We stole Tony Dovolani off the dance floor for a little Q&A about the super cool world that is ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Not only
does did he have the uber fabulous job of being Betsey Johnson’s dance partner, but he also serves as the show’s dance and health expert. Portion control, his personal fitness regimen, and his personal secret to health were all up for grabs. Even cooler than that, he has a lot to say about how the sassy 72-year-old fashion icon got herself in what might be the best shape of her life. Despite what the judges may think — he scores perfect 10s with us!
Q: Congratulations on your success this season with Betsey Johnson, we were all sad to see you go!
A: Thank you! I feel like we were just hitting our stride. She was really improving and our journey was cut short. At least we ended on a high note and left people wanting more!
Q: What stood out to you this season as a dancer and wellness expert?
A: Betsey was a great example for me to show what I’m capable of: making them healthy and changing their life. She could do a cartwheel and splits when she came in, but would be out of breath right after. I was able to work with her on her diet and fitness to help her improve.
Q: DWTS seems to be one of the most beneficial weight loss methods for celebrities. Why do you think that is?
A: The #1 reason is because the body stays active. Dancing involves every single muscle in your body. When you start exercising that much, nutrition naturally falls into place. Your body starts asking for healthier things. You can’t dance when you over eat. It forces you to have a healthy life.
Q: What was your regimen like with Betsey?
A: I helped change her diet to eating a lot healthier. Dinner we would cut out pasta, soda, eat a lot of greens, and limit her to one coffee per day. She started eating every 3-4 hours instead of one big meal in the morning and late in the evening.
On top of that, I gave her a 15-20 minute complete body workout before rehearsal with no weights, and her strength got better each week to really completely transform her. Then rehearsals were for about 6-7 hours per day.
Q: How can people replicate these results at home? What can we do without spending 7 hours in the studio with a fitness coach?
A: Start small! People think they have to go to the gym and spend two hours lifting heavy weights. This will overwork your system. Get up in the morning, do 20 pushups and 20 sit-ups. In the afternoon and evening do the same thing. Just keep your muscles going every single day. As you get stronger, increase that. If you’re sitting all day at work and have 10 minutes, doing a few exercises is not a big thing. Plus, you’ll start thinking clearer, stay more alert, and boost your energy. It’s not just for your body, but for your mind.
Q: You’ve always been a dancer, but when did fitness and health get added into your interests and expertise?
A: Once I started getting older! When I was competing professionally, I was dancing 10-12 hours per day. I wasn’t eating healthy. As I hit 30, I realized I needed to eat like a champion if I wanted to become one. I won my first championship when I was 32.
Q: What a great motto: Eat like a champion, if you want to become one! What does that mean to you?
A: It all depends on how active you are. You have to eat to be at high performance level at the right time. I’m not a believer of “cut out this, cut out that.” That causes your body to go into starvation mode. Be smart. Prepare your body for what you’re coming up on that day. If it’s a performance day, it’s OK to have a small bowl of pasta to keep my energy up through the night. If it’s a day off, I’ll have one egg in the morning instead of three, have a smaller dinner, that kind of thing. It’s about portion control.
Q: How do you approach portion control?
A: Think about it: If you have a 300 mile trip, you can’t just fill it up 1/4 tank. You need a full tank to complete the trip. The same thing for food. If you have a long, highly active day, you need to eat accordingly so you have the fuel to get through. Similarly, if you work at an office and don’t move too much, you need to tailor your portions to your day.
Q: How do you help your dance partners and students change their eating habits?
A: Change your shopping list. If you’re craving starch, but it’s not in your fridge, guess what? You’re not eating it. If you don’t have soda at home, you have no way to drink it. Create a healthy list, keep your head down, don’t look left or right! Don’t even go down the chip or chocolate aisle! Don’t let your old habits get the best of you.
Q: What do you say to people who want to get healthy?
A: Stop dreaming about a healthier life. Start doing it. All it takes is the first step. Make a decision and go after it.
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images via ABC and HollywoodTake.com