Last week, the Season 16 Dancing With The Stars cast was revealed and to our excitement, two-time champ Cheryl Burke will be back March 18 for another year of gracefully stiff competition—this time with comedian D. L. Hughley. We cha-chatted with Cheryl before the big announcement about leading a FITNESS-approved lifestyle. Read on to find out how she stays fueled and fit every quickstep of the way—plus why she’s thanking all the haters out there.
You’re a force to be reckoned with as DWTS’ only professional to appear in the finals four times…plus you’ve taken home the Mirror Ball trophy twice, back-to-back! Spill your tactics.
During the show, it’s all about showcasing my partner. I feel like sometimes people think their partner’s going to be a professional dancer at the end of the day and for me, it’s just about making my partner look comfortable and not awkward and really developing a great chemistry with whoever I dance with. Dancing is a hard sport to do, especially when you have no experience coming into a show like ours. It’s just important that I showcase my partner and not showcase myself. I feel like the people at home want to see the progress of these celebrities and how they progress each and every week.
So how will you bring that experience to Season 16?
Every celebrity I dance with always brings something new to the table. Everyone has their own personality and their own way of learning so I feel like every season is a challenge for me regardless. It’s even more challenging now that I’ve done it for so long because I put pressure on myself to make sure that every season that I do is better than the last one I did.
If you could be paired with any celebrity, who would it be?
I don’t think you’ve seen a male tennis player before or a soccer player I think would be fun. Honestly, I feel like athletes always do so well in the show. I think that having a season of just athletes would be pretty amazing!
The soccer player would have good foot skills!
Exactly—fast on his feet, in shape.
Of all of the gowns you’ve sported, do you have a favorite?
Oh my gosh, there’s been so many; I’ve worn over 500 I think now. I think the one I wore with Emmitt back in season three—it was a green dress and we actually won the trophy in it. He was wearing emerald green. I liked our outfit together as a couple.
We hear you’re a runner—walk us through your typical workout.
For me, it’s all about cross training and plyometrics and just making sure my metabolism keeps burning throughout the day. I love to just go on my treadmill and run if I’m not having my private trainer there. But I try to do my private training at least three times a week and I think it’s so important to constantly burn even throughout the day. I think people make the mistake of, ‘Oh, I can just run a few miles,’ but you’re totally forgetting the rest of your body. My trainer focuses more on leaning out the muscles and doing intervals so like getting my heart rate up, slowing it down and vice versa.
What is your go-to snack?
Sargento Cheese. First of all, I love cheese and a lot of people for some reason feel guilty for eating cheese. With Sargento Cheese, it’s just really high-quality protein and especially when I’m on the go, it’s so easy to just put it in your purse. It’s so convenient. You can wrap it around a slice of turkey or eat it with fruit. Especially during my long, eight-hour rehearsals, it’s so important to get your metabolism going and the only way to do that is to eat when you’re hungry and to snack on proteins and listen to your body. If your body is craving a certain thing, don’t dismiss it. If you want to eat cheese, eat cheese. The Reduced-Fat Colby Jack Cheese is amazing…the calories, it’s low in-take so it’s not like you’re eating so much that you’re going to feel sick. It’s a perfect amount of portions.
Is diet important to not only kill it on the dance floor but look fab in those revealing dresses?
Yeah, tell me about it. Basically, we’re all naked. It’s important to keep eating small meals a day and I think snacking is definitely important. I have three meals and two snacks throughout the day. It’s hard, especially for us, because when I dance and eat, I get really tired so snacking is the best way to go.
How was it being a judge on the Miss America Pageant?
Oh my gosh, it was amazing! I had a newfound respect for the whole organization. I never really knew about it and I didn’t even know the difference between Miss USA and Miss America or Miss Universe, but it was a great experience and I met such amazing women. These women are so intelligent and have a passion for whatever they do and they’re all so talented. I’m used to being judged so it was great to be sitting in the judge’s seat for once.
Your body and weight has been a topic of discussion in the past—which is absurd! How do you deal with the haters?
You know, the haters just make me stronger. The body-image issue thing happened a few years ago—I gained maybe five pounds and I’m 5’4” so I have a very small frame. So when I gain a pound, you can see it. But, you know, for me it was a hard time in my life and I think with any woman, especially in this business, I think you’re setting out the wrong example to people, especially to young kids. You don’t have to be a size zero to look amazing and be pretty. I think being curvy is in. I mean look at J. Lo, Kim Kardashian, all of the Kardashians are just gorgeous and voluptuous. I feel like as long as you’re living a healthy lifestyle, I think people just need to realize that. For me, I am a curvy girl and I embrace it; I workout and I eat healthy and there’s always going to be haters, but I feel like because of them, they make me stronger. So thank you to the haters.
More from FITNESS:
- Peta Murgatroyd Hopes To Defend Her Title on Season 15 of DWTS
- Melissa Rycroft Talks Healthy Swaps and Her Fit Mommyhood Routine
- Shawn Johnson Talks Balance & Raising The Fitness Bar Post-DWTS