Before the “Dawson’s Creek” alum competed on the reality show’s 28th season, he was already in great shape thanks to tri-weekly Thai boxing lessons. But when he swapped the ring for the ballroom, the cross training visibly paid off.
“Fight training vs. dancing…” he captioned side-by-side shirtless selfies of his pre- and post-“DWTS” body. While James’ before photo was impressive, it’s clear that his time on the dance floor got him leaner and made his muscles more defined.
“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 wrote.
James’ transformation made an impression on his dance partner, Emma Slater.
“Both cut but you can see dancing really defines everything. Especially when you worked as hard as you did!” she commented on his post. “In every way you are a huge advocate for dance @vanderjames!!!”
James was a fan favorite throughout his time on “DWTS” and finished the season in fifth place, falling just short of finale night. His exit was an emotional one: on the same day that he was eliminated, the “Don’t Trust the B–– in Apartment 23” alum revealed that his wife Kimberly had suffered a miscarriage.
Following his exit, James soaked in quality time with his family, who kept his spirits high and reminded him how well he’d performed. In a video he recorded on the night he left the show, his daughter adorably urged him to be confident in his new skill set.
“Daddy! What did I say? I said, you should watch yourself, how good your dancing was,” she argued, leading him to the TV. “Now, come on! Let’s watch your dancing.”