Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Hi everyone!

I'm back! Hope you all had a great "off-season," so to speak.

Mine was fantastic and very productive. I did the Men's Fitness cover, which I must say is the highlight of my entertainment career so far. When I got the call to do it, I thought it was a joke. It was something I always wanted to do because I love the magazine and what it represents, and I always wanted to see a dancer on the cover. That validates everything that we do; all the training and hours and the regimen are no different from what any other athlete does.

Besides that, we're in the process of opening a new dance studio in Connecticut. My next goal is to open one in L.A which has become my second home. I think we should start working on that one within the next month.

When I'm not on the show, I'm all over the place, but I also found some time to relax. My family and I spent the holidays in St. Maarten. It's where we go now on New Year's. Spending the holidays between that and St. Bart's is blissful. I hope you all will have the chance to visit them because it's truly amazing there.

And now we're back for another season of Dancing with the Stars. What is it now? Season 39? 47? I love coming back to Dancing after a few months off. With every passing year, I no longer feel like the show is all that I am, I feel like it's part of what I do. It's really refreshing to step away from it for a few months, do you own thing and then return. It's become something I can happily come back to instead of feeling like that's all I got.

I'm really excited about this season. I think the audience is going to be able to connect with all of the people on the cast. There is a little something for everyone. For example — there's going be a ton of press about this — I've never seen Little House on the Prairie, but I grew up with Family Matters. I think something like this will be true for a lot of people. People are going try to classify everyone, but the cast is full of so many different people — you have Roshon from Disney, obviously Jack Wagner has his slew of followers and Maria, who's the "sexy one." But I think Melissa and I are pretty sexy too!

I'm having such a fantastic time with Melissa. She's a great person with such a great personality. It's always tough for me every season to try to describe my relationships with my partners. How many synonyms can you come up to describe how great someone is without offending someone from the past and without sounding like you're not being genuine? Melissa's amazing, but it doesn't mean she's any less amazing than Kirstie or Hope or Erin or Mel B. or Tia or Denise. They're all amazing in their own way. Yet again, I think I lucked out with someone I love spending time with. Melissa's very cool and very intelligent. She has an amazing sense of humor. She can dish it out and she can take it, which I love. We're on the same page in our banter in how we speak and how we communicate and she does not get offended. She understands everything I say and how I say it. It's gotten to the point that sometimes I'm cautious. I'm thinking like, "Is she that strong of a person that she kinds of holds it in? Am I gonna get slapped in a second?" But she's that strong. She is very respectful to me and I have the utmost respect for her.

Rehearsals are going really well. We have the cha-cha for the first week and then the quickstep. Melissa said she danced ballet back in the day. She showed me videos of her dad dancing. He was amazing. We're talking Gene Kelly- and Fred Astaire-kind of amazing. So she has that type of thing in her veins. Obviously, the cha-cha is freakin' strange to anybody. There are certainly elements to ballroom that make it hard. But to be honest, we're way past looking and going, "This one has dance experience." As we see every season, having dance experience or ability doesn't mean you win. Look at Kristin Cavallari last season, she was great and got eliminated early. I just hope everybody is going to be entertained.

Right now, Melissa and I are just kind of brushing things up. We've already got the routines done and there's nothing more that we can do before Monday. Melissa has to experience Monday night and the nature of the beast. And then we go from there. She understands that too. We're very cool together. I don't need to say a lot for her to get it. I try to find ways to motivate. I tell her, "I want you to compete with these young girls." She understands that it's not a derogatory statement. She knows that I want her to be amazing just in general.
I'm very happy Val is back too. We haven't gotten to see each other a lot because he and Sherri are in New York. I think they're going to be great. I've known Sherri for a long time and her personality is incredible. Val was very excited when he found out he got her as his partner. There have been rumors that Sherri's taken lessons with me and Val before, which I want to say is not true. I will say that Sherri loves dancing  and she's come to a couple of our social events. I don't want to get too into this, but my studio doors are open to anybody. However, given mine and Val's backgrounds, we have a very strict, non-disclosure policy. Anybody coming in — I want them to feel comfortable and not like anyone's going to gossip about them. And that's all I will say about that.  I'm just very excited for Val because I think he has the opportunity to go far this season with Sherri. I want him to go far. He needs to feel what it's like to be one of the top contenders and I think that can happen this year.

What else is there to tell you? Everything is going well. Family's good, my jewelry line's doing well, I got to choreograph a commercial for Propel Water, hosted season two of The Cube in the Ukraine and lots of other stuff I'll tell you about in the coming weeks.  I'm having a lot of fun and trying to capitalize on all these new opportunities as much as possible.  At the same time, I'm not just going to say yes to everything, but life's great right now.

That's all for now. Hope you watch Dancing with the Stars on Monday!