Derek Hough shocked a group of fitness fanatics when he recently showed up at a New York City Zumba class. In a video posted by Yahoo Entertainment, the 33-year-old World of Dance judge and longtime Dancing With the Stars pro dancer—who is the only six-time mirrorball champion in the history of the ABC celebrity ballroom competition— stunned students as he crashed their class late last week.
Hough made a surprise cameo at Children’s Aid Dunlevy Milbank Center in New York City, where he bared his buff arms in a black tank as he surprised a group of lucky employees of Boys and Girls Club of America and Children’s Aid, who were attending the class. According to Yahoo, at one point, Derek Hough even took over the class and led students through a couple of routines set to dance tunes, which only ramped up the participants’ sweat-breaking excitement.
One star-struck fan said, “Is this really happening?!” as Hough joined in as part of the new global movement, “Zumba Breaks.” The movement launched just ahead of Mental Health Awareness Month in May as a way to encourage people everywhere to improve their mental health by getting up and moving for 10 to 15 minutes each day.
Hough said one of the fastest ways to change how people feel, both emotionally and mentally, is to “change the way you move your body.” The Emmy-winning choreographer said the connection between movement and mental health is extremely important.
Derek Hough is known for his high-energy dance and fitness routines, but he has also long been an advocate for mental health awareness. In 2017, Hough released the song and music video for “Hold On,” a song he wrote as a way to shed light on mental health struggles. In the video, Hough played a war vet struggling with PTSD. The Vampire Diaries‘ Kayla Elwell co-starred with Hough in the video.
Derek Hough told Billboard he wrote the song back in 2012 when a close friend was going through a difficult time. Hough said the 2017 suicide death of rock singer Chester Bennington also profoundly affected him, as he had once met the Linkin Park frontman and his kids. Derek also shared that he had an uncle who also took his own life.
“I think, for me, being a performer, it’s about sharing. Whether it be choreographing or creating a routine, whatever I am basing it upon, a subject or personal experience or somebody else’s personal experience, for me it makes it so much more,” Hough said. “And so for this, it just was very important to me. It’s a very important subject that I feel like is important to talk about, especially at this time.”
You can see Derek Hough on World of Dance, Sundays at 8 p.m. on NBC.