DWTS winner Phil Burton on 'intense' transformation: 'Clothes are hanging off us'

EXCLUSIVE: Phil and dancing partner Ash-Leigh Hunter took out the mirror ball trophy on Sunday night.

Dancing With The Stars winner Phil Burton has revealed he and his fellow contestants and dancers all underwent an 'intense' transformation during their time on the show.

Speaking with Yahoo Lifestyle on Monday morning, Phil shared his excitement at taking home the mirror ball trophy with his dancing partner Ash-Leigh Hunter, after being tied at 39 points with Emily Weir and Lyu Masuda.

Dancing With The Stars winners Phil Burton and Ash-Leigh Hunter
Dancing With The Stars winner Phil Burton reveals the 'intense' transformation he and other contestants went through behind the scenes. Photo: Seven

'A complete shock'

Phil and Ash-Leigh won the competition after audience votes were added to the judges' score, with the Human Nature singer describing the win as a "complete shock".

"It's surreal still, actually, it's still very fresh," he tells us. "I've been sitting knowing for the last six or seven weeks that it was down to me and Emily, so just been wondering which one it was going to be.


"I'm kind of relieved that whole tension is over," Phil adds, joking, "It was like Chinese water torture, you know, just that slow burn for six weeks, I mean that was a positive sign as well though, knowing the worst I could do was come second. That was pretty good, and knowing we'd done all of the work and there was nothing we could do last night, we couldn't do anything to change the result."

Ash-Leigh is currently living in London and found out she and Phil had won over FaceTime, with the singer saying she was "in tears".

'Incredibly intense'

Phil and Ash-Leigh on DWTS
Phil and Ash-Leigh during week one of the competition. Photo: Seven

When asked about the preparation for the show, Phil shared that he was surprised to see that he and the other contestants all lost a lot of weight during the rehearsals.

"We did about five or six weeks of preparation, learning all the dances one by one as we went through," Phil explains. "It started off not too bad, maybe three hours a day, but by the end, it just built up and up and up. And so by the end we were doing six or seven hours of constant dancing a day."

He continues: "And you can really notice when you go back to the first pre-dance footage. You can see that Ash and I were both very round-faced and by the end, we both looked like racing greyhounds with just like stripped down, skinny cheeks and everything and the clothes are hanging of us. And it got more and more intense as it went on and I think it ended just at the right time. I don't think we could have – not just us – I don't think any of the competitors in the grand final could have gone on a day longer. We were all just absolutely exhausted."

Speaking about the astonishing weight loss across the board, Phil says: "Literally, you could see it, and not just me and Ash, but everyone, you could literally see people's weight just dropping and you could see the bags under the eyes getting bitter and walking around like zombies backstage. So you could really see it, it was so incredibly intense."

'An awkward spot'

Phil and Ash-Leigh were lucky not to get struck down with any serious injuries during rehearsals or performances, with Matt Preston having to leave the competition early due to an ankle injury. However, the singer did share that there was one awkward moment behind-the-scenes.

"The camera wasn't rolling, we didn't film ourselves at the moment when we were trying one of the lifts and her knee came up in an awkward spot on my body, that put me out of action on the floor for about five minutes, taking deep breaths," Phil says with a laugh.

He adds that while a few people did slip and fall, whether it was in front of the camera or not, the dancers just had to bounce back and get back to it.

"It's given me a new respect for pro dancers, they really are like elite athletes because they're always, always on some kind of injury," Phil explains. "They're always working through something that's wrong with their body and just trying to ignore it and get through the dance, so the punishment that they deal themselves is just kind of awe-inspiring really."

'People would be surprised'

Dancing With The Stars couples
Phil shares that despite it being a competition, there was a lot of camaraderie behind the scenes. Photo: Seven

Speaking about the atmosphere behind-the-scenes, Phil shares that people would likely be surprised to know that all the couples really got along, and it didn't feel like a competition.


"I hesitate to use the word competitors because we didn't feel like competitors backstage," he shares. "Every night before the show Kelley Abbey, the creative director, she'd get us all in the huddle, and she'd get us visualising being successful in our dance, but all of us together holding hands in a circle and just creating an amazing teamwork and knowing that the quality of the show trumped any kind of thing to do with who was going to win so or what points you would get, and I think people would be surprised at that.

"At just knowing that it was such a great team atmosphere backstage, there was no competition amongst us at all. It was all about let's put on a really great show for the viewers here and be really proud of what we're doing."

Never miss a thing. Sign up to Yahoo Lifestyle’s daily newsletter.

Or if you have a story idea, email us at lifestyle.tips@yahooinc.com.