Dancing with the Olympians appears to be a more accurate name

The popular show Dancing With the Stars pits B-list celebrities with professional dancers in an exciting dance contest of skill and grace. People we adore from a wide variety of professions practice for hours each week to so we can watch them foxtrot, tango, and samba toward the finale. However, the past eight seasons have shown athletes dominating the competition, with three former Olympians taking home the gold and three other winners being former athletes of sorts. So in a show about being creative and showy, why do athletes dominate the competition?

When one first thinks of dancing, one does not immediately compare the activity to exercise. But dancing is all about movement and body expression, kind of like a nonstop aerobic workout class. Preparation for any sport requires them to be stronger, faster, and more agile than the average person, especially if they are at the Olympic or world level. They train their bodies to last longer in competition so they can make the most out of those exhausting daily practices. Shawn Johnson, who won season eight, was an Olympic gymnast. Her superior flexibility, strength, and body control would make her an optimal candidate to quickly learn new dance moves each week and endure long hours of practice. Fourth season winner Apolo Anton Ohno was a former Winter Olympics speed skating champion with five medals on his belt. To be at the top of his sport, he would need incredible balance and agility.

In the fifth season, champion car racer Hélio Castroneves took home the gold. Already, he would have excellent motor skills, coordination, and focus. Also, in what would seem like the most obvious win, the sixth season saw Olympic medalist and world-renowned figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi breeze through the competition to win. Also, we can’t forget former NFL Dallas Cowboy and Arizona Cardinal runningback Emmitt Smith, who scored a touchdown in the final show of season three.

Seasoned athletes are also very strong mentally. Winning requires determination and a high level of concentration. In practice, athletes train to win and constantly push themselves to do better each time. Their routines must be regular and intense; otherwise they will never improve. Luckily for DWTS’s Olympians, these mental skill sets can be applied to dancing, which may be why every Olympian on the show has taken home the trophy.

Despite their training in different sports, what most of the winners of Dancing With the Stars have in common is that they compete on a regular basis, and are trained to pull out a win in the most stressful of situations. Dancing also gives athletes new challenges that cater to their abilities. During sports, many situations arise where athletes have to get creative and find unusual ways to win. Each of their added physical advantages just made them stronger competitors on the show. As Ohno reassured Johnson during week 11, “You bring a total different mentality from the Olympic games, and being a competitor [and having skills] that nobody else possesses. That’s what’s going to give you an edge over the competition.”

Dancing with the Stars seems to be a contest of athletics and style. Since the professional dancers supply the style part, any competitor who has a strong athletic background seems to be the obvious choice for succeeding. That is another reason why one can’t go wrong by becoming an athlete; skills gained from training and competition alone can help in ways one cannot have possibly imagined. I’m sorry, actors and models. Looking pretty just won’t cut it for an activity that is mainly movement. Dancing, like any other sport, requires practice, flexibility, and stamina. Perhaps why so many Olympians join the show is because the training, practice, and learning new ways to move and control their bodies can carry back over to their original sport. Finally, three-time gold medalist swimmer Natalie Coughlin will be competing on this season’s DWTS to bring the total Olympian count up to three.