Jenna Johnson says dancing is “one of the most amazing workouts.” She should know. The 24-year-old has been dancing since she was a toddler and just took home the coveted Mirrorball Trophy on Season 26 of Dancing With the Stars.
Johnson didn’t start on the hit show as a pro dancer paired with a celebrity competitor. Jenna first appeared on DWTS as a troupe dancer in Season 18. She was also a contestant on Season 10 of So You Think You Can Dance. She’s trained in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary, in addition to ballroom dancing. Through all that training, Johnson has learned a thing or two about how to stay on top of her dancing game, and healthy eating and exercise are a big part of her secret. She recently shared some of her expertise, and it’s both easy and fun.
Jenna says people judge themselves harshly and often fear taking dance classes because they’re afraid of getting it wrong. Or they hesitate just because it’s something completely new and unknown. It’s so worth it though. It works muscles that lots of other workouts don’t reach and is more than a physical activity. You have to have your head in the game too. Johnson recommends two particular dances for getting a workout: salsa and jive.
Salsa is great for cardio and endurance. It gives your core a real workout as you move your entire mid-section. It tones those oblique muscles in your sides and your back muscles. All that movement in your core is great for loosening up those muscles, which helps with general mobility too.
If you’re looking for something to really get your heart pumping, jive is Jenna’s go-to. “Jive for me always gets me panting and burning the most.” You never stop moving with jive so that heart rate is going to rise, building your aerobic fitness.
Eating right is key for Johnson with her active lifestyle. She has to keep her energy up. People reports that a high-protein diet is what works for her. She starts most days with eggs and bacon for breakfast followed by a salad with chicken or quinoa for lunch. She rounds out her protein-packed day with chicken, fish, or steak for dinner. Snacks are carrots and hummus or pretzels. Jenna tries to keep it light at night so her stomach isn’t full when it’s time to hit the sack.
Jenna’s final words of advice are to not be too harsh on yourself. Jump in and do the best you can. “Don’t try to be anyone else, you need to know your body first and you need to find out what works for you.”