Posing together in an exclusive HELLO! photoshoot, the Welsh rugby ace spoke glowingly of his professional dance partner.
"Katya’s not just a dance coach for me," says Gavin, who recently split from Charlotte Church. "She’s like a life coach. It’s brilliant."
"It’s mental how much time you spend together," says Gavin.
"It’s good, though. It has to be that way for it to work on the dance floor. It’s cool, she’s pretty awesome. She’s a really good teacher.
"I wish she had a little bit more patience, though," he laughs. "She’s hard on me."
"I get a kick out of shy boys," said Katya, who has been encouraging Gavin to lose his inhibitions.
The only downside to Strictly, said Gavin, was that he has been seeing less of his children Ruby, three, and Dexter, 21 months.
But they did see their father on screen. "Charlotte said they watched and were dancing for half an hour afterwards," he said.
He is also hoping that the show will give people the chance to see the real him. "I think people take me too seriously because I haven’t got one of those smiley faces," he said.
"Also, when I say things in the papers, people don’t realise I’m joking. I do laugh at myself.
"They see I do all this grooming and maybe I say a couple of arrogant things now and again, and because they don’t really know me they think bad things of me, so it’s good for people to have a better understanding."
SEE THE FULL EXCLUSIVE STORY IN HELLO! MAGAZINE, OUT NOW