For some, Dancing With the Stars is a way to reclaim fame they once had or prolong their 15 seconds. For others, it’s a life-changing experience and a chance to recapture a love of performing, and that’s exactly it was for James Van Der Beek.
The Pose star, who was eliminated in the penultimate episode of Season 28, took to Instagram to post before-and-after shirtless selfies of what he looked like before he started dancing compared to what he looked like a week after wrapping up his time on the show. But it’s not like James went into the dance competition show in bad shape. On the contrary, Van Der Beek revealed he had been training in Muay Thai boxing six months prior to starting on Dancing With the Stars, so the combat sport already had him in fighting form. But dancing did an entirely different thing to his body and let’s just say, they were good things.
“Fight training vs. dancing,” began Van Der Beek’s caption. “I’d been training in Muay Thai three days a week for about six months (for the next project I’m writing) when I hit pause to dance six hours a day. Now I can rhumba.” He capped off his post with a dancing dude emoji. But you may have been too distracted by the side-by-side photos of his pre-DWTS abs and his post-DWTS abs to even notice his words.
His partner, Emma Slater, couldn’t be prouder. “Both cut but you can see dancing really defines everything,” she wrote in the comments. “Especially when you worked as hard as you did! In every way you are a huge advocate for dance @vanderjames!!!”
On the first episode of the season, we learned that before Dawson’s Creek made him a household name, Van Der Beek actually got his start on stage and appeared in several off-Broadway and other live productions. He was an early front-runner, impressing the judges, week after week. He already had fans but he was gaining more with his enthusiasm and passion and he was truly magical to watch.
But then the unthinkable happened: he was eliminated. But it wasn’t his elimination that was heartbreaking. It’s that in the video leading up to his performance, he revealed that his wife, Kimberly Van Der Beek, who had been pregnant with their sixth child, actually suffered a miscarriage a few days earlier.
It was down to James and Emma and Ally Brooke and Sasha Farber when the judges had to vote to keep one and oust the other. They ended up keeping Ally, who went on to finish in third place. The former Fifth Harmony member tried to give up her spot in the finale to James but was told that’s not how the show works and contestants aren’t allowed to hand over his or her place in the competition to a fellow competitor.
The Bachelorette star Hannah Brown and her partner Alan Bersten won the season with actor-comedian Kel Mitchell and Witney Carson coming in second. Brooke and Farber wound up in third while country star Lauren Alaina and Gleb Savchenko finished in fourth. But we think it’s safe to say James won too.
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This was @vanderkimberly’s favorite dance, and the one I would’ve repeated tonight. A few weeks into the show, @theemmaslater let slip under her breath that she hoped we wouldn’t get samba because it was the hardest. Guess what we got next… And while Emma tried backing off that statement to create positive learning environment… she hadn’t been lying – it was the hardest. And once I FINALLY broke through (the morning before the show)… it became the most fun. Yet another life lesson reinforced for me at 42 on this crazy reality show dance competition 🤗 If you’re feeling too old to pick up a new skill you always wished you had… f*cking go for it. #LightItUp