Exclusive: Giovanni Pernice on fitness, his BAFTA win, and learning BSL thanks to Rose Ayling-Ellis

The Strictly Come Dancing professional has a new love for Zumba

Strictly Come Dancing’s reigning champion Giovanni Pernice has had a whirlwind year since lifting the Strictly Glitterball with dance partner Rose Ayling-Ellis, the BBC show's first deaf contestant.

MORE: The sweetest things Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice have said about each other

In an exclusive interview with HELLO!, Giovanni lifts the lid on his new favourite workout, opens up about his recent BAFTA win with Strictly dance partner Rose, and describes the heartwarming thing he's doing to stay connected to her.

Scroll on to read our interview with Giovanni Pernice…

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WATCH: Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis go behind the scenes at the BAFTAs

Strictly fans who love the idea of dancing but are yet to pursue the sport, will love the musical, Latin-inspired workout that Zumba embodies.

"I love that it's accessible to anyone," explains Giovanni. "Whether you've never danced before or you're an expert like myself, you can still find a way to work up a sweat, enjoy the music, feel the rhythm and enjoy the class in a way that gets every single part of the body working. It’s a great way to encourage friendly competition too, and it's always fun to see who's bold enough to add a little spice to their workout."

Giovanni loves the danced-based, Latin-inspired workout

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MORE: Giovanni Pernice breaks silence after big BAFTA win with Rose-Ayling Ellis

Giovanni explained the "beauty of Zumba" lies in the sense of community that comes with each class. "It's such a welcoming space, each Zumba class encourages a party. It’s a good class to improve your confidence too. Even if you don't think you're 'good' at dancing, after a few classes you'll know the steps so well you'll be able to put your own flair onto it."

Speaking on what gives him his confidence, Giovanni joked: "Darling, I was born confident!" before continuing: "When you do something that you love, I always say that you don’t have to think about what other people think about you.

"As long as you’re doing something you enjoy and something that makes you feel comfortable, then just go with the flow."

Dance might be your passion, but what keeps you in the industry?

"What I love about my job is the fact I get to express myself via an outlet that I love," says Giovanni.

"Getting to perform every night to a different audience is also what I thrive on. It gives me the push I need to keep going. I always say the reason I’m still standing is because of my fans. It’s the people who watch the show and come to support me.

Giovanni says he thrives off live performance

"As a dancer, I always feel like I want to give each audience the best experience of their life when they come to my show. I really do live for a live audience and the performance. I love live entertainment. When you do a good dance and the audience scream and shout, nothing compares to the buzz from it."

Did you ever think when you were first paired with Rose that you would go on to not only win Strictly, but also win a BAFTA?

"No," Giovanni says. "When I was first paired with Rose, I was more focused on what we would get out of the partnership," he explained.

Giovanni became the first Strictly Come Dancing pro to win a BAFTA

"For Rose, it was incredibly important for her to raise awareness for the deaf community. Obviously, I’m a competitive person - I always wanted to win Strictly. I’ve wanted to win it for the past eight seasons I’ve been on the show.

"But when it came to my partnership with Rose, that changed. I was more focused on fulfilling her goal, of changing people’s lives and raising awareness for the deaf community that was so important for her," he continued.

"By the middle of the season when we saw the impact we had already made on the public, we decided that regardless of whether we won or not, it didn’t matter. We had already achieved what we set out to do. For us, we had already won, in a way.

"Then of course we did end up winning - which was the cherry on top thank you very much! And then we went on to win a BAFTA too. So it’s been a phenomenal outcome even though winning was never our priority."

LOOK: Strictly Come Dancing tattoos: From Neil Jones to Oti Mabuse, Giovanni Pernice and Gorka Márquez

How do you feel when you look back on your silent dance?

"I feel so proud," says Giovanni. "It’s one of those dances that is not necessarily difficult, nor technically complex in terms of dancing, but those ten seconds of silence really showed me how we can be strong with simple things."

Giovanni and Rose performed their silent dance to Zara Larsson's Symphony

He added: "Watching it back, I just remember how many nights I was losing sleep trying to make sure the dance was right. It was so important to Rose that we got it right and I had to do my best to make sure we had it perfected. So I feel very proud of that."

The Strictly pro added that he has continued his learning of British Sign Language after his partnership with Rose.

"BSL is something I wanted to learn even before I was partnered with Rose. Of course, she raised my awareness of the deaf community. In my own show, I have an interpreter, we do 20 shows in the theatre with an interpreter too. So sign language is definitely something I’m still learning."

To find a Zumba class near you, visit www.zumba.com.

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