Get Inspired: Goz and Ross take on dance (Strictly style)

By Ross FiddesBBC North
Goz and Ross take to the dance floor

Since starting our Get Inspired journey, I have been hoping to pull out dance as one of our challenges.

I've always quite enjoyed dancing and am often one of the first up on a dance floor, eager to bust a move. However, this dance challenge with Goz was our hardest one yet.

We met Paula and Gary from Strictly Wheels on the Monday and it wasn't long before they dropped the bombshell that they had booked us in to perform at a festival on the Friday. Talk about pressure!

I remained optimistic and genuinely thought I'd pick it up like a duck to water. Even after Paula and Gary had demonstrated the routine to us, I was fairly confident that I'd still be able to pull it off.

Unfortunately for me, this wasn't as easy as twerking to Miley or 'dropping' to Flo Rida - this was about specific movements to a specific beat and it all had to be in sync with Goz too.

Ross and Goz watch the professionals

I soon learnt that Latin dance is about small, perfected moves such as side steps, turns, feet taps, hand gestures and facial expressions. This is all whilst trying to count to the beat in your head and remembering what the next move is.

Weirdly, despite this being a fairly basic routine with a limited amount of movement, I could still feel the physical effect of it by the end. The back of my calves is where I felt it the most.

The hardest thing for me was the mental aspect of dance and I genuinely felt mentally drained by the end of our first rehearsal. Even for a basic routine, there is just so much to remember and it takes a great deal of concentration to stay on top of things.

During our second rehearsal, things didn't improve much and I felt like I was getting a glimpse into what life is like on Strictly and it's fair to say that I have a new found respect for the show, and it's participants!

Ross and Goz rehearse with the professional dancers

When it came to combining our routines together, this opened up a whole new set of challenges for us as it is not easy performing in a disabled/non-disabled duo. You have to accommodate space (and time) for a wheelchair and I was worried about crashing into Goz and being 'run over' by her chair.

Unlike our other challenges, we absolutely had to work together on this one and it was really important that we both mastered the routine together.

On the morning of our performance, I genuinely felt a bit sick with nerves and I really wasn't looking forward to it.

As soon as 'Livin la Vida Loca' kicked in, there was no going back, but thankfully the crowd were very supportive and we got through it, just about!

It's clear that we are no professionals and I certainly wouldn't expect a 'SEVERN' from Len, but I think we enjoyed our performance in the end. I certainly had a sense of achievement and was proud for giving it a go.

It's safe to say that out of all the activities we've taken on, dance is the one where I felt the most exhausted afterwards purely due to the mental endurance that is required.

Goz and Ross performing in front of a crowd indoors

I'm not sure if it was the stress of the competition that lessened my enthusiasm for dance or if it was the Latin routine itself (I think if it had been a more contemporary routine without a live performance I would have enjoyed it much more). Either way, I've decided that this isn't necessarily for me.

If you're interested in giving it a go, make sure that you persevere. Personally, I was really relieved to get it over with and a little disappointed that I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped.

Strictly stars- I salute you.

Goz's view

What can I say about dance? It is no secret that I wasn't looking forward to this challenge.

It's not that I don't like dancing - I would probably be the last to leave the dance floor on a night out - but proscribed dancing brings back nightmares of being taught really bad wheelchair dancing at school and thinking 'This is not cool, get me out of here!'

Saying all that, I did go into this challenge with an open mind...until I heard we only had five days to learn it and perform it to a crowd…what did we let ourselves in for!

The more I got into the dancing, the more I was starting to have fun with it and really started to enjoy it. There was one part of the dance I had to push 'sexy'. 'Give me your sexy push!' Paula shouts to me - as a self-proclaimed tomboy this did not come naturally to me.

Compared to some of the other activities, I didn't feel like I had been through a workout after dancing (not like I did when I played Wheelchair Rugby which was relentless from the moment I got on the court).

What did puffed me out was trying to keep up with Ross as if we were one on the dance floor. I found this hard, particularly with the mental challenge of trying to learn the moves.

Goz being guided through moves by an instructor

As we walked through the festival and saw how big the event was, it hit me that this was a big deal.

The crowd were brilliant, they really got into it and kept me going. I loved being on the stage and once it was over; I wanted to do it again because it didn't feel real.

I have never done a physical activity where you have to work with another person so closely that you really have to get on well and want to succeed!

The whole thing was a great experience and I'd recommend anybody to give it a go. It is a lot of fun and a bit of a mental challenge as well.

I would love to do this again, so does anybody want to be my dance partner?

If you are interested in getting into dance, take a look at the Get Inspired dance activity guide for different styles and ways in.