Dancing is meant to be good for you. So would you like me to list my injuries? My legs are dotted with bruises. Two of them are the size of a computer mouse. I can’t remember getting them, but they must have come from jumping into Kevin’s arms for the lifts in the American Smooth. I joked that our version would be slightly choppy – and while it looked silky on the dance floor, it was rough on my body.
I have a trapped nerve in my toe, which comes either from squeezing my feet into ballroom shoes, or from the nipping of the fishnet tights that we wear to give our legs shape and tone under our gowns.
My body has undergone other physical changes, too. I’ve lost more than half a stone, and parts of me that were fleshy seem to be disappearing – other parts remain fleshy, and it’s a shame I don’t have a choice which bits go and which stay. I have run marathons and half-marathons regularly, but I have never been in such good physical shape.
All the celebrity dancers are the same – we’re toning up and trimming down.
Our dance partners also have to be wary. I have moved my knees too quickly and too close to sensitive parts of Kevin’s body that he would rather protect. It’s only happened once, but I’m amazed he doesn’t come in wearing protective gear.
In the course of his career he has suffered shin splints and stress fractures, but his current issue isn’t dance-related – he’s on painkillers for a compacted wisdom tooth. It probably needs dental surgery, but he’s putting it off in order to continue training.
There are serious injuries, too. Natalie’s had hospital attention for her back. In rehearsal for her sensational samba, she accidentally hit Artem on the nose, leaving him bleeding and dizzy. Those two don’t do anything by half – even suffering for their art.
Patrick damaged his wrist when he was in-line skating to get him in the mood for his salsa – but his performance was praised by Darcey and he still managed an astonishing lift on his injured arm that took everyone’s breath away, including presumably his own.
By far the most serious injury we fear, however, is to be knocked out of the competition. The wounded look on the faces of the losers of the dance-off is testament to that. A shadow looms over every weekend as another couple becomes a casualty. The rest of us continue as if a limb is missing.
What is it that makes dancing such an addiction? That sees us smile through the pain and push ourselves harder and harder? The endorphins that surge through our body. The music that fires our imaginations. The connection with our dance partner that we will never have with anyone else. The thrill of performing on live television and knowing we’ve entertained millions. It’s a cocktail of all these things – a rush to the mind and body, a tonic to the soul–and we all need to keep getting our regular prescription.
My new Strictly body
Arms: Much stronger and more toned.
Tummy: Flatter than before I had my three kids.
Thighs: More muscular, but also more bruised from leaping into Kevin’s arms.
Feet: Blistered and sore.
Toe: Painful trapped nerve.
Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday 6:30pm and Sunday 7:20pm on BBC1