Former NFL star and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Jason Bell has told us that training for the UK’s hit TV show is every bit as tough as being knocked from pillar to post in American Football. 

Jason, who is paired with Russian dancer Luba Mushtuk, is preparing for week two of the show and has discussed the comparisons between appearing live on stage versus lining up in the NFL.

“Strictly training compares to football practice like NFL training camp starts. You train all off season to get on the field but when you actually get on to the field you still have to get into “football shape.” It’s the same with Strictly. No matter how in shape I thought I was in, you can’t get in dance shape unless you actually dance!

“Football practice and Strictly training are both different but hard. Similar in that they are both mentally and physically exhausting, but the difference with dancing is that you don’t have an opponent. It’s more of an individual/duo combination for Strictly but you aren’t smashing into other people! It actually makes dance harder because you don’t have a clear opponent.

“I was more nervous in the NFL because I had an opponent. When I go on the Strictly stage, the only opponent I have is myself.”

And Jason said that there was only so much physical and mental preparation that he could do before throwing himself into the gruelling training regime ahead of the live shows. He has been given support from Nadine Coyle.

“I just tried to be in peak physical condition. I knew my body was going to go into shock, but I wanted to have the conditioning to be able to make it through dance practice.

“Nadine has been so helpful. She is the only person who could mentally prepare me. I had no idea what I was getting into and she prepared me for how difficult learning the routines would be but not to panic, just keep putting in the work and it would start to click.”

While the Californian has always enjoyed dancing, he admits that he has been surprised by how much he has thrived off preparing for Strictly Come Dancing.

“Yes, I like dancing, but I didn’t know I liked it this much! I have a newfound love for dancing now. I didn’t do anything professional before, it was all fun and just being the life of the party.”

For some celebrities, even the most experienced of athletes, performing on Strictly in front of millions of TV viewers is a daunting challenge, but the former Cowboys player said that it was fear that motivated him to signing up for the show.

“Fear (is what motivated me). Something I knew I had no experience with and would challenge me. I’m an amateur and it was a challenge that fascinated and frightened me, and that’s the only way to grow.”

While he’s not getting ahead of himself, the prospect of Bell receiving a ‘10’ or perfect ‘30’ score is one that excites him.

“I respect all the judges and their input. When you are on this show, anything is possible! My objective is to go out there and have a great time. If that gets me a 30, then I’ll take it.

“The only thing I focus on is the next dance. It can always be my last one, so I’m going to appreciate every step. I want to be on as long as possible because with each step comes a new discovery. Winning anything you work hard for is such an honour. Everyone on the show is working hard, so whomever the winner is truly deserves it.”

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