01 February 2023

Strictly’s Dianne Buswell on mixing up her workouts, and inheriting a love of cooking from her Italian mum

01 February 2023

As a top professional dancer, Dianne Buswell works hard to stay fit – and that doesn’t just mean putting in endless hours on the dancefloor.

“The physical, mental and emotional health benefits of dance are endless. But as a dancer I don’t just dance, I do a lot of other things that help my body get dance-fit and dance-ready, ” says the flame-haired Strictly Come Dancing pro, who also has a personal trainer and fits workouts in between dance sessions to keep herself strong and injury-free.

“Dancing is definitely enough to keep you fit, but if I just keep on dancing and dancing and dancing, I’m using the same muscle groups and I have to do different things in order to engage different muscles, so I don’t get injured and I can do this for a longer time,” she explains.

“And because your body gets used to certain workouts, and I’ve danced since I was about four years old, it’s about muscle memory for me. So I do try to do different things to engage different muscles and engage my body in a different way.”

Australian-born Buswell, 33, is now sharing her dance fitness secrets in a new workout programme – Danceworks by Dianne Buswell – which features dance-inspired workouts from hip-hop and samba to ballroom and ballet, and is available on fitness platform Gymondo (gymondo.com/en).

“You don’t have to be a dancer at all – it’s just using different muscles that you probably think: ‘I didn’t even know that existed’,” she says of the workouts.

“Sometimes you do a workout and you’re just doing it because you have to, but I always feel exercise should be something we do because we enjoy it, and we’re grateful our bodies can actually move,” Buswell adds. “I love the fact that I do a workout and think it was hard, and also think it’s so cool that my body can do that.

“If I can help anyone change their mindset about working out and making it a really fun activity, then I feel like my job’s done.”

The year after she joined Strictly, Buswell reached the final with her 2018 series partner, YouTuber Joe Sugg. They finished as runners-up – but eventually came away with a bigger prize than the famous Glitterball Trophy as they fell in love, and now live together in the Sussex countryside.

And happily, the end of his Strictly stint didn’t stop Sugg dancing with Buswell.

“We still dance together. He fell in love with dancing, and it’s obviously something he’s always around, because I’m always dancing, or showing him what we’ve done or asking what he thinks of a routine. He’s still around it, so he still likes to do a little dance every now and then, for sure.”

Another of Buswell’s loves is  cooking – inspired by her Italian mother.

“When I get time, I absolutely love to cook,” she says. “My mum’s Italian, and I’ve grown up learning to cook from her. I’ve always been quite a foodie – I’ve got two older brothers, my dad loves food, we all love food in my family. I do really enjoy cooking and I’m always really interested in the Mediterranean diet.

“My mum is very health-conscious in terms of what products she uses, so I’ve grown up learning to cook good, hearty meals that are good for you, using natural ingredients.”

She doesn’t eat chicken or red meat, but does eat fish and says her go-to dish is a good ratatouille. “I eat as healthily as I can – but I’m only human and I love my chocolate. I still have a drink every now and then, so it’s not like I don’t do any of that stuff, but I do realise the effect it has on my body. The more in tune you are with your body, the more you realise what you’re putting into it does have an effect on what you get out of it,” Buswell reflects.

“With my intense scheduling, I have to look after myself and eat the right food in order to do what I do. I want to feel good when I’m doing it, so I don’t restrict what I eat, I just think about my options better. Rather than going for something that’s filled with sugar or processed, I’ll try and go for the more natural option.”

Sugg is a great cook too, she says, although he’s not one to whip up quick meals. “Joe’s actually a very good cook – the only thing with Joe is he’s very slow, whereas I’m very fast in the kitchen. If he’s going to make dinner, I think he should start it at lunchtime and by dinner it’ll be ready!

“He does everything slow, but I must say that everything he does is perfect. It does have its pay-offs. He does things spot-on, whereas I’m a little bit more slapdash, but I get it done quick.”

The couple have been like “passing ships” recently, she laments. Sugg went on holiday to South Africa after Christmas, while she spent Christmas and New Year in Australia with her family – then as soon as she got back, Buswell started the Strictly live tour, which ends in mid-February.

“I’m on tour at the moment, so we’re like passing ships – he came back from his holiday and I’ve gone out on tour,” she explains.

“I got home, unpacked my nice summery outfits, packed my winter outfits, and off I went. It’s been a busy one, but this was really the only time I could fit in going to Australia, so I had to go. I loved it because I got to spend Christmas and New Year with my family, but it meant as soon as I got back I was straight into work again. But it’s all good, I love it.”

How’s she finding the freezing weather after returning from sunny Australia?

“I always say I don’t mind a bit of cold weather, as long as you can counteract it with some heat at times. There’s a nice contrast between going to Australia, where there are days when it’s almost too hot, and you come back here and it’s nice and cold, almost too cold! I don’t mind the winter, in all honesty. I know that’s a really weird thing for an Australian to say!”

Will she ever go back to live in her homeland?

“Never say never,” Buswell says with a laugh. “But at the moment, all my work is here, I’ve got my house here with Joe, my friends, and Joe’s family is now my family. I’ve got everything here apart from my own immediate family, which is the hardest thing, obviously.

“But I love my work, and while it’s still booming over here, I’m really loving it in the UK, and I can’t see myself going back any time soon.”

Danceworks by Dianne Buswell is available on Gymondo (gymondo.com/en) 

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