IAN Waite is one of Britain’s best-love celebrity dancers.
He rose to foxtrotting TV fame in 2004 when he partnered Denise Lewis in the second season of the BBC hit Strictly Come Dancing. The couple narrowly lost out on lifting the glitter ball to Jill Halfpenny and Darren Bennett, but Ian picked himself up, dusted himself down and made it to the final the following year with celebrity partner Zoe Ball.
He now has a regular spot on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, with Waite’s Wednesday Warm Up using a telestrator to illustrate his critiques of contestants’ rehearsals.
He’s a favourite among dance fans and is very much part of the Strictly family with his clever choreography for the show’s group dances.
However, there is more to this talented man from Reading than meets the eye, and FitSteps – his collaboration with fellow Strictly Come Dancing professional Natalie Lowe and Strictly celebrity Mark Foster – is set to take the country by storm.
It’s the first dance fitness fusion of its kind, and blends a number of classic Latin and ballroom dances and a series of tried and tested fitness methods which work, tone and sculpt the whole body, burning up to a staggering 600 calories in just one 45-minute session.
“I am running classes in Reading on a Monday and a Tuesday and love it,” said Ian.
“The great thing about FitSteps is that it’s varied. Because of the differences in techniques and tempo of the dances, the postures are grouped together to create different effects on the body and achieve the results you want. There’s absolutely no way you’ll have as much fun pounding the treadmill as you will learning to jive.
“The idea for FitSteps was conceived 15 years ago when Ian was living in Holland.
“I used to go to body pump and aerobics classes but didn’t think the sessions had as much effect as the dancing I was doing.
“I thought I would put together a programme and planned to take it to a gym, but to be honest I never really took it anywhere.
“When I moved back to the UK about 12 years ago I went straight into Strictly and was really busy. It wasn’t until I stopped doing the show as a regular professional that I decided to return to the programme I had put together.
“Natalie (Lowe) approached me as Mark (Foster) had mentioned to her about putting together a fitness programme using Latin dance steps. Nat knew I had come up with something years ago and so we got together and the rest, as they say, is history.”
It took a year for the trio to perfect the programme and, in March, they officially launched FitSteps, and now have more than 1,500 instructors across the country – including classes in Staffordshire and Derbyshire.
“We started training instructors in March and coached a team to help us roll the programme out as Natalie and I were just about to tour with Strictly Confidential,” said Ian.
“We chose some excellent dancers and fitness instructors and had two teams who toured the country.
“Dance is a fantastic way to get fit. Depending on what the dance requires you to do – whether you’re in different holds, on your toes or whether you rise and fall for extra movement – your armography, and even the tempo of the track, combined together guarantees that you will hit most muscle groups during one class. FitSteps will help you burn fat, while also sculpting and toning the body fast.
“Because of the range of movement required in dance, you will also improve your circulation as well as overall body mobilisation.
“Anything that requires your body to move increases its range of movement, balance and strength. And every time you lean a bit deeper into a step, you will improve your flexibility and posture.”
There are plans to roll out extensions of the programme, including GoldenSteps, which will feature music from the golden era; KidSteps, and there are plans to introduce FitSteps Extreme.
“It’s such a new brand and it’s been so successful so quickly we want it to be sustained over the next decade,” said Ian.
To find a class near you log on to the FitSteps website at www.fitsteps.co.uk
You could also learn how to do ballroom and Latin moves with Natalie and Ian with the limited edition FitSteps DVD. To purchase your copy, priced £14.48 including postage, log on to www.fitsteps.co.uk