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Giovanni Pernice takes part in a Zumba class

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The star who has appeared on the popular BBC One dancing show since 2015 made headlines after being crowned champion in 2021 with partner Rose Ayling-Ellis, the first deaf contestant to appear on the show. Since then the pair have gone on to win a BAFTA award for the publicly-voted Virgin Media’s Must-See Moment, generic renagel prices and have supported the inspiring Take A Moment campaign for mental health awareness earlier this year. So when asked how he keeps on top of both his physical and mental health, the Italian professional dancer said that dance has taken centre stage in his fitness routine the past 23 years, with a dislike for relaxing.

Most recently Pernice tried his hand at a Zumba class. The fitness company, which has more than 15 million participants weekly is described as “exercise in disguise” as it combines easy-to-follow steps with infectious Latin inspired music to create a calorie-burning dance fitness party.

Although never having tried a Zumba class before, Pernice didn’t hesitate to try it out. And when asked what he thought of the class he said: “The way Zumba is created just makes it so easy to follow – so it’s easier to focus on just having fun in the class, without actually realising you’re exercising.

“That’s pretty cool, especially for those of us who find workouts hard to stick to. The class was like going to a party and dancing to the best Latin tunes. The best way to express yourself!”

With the fitness class focusing heavily on dance, Pernice was a natural when picking up the steps, but the star went on to add that even for those who have no dancing ability, Zumba is the perfect choice to stay healthy.

He added: “It is accessible for every single person, every single age. The good thing about Zumba is that it has very simple steps to remember.

“You learn the routine at the beginning and then even if you don’t remember the steps in the first class, in the second and third you already know the beginning steps and you can start to enjoy yourself more.

“You can spice things up and do it the way you want to do it. I have seen the difference between people that first start a class and they gradually enjoy it more. That is the beauty of dance. When you can start to express yourself.”

Taking part regularly in health and exercise classes similar to Zumba classes has typically been associated with boosted energy and mood as well the increased self-confidence and sense of wellbeing that is commonly a documented scientific benefit of group exercise.

This is important as everyone is encouraged by medical bodies like the NHS to exercise regularly. In fact, exercising can help to reduce an individual’s risk of major illnesses such as:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer.

Whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life, whilst also helping to avoid other health conditions such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease and stress.

Official recommendations state that adults should try to be active every day and aim to do at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week, through a variety of activities.

For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to make activity part of everyday life, like walking for health or cycling instead of using the car to get around. However, the more you do, the better, and taking part in activities such as sports and exercise will make you even healthier.

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When asked what an average exercise day looks like for Pernice, he replied: “I do dance most of my days. When on tour it is the warm up before the show and then the show itself which is a lot of cardio.

“When I have time I like to work out as well, but it just depends if I can fit it into my schedule. It is a bit difficult at the moment.”

In the past the star has confessed that he works hard to keep his toned appearance in shape. He said: “But I like running – I like running a lot – so I bought myself a treadmill and do five or 10k a day. And then I do some abs workout, just to keep the six pack in shape!”

With a hectic work schedule and an undeniable love for fitness, Pernice goes on to admit that he finds it difficult to take a break and relax. It is his constant need to be doing something and his love of performing that helps him to keep going.

This need to be constantly active didn’t stop during the COVID-19 lockdown, when the world seemed to come to a halt. Pernice powered through and organised lockdown dance classes which has become known as a wonderful community who call themselves Giovanni’s Angels.

“We had over 1,000 people a week to do these classes. We managed to do it for 18 weeks straight. It is beautiful and these people have become friends now,” the star explained.

In addition to physical health, Pernice said that mental health has always been the most “important” thing for him. As a keen advocate for spreading positivity the dancer said that “every night at [his] show, [he] wants people to love themselves no matter if they have a disability or anything”.

Recently this has been something he and his partner Ayling-Ellis have worked hard to promote together as they became faces for the Take A Moment campaign for mental health. The campaign which aimed to encourage those suffering to lean on their loved ones and speak out, showed the pair in a black-and-white image which was projected on a billboard in Piccadilly Circus.

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