Dancing with the Stars
Illustration: Charles Wilkin
The sequins, the samba...the gummi worms and sesame bagels? How do the gifted professionals on ABC's Dancing with the Stars stay so lean, loose, and enthusiastic as they train their clumsy celebrity partners? Here, you'll find the health secrets of last season's finalists: Winning dancer Julianne Hough (partner to Olympic gold medalist speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno), and runners-up Kym Johnson (partner to 'NSync singer Joey Fatone) and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (partner to professional boxer Laila Ali).

Favorite Preshow Meal

Julianne Hough: "Just green salad and a piece of chicken; if I eat a lot before I dance, I'm afraid I'll throw up. Afterward, I'll snack on gummi worms and Hot Tamales while we're waiting for our score in the red room."

Kym Johnson: "A banana for energy, maybe a big salad. I don't like to eat heavy before I dance."

Maksim Chmerkovskiy: "Before a really intense competition, I'll do a carb overload: lots of pasta for about a week, then eat light the day of. But the show isn't too demanding. I still burn a lot of calories, so I just make sure I've had a good breakfast—a toasted sesame bagel with lox spread from the bagel shop across the street from my house. It fills me up."

Top Stretching Moves

Hough: "Leg kicks, regular splits, and side splits.

Johnson: "I have to stretch everything. Sitting on the floor and touching my toes is great for my hamstrings."

Chmerkovskiy: "The side lateral stretch: You stand up straight, step one leg all the way to the side and bend that knee. It stretches the inside of the opposite leg."

Preperformance Rituals

Hough: "I'll sing along to something I've written or am going to record. Last season I was getting ready to tape 'Will You Dance with Me' [released on iTunes in May]. Singing warms me up and gets me all hyped to dance. With my partner, I'm a blabbermouth. I have to get my word in. I'd take Apolo aside and pump him up. When we did the paso doble, which is very aggressive and passionate, I told him, 'Come on. Get mad at me.'"

Johnson: "I didn't need music—last season my partner, Joey Fatone, blasted his in the trailer next to mine. And he'd jump up and down. It was deafening and hilarious. I'd bang on the wall and scream for him to stop."

Chmerkovskiy: "I don't usually listen to music. If you have to pump yourself up before a performance, you're not ready. Laila and I stayed apart. She needed her time, her space. I needed mine. I try to maintain my cool, not get overexcited, not get nervous. Emotions and nerves just get in the way."

Weight Control Strategy

Hough: "I don't have to watch my weight much. I've been blessed with good genes. But in my family we eat everything that's on the plate. I have to try hard not to do that."

Johnson: "Portion control, bread only at lunch, and nothing late in the evening. I don't like to go to bed with a full stomach."

Chmerkovskiy: "I stay away from fried foods and shop at a natural-foods supermarket. Eating high-quality food is incredibly important. Your body is your weapon, your machine."

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