"I want to keep pushing myself. I want to keep learning. I want to keep growing," says Hough, who began his professional training at the age of 12 at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, England, with Mark Ballas' parents, Corky and Shirley. He's spent nearly half his life dancing professionally, being linked to DWTS since 2007. In recent years, he's expanded beyond dancing by acting on shows like Jane the Virgin and Nashville and playing Corny Collins in NBC's live broadcast of Hairspray. He was even a brief HGTV star, flipping a house with Mark Ballas on Mark & Derek's Excellent Flip. "I feel like if I'm learning, getting stronger, doing things I haven't done in the past, learning different skills -- like learning how to tap, for instance, or body percussion -- whatever it might be, I want to do it."
While joking that he was "a little sore" from our outdoor excursion, Hough says that the secret to an enduring career as a dancer is as simple as taking care of yourself. "As a dancer, [age] is something you have to be aware of. I think that can be a misconception, too, though, honestly," he says. "In the sense that people go, 'Oh, I'm getting older, I'm just naturally going to get more tired, I'm going to have less energy during the day, I'm going to be sore more often.' And it's like, 'Yeah, if you don't do anything to take care of yourself.'"
In fact, Hough revealed that he hopes to like to be like those "90-year-old women" who compete in Ironman competitions someday, similar to what Sister Madonna Buder does now. "I don't ever want to surrender to that and be like, 'Oh, I think I'm done now,'" he explains. "There's still plenty of dancing to come, for sure. That's part of who I am. It will never go away."