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Katya Jones and best friend Aimee Fuller: 'Happiness is sharing life with incredible people'

The Strictly dancer and Olympian on their inseparable bond

katya aimee
Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
March 24, 2023
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Strictly Come Dancing's Katya Jones and her best friend, snowboarder Aimee Fuller, may well be two of the most uplifting ladies HELLO! has ever met, and when we sit down to chat about their friendship, they are radiating happiness.

How are they doing, we ask them. "I'm great!" Aimee beams. "I've just got off an E-Bike so I'm absolutely freezing but feeling energised from the cold." Katya is equally positive, "I'm awesome, as always."

The good friends are just back from a three-week trip to Australia together where they travelled around the country making fantastic memories. They first met in 2021 and have been inseparable ever since, bonding over their similar life paths, passion for fitness and sharing many fun times, as well as being their for each other during the lows.

Katya Jones and Aimee Fuller hold up hands by stunning view

Aimee and Katya went travelling together

Katya, 33, is known for being a professional dancer on BBC1's Strictly, which she won in 2017 with her celebrity partner Joe McFadden.

Aimee, 31, is a two-time Team GB Winter Olympian and broadcaster who presents on Ski Sunday and hosts her weekly podcast Monday Mile. Her book Fear Less Live More is out now. Katya and Aimee are also making their TV debut together on C4's Celebrity Hunted on 28 March.

Here, they open up to HELLO! about their friendship and reveal why their close bond makes them so happy…

Aimee and Katya, tell us how you met…

Aimee: There are actually two stories of how we met… the fake story and the real story!

Katya: We've been rolling with it for a while but let's give them the truth now.

Aimee: I competed in South Korea in 2018 and Katya is half Korean. We've been telling people that Katya's nan was invited to sit in the grandstand because she's local to the area. I said my nan was there with her British flag, and Katya's nan was next to my nan and she said, 'Oh are you supporting Great Britain? My granddaughter lives in London, do you know the show Strictly?' And my nan was like, 'Of course,' and then our two nans introduced us and ever since we've been friends.

Katya: I don't even have a nan in Korea! It's a good story though, right? We actually met through Neil, my ex-husband. I went to his birthday party in 2021 and Aimee was a big part of it because she introduced him to wake surfing; we spent his birthday wake surfing with a group of people, and Aimee was one of them and we got on so well. That was it, the start of the adventure.

Aimee: The grandma story came about because so many people ask us how we met and why, saying 'Why are you guys friends?' We didn't know why we had to justify it so we found it funny to make up a story.

Katya: People see us together and they can't connect why we could be friends. There was no connection of mutual friends apart from Neil – now we have loads because we've integrated in each other's worlds, but at the start it was really random. Neil is the link!

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Katya Jones and Aimee Fuller pose with snowboards

Katya and Aimee hit the slopes    Photo credit: Max Howard

Why do you think you get on so well?

Katya: There's a few things. We're in a similar stage in life, a similar age, we've lived that high intensity career working hard to achieve our dreams and now we've come to a place where we're both single – we bond over a lot. We love a good chat and share the same morals and values in life. These things are really important to us.

Aimee: I'd say we're each other's biggest supporters, both in and out of work. I feel so grateful that I've had Katya there for the last 18 months – it doesn't matter what it is, she's there. I'm so excited for her success and seeing her rise, and that's reciprocated, which is really special in a friendship.

Katya: A hundred per cent, she's my number one cheerleader, always. Even over little things. She'll be running in the morning and I'll be like, 'Go on! How much longer can you go?!' It's highs and lows; in a short amount of time, we've been there for each other, through tough times as well and that's where you really get tested.

Katya Jones and Aimee Fuller smile on a boat

The girls have a lot of fun

How does your friendship make you happy?

Aimee: For me, it's having someone there who I can trust with anything. Trust is a really big thing. There's zero judgment in our friendship; I feel like I'm always the most open, honest version of myself, and if one of us is down, we bring so much positivity into each other's lives. We help each other out of that hole. And we have a hell of a lot of fun. It's such a strong bond, I don't think we've ever gone a day without speaking. Everything is reported!

Katya: When we say everything, we mean everything [laughs].

Katya Jones and Aimee Fuller in a bar

Katya and Aimee on a night out

Aimee: London's a big city and we both have family outside of London. Katya is the closest thing to that for me, she is my London family, and I'm so grateful for a friend I can call on at any given moment, with anything.

Katya: It's one of the reasons why we bonded so much, because we don't have family here. It's a big safety net. I know that if either of us is having a low day, we know how to turn it around for each other, and we always have things to look forward to together. It doesn't have to be a big thing; it can be as simple as 'let's go for a walk and watch the sunset'.

We speak about this a lot… two females who are successful in our own right in different areas. We take pride in supporting each other. It's a big deal for us and we're hopefully leading by example and spreading that energy around. It's a positive thing. Aimee inspires me by what she does; it gives me that kick up the ar*e sometimes if she's doing something amazing.

MORE: Cold-water swimming eased my anxiety and isolation

Are you competitive with each other?

Katya: No, not really.

Aimee: The only time was recently as Katya's got significantly better at running and I'm the runner out of the two of us. It was after our Australia trip and I'd dragged her though five or six runs in 30degree heat, then when we got back, she was smashing it. It just inspired me and pushed me on to be better, so we can utilise our friendship in that way as well.

When Katya's doing Strictly and she's working 16–17-hour days and she's up at the crack of dawn barely sleeping, working her backside off creating magic – that for me is inspiring to see. I'm like 'Wow! How does she manage to fit everything in, still turn up, still have a smile on her face and continue to make people happy?'

That work ethic and professionalism, I take so much from that, and I channel it into what I'm doing. That's what's so great about friendship, there's a transaction of energy, but it's also uplifting each other and making each other better.

Katya Jones and Aimee Fuller on skateboards

The ladies even skateboard together     Photo credit: Max Howard

Why do you think making time for friends is important for our wellbeing?

Katya: It's a really easy excuse isn't it, 'Oh I don't have time'. It's effort and choice. Trust me, I'm really bad at phone calls. Anyone who knows me knows how much I avoid speaking on the phone, so I try to overcome that fear – Aimee will just ring me out of the blue.

Making time for friends is good for your wellbeing. I always feel happy to know that good things are happening in their lives. By giving, you're getting. It's good for your head and before you know it, you've turned your day around.

Katya Jones and Aimee Fuller litter pick by river

The ladies took part in a river clean up project      Photo credit: Brett Cove

Aimee: It's also accountability. Sometimes we book the most ridiculous early workouts, but it's great because I get to see my best mate, we do something together and through that commitment we also do something for ourselves. We do a lot of that. It's taken us to so many different places and got us trying different things. Whether it's hot yoga, whether it's Barry's gym class, a strength training class or even partnership stuff like acro yoga – I do that with Katya and a lot of that is trust.

Katya: You're right. Once you're committed you have to deliver. It's a great way of getting things done.

Aimee, what's it like for you when Strictly is on and you see less of Katya?

Aimee: It's like having my left arm cut off! But I get to see my best friend do what she loves and see her shine. It makes me happy seeing how happy it makes her. What she does is truly incredible. I have so much respect for ballroom dancing. I wish I could move like that.

HELLO!: Would you go on Strictly?

Katya: That's why I'm holding back on teaching her because she'd have an unfair advantage. When I'm doing Strictly, Sundays are my only day off, which isn't really a day off because I do prep work and choreographing, but I still see Aimee a lot. We'll be there in her living room trying out some of my dance ideas for the show, and she'll be there lifting me upside down to see if my celeb can do it!

denim jackets

Aimee and Katya wearing the denim jackets made by Katya       

Photo credit: Brett Cove

How do you think friendship can make us happy in a way a relationship can't?

Katya: I'm going to be quite bold here. We laugh about it a lot and we call each other 'wives' but I genuinely think our friendship is everything, without the sexual part and connection. Is it too far to say that Aimee? That's the way I feel.

Aimee: I'd say I feel exactly the same. It's like the best kind of relationship, just without that part. We do joke about 'It's my wife!' If we turn up somewhere and Katya's not with me, everyone's like 'Where's your wife?!' It's fair to say – and obviously life changes – but it's an inseparable bond and a friendship that I'm so proud to be a part of. Katya makes me happy. It's as simple as that.

Katya: And you make me happy! Going a bit deeper into it, we find it quite surprising how many people find our friendship unusually tight. I don't understand why. Isn't it what you expect from friendship? Don't you want to have a friend who brings you happiness when you see them?

Some people find it unusual how much time we spend together, but we're both single – who am I meant to spend my time with? I wish for everyone to have a friend like that in their life.

You recently travelled around Australia and Bali together for three weeks. Tell us about it…

Katya: We don't like the touristy type of things – we love to experience places how the locals would. We have friends in Western Australia which allowed us to see the local lifestyle. We went abseiling, went to the rainforest, and rode a motorbike thanks to Aimee's skill.

What we noticed a lot there is that people aren't on their phones much. They are looking at you, they see you, they hear you and are open and interact with you. Before you know it, you could be hanging out in someone's back garden. They're not in that rat race that we see in London a lot.

Aimee: So much of Australia is about human interaction, people, having coffees, walking, and that's something we really value in our friendship. If we go out for dinner, we'll sit there and chat. We won't sit there looking at our phones.

bike bali

Aimee and Katya on their Bali motorbike trip

Katya: We've got roles in our friendship. I do the research and planning and then Aimee gets a motorbike, and we ride for three hours to the other side of the island up the side of a volcano, like we did in Bali.

Aimee: It was the most savage adventure we've been through together. It was cold, rainy, extremely steep and we were the only tourists for about 20-30 miles. It was crazy. We were huddled together on that scooter.

Do you try out each other's sports and hobbies?

Aimee: Katya learnt how to snowboard, and I'm so proud. When people ask if she skis, she says, 'No I'm a snowboarder'. I'm like 'Go on my girl!' I'm so proud.

Katya: Aimee was working on Ski Sunday, so I went to Austria then Switzerland, which was awesome because it was my first time in a ski resort. It was brilliant to be there when Aimee was doing her thing, and we went to LAAX where she used to compete.

Meanwhile, my bum was black and blue and my knees were smashed from learning to snowboard, but I carried on. On day six, I was shattered. At one point I felt like I couldn't carry on, so Aimee put me on her shoulders and piggy backed me to the end.

Aimee: I'm quite solid, I'm not going to lie. I did used to throw myself off jumps for a living so you do have to be quite bulletproof.


Katya shares in Aimee's passion for snowboarding       Photo credit: Max Howard

Katya: I've heard a lot of stories from Aimee's previous life and it wasn't until I did it with her that I understood what she meant. It's gnarly, it's hard, it's freezing and you just get exhausted from the coldness of it and carrying this giant snowboard bag everywhere in those boots. As exciting as it might look, it takes a toll on your body. What Aimee's been doing for years deserves massive respect. It's very different physically from dancing.

Aimee: Katya is a creative genius when it’s comes to reusing and recycling literally anything; she’s taught me a lot about sustainability and shared her passion. From keep cups to making small changes with purchases in the supermarket, it’s made me more aware.

I also have a lot of clothes! When it comes to fashion, Katya’s passion for turning an old denim jacket into a statement piece from a charity shop is a gift in itself. She made me one! And then helped me make one for my mum for Mother’s Day. I love the thought behind it and personal details; I definitely look at my wardrobe a bit differently now.

What does the word 'happiness' mean to you?

Aimee: An abundance of love and sharing of positivity. I really believe happiness is something that's shared – it's like the combined energy of people around you and that's why friendship is so important. You're nothing on your own without people in your life. It's all about sharing experiences; it's not about sharing items or things that we own. For me, happiness if about sharing life with incredible people, and one of them if Katya.

Katya: We shouldn't seek happiness externally because that will never fulfill you. You need to be happy within yourself first to share that with others. When people say, 'Oh you're always so happy', I think it's because we share it with each other and others. Happiness comes in multiple shapes and forms.

Aimee: It's the simple things. Just being grateful for having legs and being able to walk. Waking up and having the opportunity to live another day, because not everyone has that. It's being grateful that we have the fortune to live and for the little things: a coffee with your friends, a little laugh, smiling at a stranger in the street. If you radiate happiness, then you'll receive it.

Aimee Fullers book fear less live more

Aimee Fuller's book Fear Less Live More is out now, £7.99, published by Hachette. Follow Aimee on Instagram and TwitterYou can follow Katya Jones on Instagram.

Watch Aimee and Katya on Celebrity Hunted SU2C, Tuesday 28 March at 9pm, Channel 4

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