learned that typically, the producers of Dancing with the Stars don’t start selecting pairs until after they’ve cast all the celebrities, often choosing contestants based on current events or picking celebrities who love the show and genuinely want to learn to dance. “Normally, we just have our pros and then once the cast is booked, we decide the pairings,” Wade explained. “I personally get bored with seeing the pros with the same types of people season after season. It is fun to tell a different type of story when you pair them with different people.”

Producers don’t want too much drama

Like any competition show, Dancing with the Stars wouldn’t be as compelling without a little bit of backstage drama. But the producers don’t want so much drama that it would just derail the show. “We don’t pair people who aren’t going to get on,” Wade told E! News. “It’s too intense. It’s not like The Bachelor or something; we couldn’t do that. That would just be miserable experience for the celebrity, for us and the viewer. You don’t want to see two people who don’t like each other and, quite frankly, we have made that mistake pairing people up who didn’t get on so well.”

The dancers don’t get to choose their partners

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Tissues ready! Most Memorable Year Night starts in 20 minutes. #DWTS

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Ballas told E! News that the dancers “don’t get a say in their partners.” However, producers do try to take the dancers’ personalities and teaching styles into account when they choose pairings. “Each one of the pro dancers has a different way of teaching, choreographing, and also just different personalities, as well as time-stamps on patience,” Ballas explains. “They kind of try to pair us accordingly.”

But producers try to give each pro a variety of contestants

E! News also learned that because some longtime Dancing with the Stars pros have become household names, the producers often try to pair them up with somebody who will bring out a side of them that the audience hasn’t seen before. And while the audience has noticed some trends — Tony Dovolani often gets older celebrities while Mark Ballas gets younger ones — Wade says that that’s not intentional. In fact, he explains that “every dancer gets a different range of type of people. . . and then they say they only get those people.”

Read more: These Are the Oldest ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Contestants Who Have Been on the Show Over the Years

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Another bizarre season of Dancing With the Stars is swiftly approaching its end — and when I say bizarre, I don’t just mean the “Sean Spicer is still on?!” kind of bizarre (though that is still very much a thing… well, until you get to the bottom of this recap, that is).

Rather, this Dancing cycle has also been missing a few themes that had previously become staples of the show. I can’t be the only one bummed that there was no Most Memorable Years Night this time around, right? And no Trio Night? Even when it’s given us dances like the Lindsay Arnold-Jordan Fisher-Corbin Bleu salsa that I still watch once a week? For shame.

That said, Monday’s quarterfinals — aka Boy Band and Girl Group Night — were still a lot of fun, and not just because guest judge Joey Fatone prompted a lot of “You guys were so in sync!” jokes. Let’s recap the evening’s routines:

James Van Der Beek and pro Emma Slater
Each couple performed two routines on Monday night, leading off with James and Emma’s jive. Right out of the gate, I was nervous; the arm-and-hand movements that kicked off this jive didn’t seem synchronized, and I thought James would remain ahead of the music for the entire number. Fortunately, his timing got back on track, and the rest of the routine was full of energy and packed with content — and a dance-ending split that left my thighs burning. Judges’ Score: 36/40

Later, James and Emma performed a jazz set to ‘N Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye,” which they had the daunting task of performing in front of Fatone. Full disclosure: Nine-year-old Rebecca (and present-day Rebecca, for that matter) was fully obsessed with all things ‘N Sync, so I had a stupidly high bar for James to clear with this performance. But his showing was impressive nonetheless, full of power and the right amount of sass. Judges’ Score: 36/40

Sean Spicer and pro Jenna Johnson
An Argentine tango was up first for Sean and Jenna — and as soon as I heard those two words, I was scared. The legwork in this style is typically so fast and intricate that I was sure Sean couldn’t handle it… until I remembered that he’d probably just be standing still while Jenna danced around him. And that’s essentially what happened! At this point, we pretty much know what we’re getting with Sean, and I can accept that. What I don’t understand is why the judges keep giving him sevens when we’ve seen virtually no improvement; his work ethic and positive attitude are surely commendable, but come on. The guy isn’t doing anywhere near what Hannah Brown and Lauren Alaina are doing, but his numbers are approaching theirs, and that seems… silly. Judges’ Score: 26/40

Next, Sean and Jenna danced a foxtrot, which was unfortunately not as smooth as it needed to be. But I appreciate that the judges’ paddles seemed to reflect the quality of the routine this time. Judges’ Score: 24/40

Hannah Brown and pro Alan Bersten
Hannah and Alan showed off a salsa first — and while I agree with the judges that their lifts weren’t out-of-this-world, I’d argue that Hannah is still attempting more intricate and ambitious lifts than any other female competitor, and that’s worthy of more praise. (Lauren gets a pass, though, because girl’s got fractured ribs.) Anyway, lifts aside, this number was fast-paced and precise, and the attitude that Hannah delivered in that opening sequence with the troupe was everything. Judges’ Score: 32/40

Their second routine was a tango, which was fabulously sultry — though Hannah must have whiplash after that number, right? Judges’ Score: 39/40

Lauren Alaina and pro Gleb Savchenko
First up was a quickstep for this pair, which was pleasant enough, but totally forgettable. And I love Lauren! But I truly remember nothing about this routine, except those giant hearts that the back-up dancers were holding, like something out of a fever dream. Judges’ Score: 34/40

Fortunately, Lauren and Gleb’s rumba made a much stronger impression. I do wish Lauren would relax into her movements a tiny bit more — she tends to get a little deer-in-the-headlights when she moves to a new section of the dance — but on the whole, this routine was both heartfelt and sensual. Judges’ Score: 36/40

Kel Mitchell and pro Witney Carson
Kel and Witney started with a paso doble, which proved that Kel can hold his own, even without Witney next to him. That stepping section! Those knee slides! Witney careening toward the stairs (which sounds scarier than it was)! Len was disgruntled by the lack of true paso doble content, but the routine was fierce and fun nonetheless. Judges’ Score: 34/40

Next up was a Viennese waltz, which could have been an ice skating routine, it was so smooth. (I’m a sucker for a Boyz II Men soundtrack, too.) Judges’ Score: 40/40

Ally Brooke and pro Sasha Farber
Both of Ally and Sasha’s routines (a samba and a jazz) earned perfect scores — and don’t get me wrong, they’ve been very, very good all season long. But given how harshly the judges have criticized contestants like Hannah and Lauren, I’m surprised they didn’t have a single critique for this pair; some of Ally’s movements were on the sloppy side, including the final eight-count of her jazz, which didn’t quite land on the beat. Judges’ Scores: 40/40 and… 40/40

And now, the results:

Ally Brooke and pro Sasha Farber
Kel Mitchell and pro Witney Carson
James Van Der Beek and pro Emma Slater
Hannah Brown and pro Alan Bersten

Lauren Alaina and pro Gleb Savchenko
Sean Spicer and pro Jenna Johnson

Sean Spicer and pro Jenna Johnson

OK, your turn! Do you agree with Sean and Jenna’s elimination? (I think I know the answer!) Drop a comment below with your reactions.

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‘GMA’ Workout Wednesday With Julianne Hough

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Dance Workout Routines with Julianne Hough

Two-time Dancing With the Stars champ Julianne Hough shares her dance workout routines and more with Shape readers.

Julianne may have been booted off the popular show early this season-thanks to her two-left-feet partner, Adam Carolla-but the 20-year-old has no plans to slow down her white-hot career. “I’ve always wanted to sing,” says Julianne, who’s touring this summer to promote her newly released, self-titled debut country CD.

Two-time Dancing With the Stars champ Julianne Hough shares her dance workout routines and more with Shape readers.

Julianne may have been booted off the popular show early this season-thanks to her two-left-feet partner, Adam Carolla-but the 20-year-old has no plans to slow down her white-hot career. “I’ve always wanted to sing,” says Julianne, who’s touring this summer to promote her newly released, self-titled debut country CD. “The opportunity to dance just came first.”

Performing since she was 6, Julianne became the youngest female world champion in Latin dance when she was 13, and two years ago she began appearing on Dancing With the Stars. But it wasn’t until one of the show’s producers heard her sing that her voice got the same attention as her footwork and she got a recording contract.

Now that she’s off the show, Julianne hits the gym near her home for fitness workouts four or five times a week.

“I’m not a morning person,” she says, “but I prefer to work out early because it gives me an energy boost for the rest of the day.” She starts with half an hour on either the treadmill, the elliptical, or the stationary bike, then does sculpting moves with free weights.

As a dancer, Julianne has come up with a few of her own creative dance exercise moves to keep things interesting.

“I don’t like using the weight machines because they don’t allow me the freedom to move around,” she says. “With free weights I can do little twists and turns and almost choreograph my workouts. That’s more fun for me, and the time goes by faster.”

“There are certain areas of the body that dancing won’t tone, so I still stretch and do crunches, lunges, and arm moves just about every day,” says Dancing With the Stars’ Julianne Hough. She maintains her sculpting plan off-season too, when she runs for 30 to 45 minutes on most days. We asked Julianne to show us the 15-minute fitness workouts she does to supplement her dancing.

Do Julianne’s workout routines with dance exercise moves twice a week.

You’ll notice your legs firming up, your arms becoming more defined, and your muscles getting more limber. You just may be inspired to sign up for dance lessons-and you’ll have the body for it!

Julianne Hough Workout Routine

BONUS: Download the FREE Julianne Hough Workout Routine PDF

Hell yeah that says she was in Harry Potter.

Oh, you didn’t know?

Well, maybe you should. Just kidding. Kind of…

(And I guess this means for those of you who don’t believe me, we’ll have to include some picture evidence later).

But let’s not get too far off track. Julianne Hough is pretty incredible – and not just because she’s absolutely stunning.

She’s most famously known for being a dancer and judge on Dancing With The Stars, but she’s also been in Grease Live, Footloose, and other roles.

I have a feeling dancing might be a part of this routine…

Julianne Hough Stats:

Height: 5’3

Weight: (approximate) 119 lbs.

Age: 29 years old

Hough stands in as one of the shorter women we’ve seen at SHJ (although she’s not alone in that area), right there with ladies like Scarlett Johansson, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Munn and Natalie Portman who are also under that average 5’5-5’6 range.

The average includes tons of women, such as Jennifer Aniston, Katie Cassidy, Katheryn Winnick, Margot Robbie, Caity Lotz, and the list goes on and on.

And then of course we have our SHJ ladies who come in on the taller side like Gal Gadot, Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, Zendaya, Rihanna, and a few others.

But, don’t let this turn you away from any routine.

I make every workout and diet plan to be utilized for any shape or size!

Julianne Hough Diet and Nutrition

Yeah. I told you.

There she is…living it up with Ron, Dean Thomas and the rest of the Gryffindors.

But okay okay, back to the point here.

People Magazine gives us some pretty great info on Hough’s diet and nutrition here:

“I try to cut myself some slack if I’m being consistent with my nutrition and activity,” Hough says. “If I am craving a piece of chocolate I go for something dark to satisfy the craving.”

When it comes to exercise, she says “just try to move your body everyday” and don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a workout.

I love that.

Cutting slack, or allowing yourself to reload are definitely keys to the sustainability we shoot for at SHJ.

All of our Nutrition Classes (Samurai, Monk, Viking, Hunter Gatherer, Spartan, Minimalist) in The Academy revolve around sustainability, and it’s for a reason.

Oh, but People Magazine gives us even more juicy deets.

Here’s a day’s plan of Hough’s eating (or a model that is similar to what an average day might be like):


4-6 glasses of water a day

Pre-workout (before breakfast)

Green juice with 1 cucumber, spinach, kale, pear, celery, carrot, green apple, ginger, lemon, and beets


Two steamed eggs over easy, with sliced avocado and sliced tomato

1 cup of English Breakfast Tea with skim milk and Stevia in the Raw


Apple Pie smoothie from trainer Harley Pasternak: 5 raw almonds, 1 red apple, 1 small frozen banana, 6 oz. fat free plain Greek yogurt, ½ cup almond milk, ½ tsp ground cinnamon


1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, over mixed green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, hearts of palm, almonds, edamame, banana peppers, and olive oil and squeezed lemon


1 orange


6 oz. salmon baked with sliced lemon and rosemary, with olive oil and 2 cups sautéed spinach sprinkled with pink salt

LaCroix seltzer


4 dark chocolate covered almonds

Total Calories:


Which People Magazine finishes with:

The Verdict:

With water, seltzer or tea at every meal and green juice before her workout, Julianne “does a great job staying hydrated,” says Atlanta-based dietitian Marisa Moore. Hough also includes enough protein in each meal to build and maintain lean muscle mass. But, adds Moore, “if she’s doing an intense workout, she might consider adding a banana or another carb to help replenish her energy.”

If that’s not some awesome details, I don’t know what is!

Julianne Hough Workout Routine Research

Julianne Hough’s workout routine is something that is widely searched, and there’s a ton of information out there about it.

So, we’re going to do our best to compile it all and turn it into one regime that we can use (like always, duh)!

Starting with Elle Magazine who gives us the quote from Hough:

“I usually try five times a week…I love to start my day off with a workout. It doesn’t have to be high-exertion, two hours, let’s go. But anything that gets me up and going. Sometimes it’s an hour and a half, sometimes it’s an hour, sometimes it’s 45 minutes, just depends how I’m feeling on that day.”

I really like that she states “just depends on how I’m feeling on that day”. I try to teach the members of The Academy that I work with to implement this into their training.

Some days you might have it, and some days you might not.

I could go to the gym today and deadlift 500 and then next week 350-400 lbs will be heavy and I just won’t have it in me.

It happens! also gives us some great quotes from Hough as well, starting with:

“My whole thing is, I’m not doing it necessarily to make my body look good—I’m doing it because I love it and it’s fun,” Hough tells SELF. “I feel way better when I’m working out. Once I’ve taken care of myself I can be happy and joyful and do things at my top ability, and I feel like I can give the best version of myself .”

Which she continues with:

“A lot of people are like, ‘man, you’re so busy, how do you fit it in?’ But that’s my key thing: I don’t ‘fit’ it in, I schedule it in,” she says. For Hough, the morning is the time to get it done. “It sets the tone for the day for the rest of the day,” she says. “But I would not say that I’m a morning person, though. It takes everything that I have to get out of bed.”

And, in that interview she talks about how active of a person she is.

She could do a dance class one day, and then the next a Crossfit inspired beach workout, and then a trampoline fun activity day!

It varies, but she stays active and loves it!

Quite possibly the best resource I found was coming straight from the source at Julianne’s own website.

Here’s a couple incredible quotes from one of her Fitness Q&As that I found particularly important:

  1. What do you find to be the most effective ab exercise? — Rachel M. on Facebook
    I love them all! I find that mixing up my moves is what’s most effective. I like to lay on a box during leg raises, so I can really use my lower abs with each movement. I also love standing exercises for abs where I can really isolate my torso. I sometimes add hand weights to these moves in order to work my obliques too. Both are effective!
  2. How do you stay on track with eating healthy on the weekends? — @pattilli7 on Instagram
    Everything in moderation! I also like to say I’m committing to having a healthy lifestyle rather than using the phrase “dieting.”
  3. How do you stay motivated? What do you binge on? — @michele_stuurman on Instagram
    I stay motivated because I find that I actually FEEL better when I’m putting healthy, yummy food into my body. When I binge, I definitely go straight for the pizza and pasta!
  4. How do you find time to workout with a busy schedule and travel? — @cegrey on Instagram
    I make it a part of my schedule! A lot of people schedule their day and never put their workout in there, but that’s my first priority. I prefer to workout early in the morning because it not only energizes me for the day, but I find that’s the best time to do it before the busy day begins.
  5. What are your daily morning routines, that you feel set you up for having a healthy and positive day? — @mfannin34 on Instagram
    The first thing I do when I wake up is think of 5 things I’m grateful for, which immediately sets my tone for the day. I then snuggle Lexi and Harley for a good 10 minutes, have a healthy breakfast, and head straight to my workout.
  6. What types of cardio do you do?? Asked by @hollyanne_33 on Instagram
    I’ll take a dance cardio class at studios like Body By Simone and Tracy Anderson and take David Zint’s class at Soul Cycle!

How awesome is this?!

I mean, we have MORE than enough content to plan your routine’s out.

And, I’m stoked.

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Last Chance: Download the FREE Julianne Hough Workout Routine PDF
Training Volume:
5 days per week
Julianne explains that she tries to workout at least 5 days per week. She makes it part of her routine. I’m going to be programming you five days of workouts that can be utilized day by day, or mixed and matched. The point is to get active and have fun!

Workout One: Dance Class

You had to know this was coming first… It’s Julianne Hough…

Julianne states:

“I’ll take a dance cardio class at studios like Body By Simone and Tracy Anderson”

You dance class doesn’t have to be at these studios, and it could even be from a tape, but devote this day to dancing!

Have fun with it.

Workout Two: Tracy Anderson (her trainer) Inspired Workout

Warm Up:


800m jog


Pull Ups (assisted is fine)


Air Squats


Knee Ups (or Push Ups)


3 Round Circuit:

20 Jumping Jacks

15 V-Ups

10 Jump Squats

5 Burpees

Workout Three: Soul Cycle

In that same quote I mentioned earlier for the dance class Julianne finishes with:

“and take David Zint’s class at Soul Cycle!”

So this is your Soul Cycle day.

It doesn’t have to be specifically at David Zint’s, or even at Soul Cycle, but hop on a bike either outside or at the gym and get some intense, fun cardio in!

Workout Four: Tracy Anderson (her trainer) Inspired Workout

Warm Up:


800m jog


Air Squats


Mountain Climbers


Side Planks

3×30 seconds (each side)

Butt Lifts (on hands and knees, raise leg bent up behind you)

3×25 (each side)

Light Military Press


Weighted Lunges

3×10 (each leg)


3×60 seconds

Workout Five: Random Fun Activity Day

I mentioned earlier that Julianne is extremely active.

And, that means if you want her physique and you want to train like her…you’re going to be too…right?

So devote this day to some fun activity.

That could be tennis, trampoline cardio, hot yoga, hiking..or really anything that gets you active and having fun!

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  • Julianne Hough is the cover star of the Women’s Health Naked Strength issue and appears on five different covers of the magazine’s September issue.
  • She’s danced throughout her life, but she also does CorePower Yoga, SoulCycle, and strength training in her weekly workouts.
  • Julianne also drinks a homemade smoothie filled with healthy fats after her workouts.

The second I saw Julianne Hough on the cover of Women’s Health’s Naked Strength issue, I had to know: What is she doing to get that strong, beautiful body?

The Dancing With The Stars vet and America’s Got Talent judge definitely makes eating well and staying active a priority: She says she exercises five days a week in the mornings—even though she’s not a morning person.

One of her go-to boutique fitness workout of choice? SoulCycle. “I love being around people and community,” she says. Julianne also practices yoga, and her favorite type of yoga class is hot power fusion at CorePower Yoga. She also makes sure to strength train regularly—something her husband, hockey player Brooks Laich, joins her for.

Pre-workout, Julianne says she downs a concoction of lukewarm water, lemon, celery juice, a green superfood drink, apple cider vinegar, and an adrenal supplement. “If I eat something before I work out that’s more of substance, it doesn’t work for me,” she said.

Then, after she’s done sweating, Julianne says she grabs a shake packed with healthy fats. Her go-to ingredients include avocado, almond butter, almond milk, spinach, protein powder, blueberries, and a banana.

Oh, and food rules? Julianne says she generally doesn’t do them—except for one: Avoid foods that cause inflammation. “I’ll try anything,” she says. That leaves a lot of room for delicious eats.

“I love tacos and guacamole,” she said. “I love food!”

Julianne also says if she’s craving pasta or pizza, she’ll eat it—but generally sticks to grilled chicken or salmon with steamed or grilled veggies for dinner. After dinner, she likes a little something sweet, so she keeps dark chocolate in the freezer and helps herself to a piece.

Julianne does drink alcohol—and she says she switched to gin- or tequila-based drinks recently. “I used to be a really big wine drinker just because I loved it,” she says. “I loved the experience…but it really makes me not feel good.” She’ll drink it straight, with soda water, or with fruits.

Read more about Julianne’s body positivity, her new workout method, Kinrgy, and the revelation that surprised even her husband in the September issue of Women’s Health.

Jennifer Nied Jennifer Nied is a contributing writer for Women’s Health with more than 10 years of writing and editing experience, specializing in wellness, adventure travel, and fitness, with work appearing in Budget Travel, American Spa, Women’s Health, and more.

Get Loose with Julianne Hough’s Footloose-Inspired Workout

Just one look at Julianne Hough and it’s clear that dancing does a body good! Currently, the gorgeous dancer-turned-singer-turned-actress is gettin’ loose on the big screen, starring in the new Footloose remake out tomorrow.

To get her ready for the role, Footloose choreographer Jamal Sims worked with Hough eight hours a day, five days a week for four weeks. It didn’t take long for Sims to see how dedicated the sexy starlet was on – and off – the dance floor.

“Julianne is a fighter. She even went to the gym before our intense rehearsals,” Sims says. “She is such a hard worker and really pushes through the pain. Sometimes I would cut rehearsal short because I didn’t want her to over do it.”

Hough is known to supplement her intense dance training with workouts on the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike, along with sculpting moves and free weights.

“She also did a lot of core work, which is very important for dancing. Using a resistance ball to train is great because you really need that core strength,” Sims advises.

Why is dancing such a great workout? “You’re using all your muscles…muscles you didn’t even know you had,” Sims laughs. “And you’re having so much fun doing it that you don’t even realize why your butt is so sore the next morning!”

Endurance training is also important for dancers like Hough to be able to withstand practicing sequences multiple times. But before you bust a move on any dance floor, just remember to stretch. “Stretching is above all the most important. Hamstring stretches are highly recommended,” Sims advises.

Here are a few dance-inspired workouts so you can (cue music) get loose, footloose and kick off those Sunday shoes – just like Hough!

Hip-Hop: Sims spiced up the new Footloose with a little juking, a little booty shakin’ and a whole lotta hip-hop. This form of dance works multiple muscle groups and is wonderful for fighting fat. While we may not all be experts like Sims and Hough, it’s fun to at least try to bring out our inner Beyonce every once in awhile.

Zumba: This popular, new style of dance fitness is a spicy alternative to a typical aerobics class. Combining Latin rhythms and movement with resistance training, the workout can burn upwards of 500 calories per hour – depending on how fast you can sashay those hips in true Hough style.

Pole Dancing: This is one sexy workout that would make both Kenny Wormald and Kevin Bacon proud! While it probably isn’t something to which we’d want to bring our kids, pole dancing classes or “striptease” workouts are a great way to tone your butt, thighs, abs, and arms, along with rocking your upper body strength.

Cardio Ballroom: Who better to teach us ballroom dancing than expert Julianne Hough herself? The talented star launched a series of dance-inspired workout DVDs, available on Easy to follow and infectiously fun, you don’t have to be a professional to enjoy this results-oriented workout.

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Kristen Aldridge lends her pop culture expertise to Yahoo! as host of “omg! NOW.” Receiving millions of hits per day, the hugely popular daily entertainment news program is one of the most-watched on the web. As a seasoned entertainment journalist, pop culture expert, fashion addict and lover of all things creative, she is founder of and recently launched her own celeb-inspired fashion line and smartphone app. Connect with Kristen to talk all things celebrity via Twitter and Facebook, or visit her official website at

  • By Kristen Aldridge

Dancing With the Stars pro Jenna Johnson-Chmerkovskiy has been absolutely crushing it on the ballroom competition show for more than five years — she earned a coveted Mirrorball trophy after just two seasons as a pro, after all. And although Johnson surely gets a cardio fix from her daily four hour rehearsals with her current celebrity partner, Queer Eye star Karamo Brown, the 25-year-old dancer says she still loves to hit the gym throughout the DWTS season to keep in tune with her body.

“Going to the gym is really important to me during the season, and not so much so ‘Oh I need to get my cardio in,’ but more of just a mental check and awareness of my body,” Johnson told Woman’s Day.

Because of her demanding schedule on DWTS — there are rehearsals, costume fittings, and camera blocking sessions — Johnson says she likes to keep things lighter at the gym, but still makes sure to get her heart rate up and her endorphins flowing. The gym is her “happy place,” she says, and it helps her stay focused throughout the week.

When asked what her go-to exercise at the gym is, Johnson says, with a laugh, that she usually opts to set the treadmill on a high incline and go for a nice long walk.

“I laugh because when I was going out I would see those ladies that would, like, speedily be walking down the street with their arms swinging wide and I would always make fun of them, and now that is totally me at the gym,” she said. “It’s great because it’s low impact so it’s not hurting your knees like running will. It’s just great and I get to turn on a show that I want to get caught up on an I just watch it and it’s the best!”

While walking on a treadmill may seem easy, the dancer says that it’s an amazing total body workout.

“It engages your whole body because you’re on that incline,” she said. “It engages your glutes, your legs, as well as your abs, so I love it.”

The Utah-native has also shared some of her favorite full-body toning exercises on her Instagram page, which includes plenty of bicep curls, crunches, and squats to keep her strong throughout the competition.

View this post on Instagram

Good Morning ☀️ Lets get SWEATY!! Sharing some of my favorite “Go-To” exercises at the gym! . Who’s gonna do them with me 🙋🏻‍♀️ . #fitness #fitspo #health #letsgetsweaty

A post shared by Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy (@jennajohnson) on Aug 10, 2019 at 10:51am PDT

Johnson added that, in addition to keeping up with the gym, she makes sure to take plenty of vitamins and probiotics, and gets a good night’s rest, to keep her body as healthy as possible.

“I tend to get really sick during the season because my body’s just exhausted, and I’m constantly sweating and working,” she said. “I’m the type of person that cannot survive if I have a lack of sleep. I just turn into an angry monster so I have to be pretty consistent about getting a good night’s rest and, you know, even if that means saying no to a dinner date or going out somewhere.”

You can watch Jenna performing on Dancing With the Stars Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Laura Hanrahan Laura is a NYC-based freelance writer.

17 Weight Loss Tips from Dancing With the Stars

As a young woman who makes healthy eating and fitness a priority, I was surprised to discover just how envious I was of a 40-year-old woman’s’ lean legs and toned stomach. Dancing With the Stars was on TV and Kym Johnson—who’s now married to Shark Tank mogul, Robert Herjavec—was wearing a sequined bra and a tiny feathered skirt looking better than basically everyone I know that’s half her age. And despite the fact that I spend the majority of my day researching and writing about nutrition and weight loss, I found myself wondering, “What’s her secret!?”

Sure, she spins around for hours, perfecting each step of her expertly choreographed dances, but that’s only during the television season. She somehow manages to maintain her perfectly toned muscles year-round so she must have some other tricks up her sleeve. I just wasn’t sure what they were. She isn’t the only one from the show with an envy-worthy figure, either. All of the “pros” are in tip-top shape and many of the “stars” who have competed on the show have made headlines for dropping weight while competing—and keeping it off long after the cameras stopped rolling. Kelly Osbourne, arguably the most famous of the lot, has lost an impressive 70 pounds thanks to her stint on the show!

Intrigued? So was I. So I dug deep to uncover the show’s best-ever slim down secrets. Keep reading to find out how Kelly, Kym, and a host of other hot-bod celebs from Dancing With the Stars stay slim on and off the camera—and how their simple tricks can help you trim down, too. And while you’ve got celeb weight loss strategies on the brain, don’t miss these 26 Breakfasts Celebrities Love to start your day off right and jump-start your flat belly progress.


Prepare to Snack

Professional dancer Karina Smirnoff knows that staying fit and healthy is all about being prepared. And that’s why she always preps and packs healthy snacks. “A couple times per week, I make a batch of trail mix using Nature Valley Protein Granola as my base. I then add sliced almonds or another yummy nut, chocolate chips or chunks, dried cranberries, and often blueberries too,” the 38-year-old pro said in an interview. “It’s a nutritious and filling snack that gives me the boost I need throughout the day. I put into little baggies and throw them into my purse. It’s easy and delicious.” For more healthy snack ideas, don’t miss these 50 Snacks With 50 Calories or Less!


Work Every Muscle— Not Just the Sexy Ones

General Hospital actress, Tia Carrere was the first Dancing With the Stars celeb to depart from the show with a noticeable body transformation. That was back in 2006, just two months after giving birth to her daughter, Bianca. She credited the total-body aspects of her dance workout for her slim-down success. “The waltz works different muscles from the rumba, which works different muscles from the cha-cha, so you’re getting a whole-body thing,” Carrere said in an interview. And even if you’re not dancing your way skinny, there’s something to be learned from Carrere’s weight loss experience: it’s super important to work all of your muscles—not just the ones’ you want to show off at the beach. Not only will hitting all your muscles evenly, help keep you injury free, it will amp up your calorie burn and weight loss potential, too. Don’t believe it? Lose Up to 16 Pounds With This Full-Body Workout!


Sign Up for a Fitness Event

Carrere’s partner, Maks Chmerkovskiy AKA “The Bad Boy of the Ballroom,” is known for his bold moves, competitive nature, and muscular physique. That said, it’s no surprise that he suggests tapping into your competitive nature to get and stay fit. “For most people, it’s not enough to just say, ‘I want to lose 60 pounds.’ There has to be a bigger reason and that reason is competition. If you are signed up for a race, you’ll do anything to try to get the upper hand,” says Chmerkovskiy. “That means you probably won’t just train; you’ll do the nutrition part, too. It all works together organically.” To find a race in your area that will help you stay committed to your fitness program, check out our special report, The Best 5K in Every State!


Stop When You’re Full

Julianne Hough, DWTS dancer-turned-judge, maintains her figure by eating five small meals throughout the day and cutting herself off when she’s full. She doesn’t restrict herself entirely, though. “If I want to have dessert, I’ll have it,” she says. These tricks all help to ward off overeating, so we give them our ETNT stamp of approval! “Occasionally including dessert can aid weight loss efforts by warding off feelings of deprivation and bouts of overeating,” explains dietitian Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. “It can make it easier to stick with your healthy eating regimen for the long haul.” For more ways to lose weight—and keep it off, try these 20 Ways to Lose Weight Forever.


Cut Carbs After Dark

Aside from working her core at the gym, Johnson limits her her carbs to the daytime hours to keep her stomach firm and flat. “I love fries and bread, but I see a real difference in my body when I don’t eat them after 5 p.m.” Looking for more ways to eat bread and lose weight, too? Stock up on these 25 Best Carbs That Will Uncover Your Abs.


Buy a Blender

Smirnoff, a self-proclaimed smoothie fan, is a girl after our own hearts. Why are we such big fans of sipping our nutrition through a straw? Because if you have 30-seconds to spare and know how to push a simple button, you can create a meal that will turn your body into a hyper-efficient fat-burning machine. Smirnoff whips up her drinks with frozen fruit, like cranberries or blueberries, which both pair wonderfully with healthy drink staples like vegan protein powder, almond milk, and kale. For more than 150 delicious ways to sip your way slim, pick up a copy of Zero Belly Smoothies!


Make Fitness Fun

Last year, top-ranking UFC fighter and DWTS season 22 runner-up Paige VanZant shared her top slim down secrets with Eat This, Not that! The one tip that stood out above the rest? Make fitness fun! It may sound cliché, but it’s actually a vital key to long-term health and fitness. And that’s because if your exercise regimen isn’t fun or enjoyable, the odds that you’ll stick with it are pretty darn low. “To keep things interesting, find a fun kickboxing class or another workout or class you enjoy, suggests VanZant. “Whether it’s a weight lifting by yourself or a weekly Zumba class with your friend, it doesn’t matter. Just find something you like that keeps you active.” For more of VanZant’s sage wisdom, check out these 15 Hot Body Tips from Paige Vanzant!


Have a Go-To Healthy Order

Emmy Nominated dancer and choreographer, Chelsie Hightower, appeared for seven seasons on DWTS—so it should be no surprise that she’s quite accustomed to staying healthy on the go. Filming and practicing is super time consuming! When she’s out of town or in a situation where dining out is her only option, she’ll typically order a salad with chicken. “You can get that anyplace, including fast-food restaurants,” she explains in a Fitness interview, adding, “And I always carry almonds and red seedless grapes with me for snacking.” For more healthy restaurant orders, check out our special report, 35 Tips to Eat Healthy at Restaurants.


Up Protein, Slash Sugar

Though Hough has appeared on countless fitness magazine covers wearing everything from sport bras to bikinis, that doesn’t mean she’s never struggled with her weight. When she stopped dancing and started filming “Burlesque” she gained 20 pounds. “I never prioritized time to work out, and I still ate whatever I wanted. That’s the most I’ve ever weighed in my entire life,” the 28-year-old told Self. And she didn’t love how the extra pounds made her feel. “I really to get back to…how I know I feel the best,” she explains. To lose weight, she focused on increasing her protein intake and drastically cut back on the amount of added sugar (which can lurk everywhere from ketchup and tomato sauce to healthy looking cereals and snack bars) and gluten she allowed into her diet.


Mix Things Up

After 19 consecutive seasons, Mark Ballas is taking some time away from Dancing With the Stars to play Frankie Valli in the last few months of Jersey Boys’ Broadway run. Though his day-to-day has changed, Ballas stays fit by mixing up his fitness routine and tailing it to his complement his work schedule. “If I dance in the morning, I won’t do cardio when I go to the gym because dancing for four to five hours gets you pretty warm! Usually, we do a lot of TRX and core work and weightlifting, too,” he says of his weekly workouts. By varying his routine, he keeps his muscles guessing—and growing.

RELATED: 30 Most Effective 30-Second Workout Move


Seek Out Scenery

Let’s be honest; going to the gym can be a total drag. Even if you belong to one of the swankier ones, there’s something about staring at the wall while you’re picking up heavy things and putting them down that’s a bit “blah.” To mix things up a bit so you don’t fall off the fitness bandwagon altogether, VanZant suggests breaking a sweat somewhere outside with Instagram-worthy scenery. “Go on walks or hikes somewhere with pretty scenery or find a place that’s peaceful where you can enjoy being active in the environment,” VanZant tells us. “When you surround yourself with sights you enjoy, it distracts from the fact that you’re working out.” For more fun and creative ways to blast away calories outside the gym, check out these 19 Ways to Burn 100 Calories Without a Gym.


Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

After shedding 20 pounds during her stint on DWTS, Kelly Osbourne, who voices Hildy on the Disney Channels’ animated show The 7D, lost an additional 50 pounds! Though she’s far more confident with her body now than she ever was before, she still has bad days like everyone else. To power through those moments, she remembers her personal mantra: Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. “It’s okay to have a healthy envy and look up to somebody and set goals, but you have to realize that you’re never going to be exactly that person. Wishing you were Angelina Jolie or J.Lo isn’t going to change the fact that you’re not,” she told Self. “The only thing I can be is me. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. And my body is not perfect, either, but I love it.” For more mantras that can help keep you motivated, check out our special report, 25 Weight Loss Mantras Nutritionists Swear By.


Follow the 5-6-7-8 Rule

In her new book, The 5-6-7-8 Diet, Johnson details the diet that’s helping her maintain her strong and svelte figure. The creative title plays homage to the dancer’s cue and also helps to explain Johnson’s daily diet which includes 5 servings of protein, 6 servings of fruits and vegetables, 7 servings of anti-inflammatory foods and 8 glasses of refreshing H20.


Healthify Your Favorites

Johnson’s book also includes tips for healthifying indulgences like pancakes! To make her grain-free morning treat, combine a mashed banana with two beaten eggs, in a bowl. Add a pinch of baking powder and cinnamon, and thoroughly mix the ingredients. Next, grease a frying pan with coconut oil and pour the batter into the pan to form pancakes. Cook until bubbles form on the surface and the bottom begins to brown. Flip the pancakes and cook for another minute and serve with maple syrup. If those healthy flapjacks sound too good to be true, don’t miss these 14 Healthy Breakfast Recipes that Taste Like They Should Be Unhealthy. There are so many ways to eat what you love and slim down, too!


Treat Yo Self

Another way VanZant stays on track with a healthy diet? She eats dessert. Yup, you read that correctly, cookies, cakes, the works! But she doesn’t go overboard with the stuff. “Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or just want to stay fit and healthy, I think it’s important to treat yourself in moderation,” VanZant tells us. “If I deprive myself of good treats then I’m not happy, and when I’m not happy it’s hard to stay positive. When I allow myself sweets in small amounts, it also prevents binge eating, which makes me feel sick afterward.” To eat your cake and lose weight, too, stock up on these 20 Healthy Desserts for Weight Loss.


If It’s Man-Made, Skip It

“If it’s man-made, don’t eat it” advises Chmerkovskiy, who eats a diet of grass-fed meats and organic, GMO-free fruits and vegetables. “Processed foods are an addiction, and when you’re hooked on them, it’s hard to imagine quitting. But once you do, you won’t want to go back. You’ll quickly see that this is what the body wants and needs,” he explains. “And you don’t have to live on lettuce like a rabbit—there are so many fresh, natural, delicious foods out there that you’ll never feel bored or deprived.”

RELATED: 20 Benefits of Ditching Processed Foods


Enlist Your Buddies

Now that Osbourne is simply working out and eating right to maintain her weight loss, she stays motivated and on track by incorporating the people she loves spending time with into her fitness routine. “My girlfriends and I just started doing plyometrics,” she said in an interview. “It’s a killer—it hurts so much. But when you walk out of there, you’re like, ‘I can’t believe I just did that and my body looks this good.”

Get the New Book!

Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!

How to dance like dancing with the stars?

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