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STRICTLY Dance Diaries Week 6

JoWeekOne1This week Jo swaps sequins for marigolds as she tried out a new Strictly spin-off, suitable for the kitchen. But don’t worry – she’s still got her dancing shoes on.

In its 11 years on our TV screens, and growing in popularity every year, Strictly has led to the creation of many a spin-off. There’s the post show Live Tour (been to at least five), Strictly annuals (got three), Warner Hotel weekends learning to dance with some Strictly stars, Strictly themed P&O cruises with Craig and various pros, autobiographies from judges Len (loved it), Bruno and Craig (want them both) and a new fitness craze, FitSteps, created by Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe (watch this space for more on that in three weeks’ time). And that’s only the half of it. Most pros, if they’re not involved with the official Strictly tour, have their own touring shows – my hospital stay earlier this year prevented me seeing Pasha in action, but so far I’ve crossed off Brendan (those hips), Anton and Erin (ballroom glory) and Vincent and Flavia (tango genius).

Brendan's hips with their partner Sophie Ellis-Bexter on Saturday night
Brendan and his hips with partner Sophie Ellis-Bexter on Saturday night

But, this weekend, a spin-off of sorts happened that, in years gone by, I never could have imagined. Gav headed off to the opening two matches of the Rugby League World Cup at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Absolutely no shock in him going to rugby league matches, but plenty in the fact that he was gloating he’d be seeing former Strictly pros Erin Boag and Camilla Dallerup dance in the Opening Ceremony. Erin (hot on the news of her first pregnancy and lots of morning sickness with it) and Camilla were performing a jive with their former celeb partners, rugby league star Martin ‘Chariots’ Offiah and Gethin Jones. Gav’s worlds of sport and dance were coming together and he was loving it.

Come Saturday afternoon when I thought he’d be admiring Camilla’s fancy footwork (it turned out he missed their performance by seconds due to horrendous traffic on the M4) I was practising some fancy footwork of my own, courtesy of Camilla. Before I settled down for Strictly Come Dancing, I got down to some Strictly Come Mopping. Yes, you read that right. A spin-off that, I have to admit, surprised even me!

When I told Gav I’d been sent a mop to learn Camilla’s Strictly Come Mopping routine, his first reaction was amazement at a mop that could play a tune and dance. Seriously.  Vileda are renowned for their mops, but that nifty creation is one that’s yet to be patented (as far as I know!)

No, Camilla and Vileda have come together to create a dance routine that we can all learn to do while we mop our kitchen floor. See the video here.  Fanatic that I am (of dancing, not cleaning), I had to give it a go. And considering the recent BMC Public Health Study has reported that ‘housework is not strenuous enough for exercise targets’, it seemed only appropriate to cha-cha-challenge myself to up the ante a little with my chores.

Natalie Gumede during her Qucikstep routine last week
Natalie Gumede during her quickstep routine, once her cane has been discarded

So, take a glimpse of Camilla’s expert tuition, followed by my somewhat fumbling attempts! Maxine will be appalled I fear, but my argument? Unlike Natalie Gumede (who so expertly spun her cane during her quickstep)  I clearly need more practice with props! In fact, cleaning props have even been used on the show. Artem got his partner last year, TV presenter Fern Britton, starting their salsa routine dressed in a house coat and tickling Craig’s nose with a bright pink feather duster (it is Strictly, for heaven’s sake) before flashing her sexy salsa costume to the judges! Sadly, this turned out to be her exit dance, despite provoking a Bruno classic: ‘From casual duster to saucy scrumpet.’ His comment for me, perhaps… ‘from menial mopper to mediocre mover’…

According to Camilla, ten minutes of dancing and mopping can burn around 100 calories, as well as toning your arms, legs and bottom.


‘Lunging across the floor with a mop is a great way to keep your bottom pert,’ said Camilla.

Given to Jo by a close friend and fellow Strictly fan, Jo has this pride of place in her kitchen

Yes, Gav and I were having a bit of fun with our video clip (I really don’t dress in marigolds and Latin dance shoes every Sunday morning) but, being serious for a minute, think about when you’re cleaning your house. I’d bet money on you putting on music with a good beat that makes you smile, and then stretching up as you wipe a high shelf, bending as you vacuum, even doing a little shimmy as you dust. And if you’re thinking, “No, she’s on her own with that,” then here’s my tip of the week: give it a go. It makes a tedious job far more enjoyable. And take Camilla’s advice: Dance like nobody’s watching.

If you can manage to turn your cleaning regime into something that ‘makes you breathe harder, feel warmer and makes your heart beat faster than usual’, then, according to Chris Allen from the British Heart Foundation, you can call it exercise.

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