Interviews / 7 January, 2018 / Nanny Anita

Strictly Judge Darcey Bussell On Never Dieting, Dancing To Keep Fit And Positive Body Image

Every year I find, like a lot of other people, that my New Year’s resolution is to get fitter. My intentions start off pure, my collection of workout DVDs grow and at least once a week I dance along to them. However every year, I quickly fall back into old habits. I always seem to stay in bed just slightly longer than I should and run out of time to do them. By the end of the day, I am normally too exhausted to do anything but crawl back into my warm and inviting bed.

The problem I find with workout DVDs is that I get bored of doing the same thing over and over again. I prefer going to a class where it changes each time I do it. Finding the time to fit classes around my crazy work schedule is hard – that’s why I opt for DVD workouts. This is where Darcey Bussell’s DDMix DVD is different. You get to pick and choose your own workout from the vast collection of routines that she has put together. There is a handy information pack that comes with it that will help you decide what to do based on what you want to get out of it.

This week, I caught up with Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell to try out some of her 30-minute sessions in person and find out more the inspiration behind her fitness DVD, how she keeps fit, and portraying a positive body image.

What kind of research did you do when choosing these styles of dance from all across the world?

That was quite easy. I’ve done a lot of documentaries and events where we choose a lot of different styles, so I was quite well informed. When I left ballet, I took on other classes in different styles, and I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a programme where you can have diversity and never get bored?”

The hardest thing is trying to keep things authentic. If you go around Africa, all of the moves can be quite similar so it was about choosing that very authentic African dance that people will totally recognise and visualise straight away.

Did you find it hard to not stereotype iconic cultural moves?

It’s about keeping it real, but that really comes down to the music. So for me, if we have the music right, then we just need to get the choreography right. We have to simplify it so everything goes in sections of four, then double time, and then you do eight in the same amount of time as you would do fours. It came down to making sure there was always a pattern and that took us a while to figure out.

Do you have a favourite style of dance?

Um, not really no! I love the African routine, but I think the music helps with that. For me it’s often whether the music ticks the box.

Darcey Bussell

Are there any dances on there that people will recognise from Strictly?

There’s a salsa, a samba, a couple of jives, and a waltz – so that’s a yes to your answer!

How has your approach to your body (i.e the way you exercise and eat) changed since you retired from professional ballet?

I realised very quickly that I couldn’t just do nothing, so the idea was to keep my body moving and to keep it supple and have some sort of strength. I realised the strain I had put my body under from five years of ballet meant I needed to keep my joints moving to keep them strong.

So dance fitness is the only thing I’ve done really! I started off doing Zumba and had such a laugh doing that, and I thought there must be something that’s slightly more diverse than Zumba, which is why I created my DVD.

It also came down to looking at my girls and realising that they were doing all kinds of competitive sports at school. I wanted them to have something that was active yet not just about being competitive. I wanted them to participate and not worry about being good at it – just to have fun with it.

Is the DVD something you’d recommend to new mums who are trying to get back into shape after having their baby?

Definitely. It’s not necessarily high impact. You can choose the genres and styles that are simple but detailed to keep your mind stimulated. It’s good to be stimulated, so it’s great to do something that has so much coordination throughout the body. Suddenly you’re stimulating all these nerves that go into all of your muscles and you’re getting a full body workout.

READ MORE: The Best London Fitness Classes To Try In 2018

What specific areas of the body does dance target?

Dance touches every part. We have some genres that target specific body parts more so than others, such as the Arabian dance and the 1990s routine is very arm heavy. You have other genres like Irish or the haka that are very calf/thigh orientated. It’s about diversity, so as long as you have a mix in there you’ll be fine.

Is it important to you to portray a positive body image to women?

Yes – definitely positive in being active, I’m not too fussed about body image as long as you’re healthy. My daughter is always going “I want a waist” and I say well as long as you’re fit darling, your waist will happen. Your waist doesn’t just appear by tightening your belt! It is very important for me to send a healthy message out that your body will be heathy and strong if you put the right things into it and keep active. That’s what we endorse.

Did you trial the routines with your daughters before launching it?

Yes, my youngest. She was perfect. She’s not shy so she tried all of them with me. She often wanted to put her own moves in!

Darcey Bussell

Do you think your daughter might be interested in following in your footsteps?

She does musical theatre so she loves all the singing and performing in that way. She loves athletics too, so I don’t know!

As well as going into schools and teaching kids, do you run live classes for adults?

Yes, there are about 200 instructors throughout the UK. We also have a few in Australia, Spain and Portugal. With the schools, my first thought was that I was looking at my daughters and thinking, we need something to stimulate children in any way possible that doesn’t just have to be about athletics and sports. We can bring dance into the mix too”.

What is your diet like and what kind of food do you eat to keep your body lean?

When I’m doing something like Strictly Come Dancing, I try to stick to more proteins than carbs. Generally I have a good mix of food, I’m not ever somebody to have a diet as such.

Darcey Bussell Diverse Dance Mix DVD is out now and can be purchased here.


NB: If you’re expecting or have recently given birth, please consult your doctor or health professional before starting an exercise regime.

READ MORE: Emma Bunton On Creativity, Having Children And Co-Founding Kit & Kin

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