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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 13:14 EDT

Shape Up: Strictly Come Dieting ; STARS DANCE AWAY THE POUNDS By CLARE GOLDWIN

November 29, 2004

FORGET unflattering cycling shorts and smelly trainers. The latest must-have fitness wear is a pair of gold sandals and flouncy, sequined dress.

Ballroom dancing used to be associated with dusty halls and pensioners’ tea dances, but thanks to Strictly Come Dancing it’s now the fitness craze sweeping the country.

As the 10 celebrity contenders on the BBC1′s prime-time show have been discovering, jiving and tango are a great way to shape up.

They have lost a staggering 50lbs between them and toned up into the bargain.

Singer Aled Jones has lost the most weight, 1st 2lbs, while TV presenter Esther Rantzen shed 12lbs.

And while many would say Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis already has the perfect body, she says she loves the way ballroom dancing has shaped her legs.

Here’s how the celebs have shaped up this time around.

SARAH MANNERS

SHE’S slim, beautiful and one of FHM’s Hot Sexiest Women, so Casualty actress Sarah, 29, didn’t need to drop any weight. But by the time she left she was toned and feeling more gllamorous.

DIARMUID GAVIN

HE was panned by the judges but Diarmuid, 40, says: “It has been the most fantastic experience I’ve ever had.” While he may have lacked natural talent, he was praised for his hard work and is rumoured to have lost about 5lbs as well as inches off his tum.

ROGER BLACK

THE Atlanta Olympic 400 metres silver medallist still keeps himself in shape. But even sports presenter Roger, 38, was 5lbs lighter by the time he was kicked off Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday night.

“I have really toned up,” he says. “When I was learning to do the jive I was sweating buckets. And learning the steps has improved my co-ordination.”

JULIAN CLARY

COMEDIAN Julian, 45, has impressed the judges with his hidden dancing skills.

And over the two months of training and competing, viewers have watched his face slim down and his bottom tone up.

He appears to have lost at least 2lbs since he started working out for the show.

ESTHER RANTZEN

SHE made it to the third week, and the 64-year-old former That’s Life presenter estimates she lost 10-12lbs, 4ins off her waist… and a decade.

“My children tell me I’ve lost 10 years, simply by correcting my posture,” she says. “My neck lengthened, my back straightened. Before I started I was developing a hump.” Plus she feels rejuvenated by the intensive dance lessons.

QUENTIN WILLSON

THE least talented dancer among the celebrities, he still boosted his fitness and, thanks to 56 hours of training, he managed to shift 7lbs and lose two inches from his waist.

JILL HALFPENNY

SHE doesn’t weigh herself, but the hot favourite to win Strictly Come Dancing reckons she’s dropped around 3lbs already because her clothes feel more roomy.

EastEnders actress Jill, 29, had never tried ballroom dancing before but says it’s the best workout she’s ever had. “It’s a bit of everything,” she says. “It helps your posture and is a great stress- reliever. You can dance for hours and it doesn’t feel like it. My whole body is more toned.”

ALED JONES

HIS dancing partner Lilia Kopyova nicknamed him Five Bellies and called him Shrek. But now the 33-year-old singer, who shot to fame as the 80s choirboy star of The Snowman song, is having the last laugh.

He’s down to the final five pairs and is looking noticeably more svelte.

“The weight has just been falling off me,” Aled says. “I’ve got a 31ins waist and loads of upper body strength. The costume-fitter has got fed up with taking my outfits in.

“I’m just solid muscle now – a totally different shape to what I was a few weeks ago.

“I’ve always enjoyed sport and played football and tennis. But ballroom dancing is a completely different type of fitness. The training was incredibly tough, but I’ve been enjoying it loads. It’s so much fun.”

CAROL VORDERMAN

SHE left with a torn cartilage after attempting the rumba, but not before Carol, 43, had thrown poses that would challenge a woman half her age. Despite the injury, her flexibility and fitness levels are reported to have improved.

DENISE LEWIS

SHE’S one of the favourites, and with her honed physique you’d think the Olympic gold medallist couldn’t improve on her appearance. But even Denise, 32, has noticed impressive results to her legs.

“I haven’t lost weight,” she says. “But all the bending and stretching and the quick foot movements have intensively worked my legs and calves. They feel really toned. I have always wanted to be a dancer.”