For Ukrainian-American Latin-ballroom champion “Maks” Chmerkovskiy, eating right and staying in shape is a way of life. Best known as one of the longtime pros on the hit series “Dancing with the Stars,” the 36-year-old soon-to-be dad is committed to doing all he can to keep his heart in excellent condition. He encourages others to follow his lead.

CLOSE TO HEART: As a dancer, Maksim knows the importance of a healthy lifestyle. For others, he advises that a long life is governed by a nutritious life, and pushes for healthier options that look toward the future. Photos: Benjo Arwas

Unlearning bad habits

“The fast-food industry played a huge role in us becoming way more unhealthy than we used to be. I think in the last five years or so, we've started to slowly come out of it. I have pushed my family to clean up their lifestyles, and I started educating myself about the building blocks of good nutrition.

“People eat nowadays because it tastes good. They should eat because it's what their bodies require.”

Chmerkovskiy, whose grandmother had a farm providing lots of fresh options, believes “picking your own food from the ground is probably the key to living a long and healthy life.”

Getting physical

Having danced since the age of four, Chmerkovskiy grew up in a family that stressed physical activity.

“I would go from school to dance to swimming to mathematics classes. There was basketball, soccer, anything that required running, throwing or crossing the finish line.

“We are not the people we used to be hundreds of years ago, running around with all sorts of physical activity. We sit and think, which is great, but we can't maintain our bodies the way they were meant to be without the right type of nutrition.”

CORE THINKING: A healthier life starts with you. Giving value to the foods you're ingesting, focusing on nutrition and what the body genuinely requires is what will keep you moving down the line.

Doing your homework

“You have to know where you come from, and what your genetic background is,” says Chmerkovskiy, who avoids sugars, breads, mass-produced meats and soft drinks, but stays close to healthy vitamins and supplements. “For me, I start with Lypo-SphericTM supplements as a main component to my daily health. I also don't understand the excuse of not having enough time to eat correctly. You value your time because of your job, but you don't value your personal longevity?”

“Basically, you're not prioritizing your future,” says Chmerkovskiy. “You don't understand in ten years you're going to be spending most of your money on health-related things.”

Advice to others

“My number one [piece of] advice is to be educated. And fast food or anything made by a machine is going to hurt you in the long run.

Chmerkovskiy adds, “Begin with something small. I started with vitamins because they are the least complicated in taking. Specifically, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help me stay healthy. I'm a regular person, but I'm passionate about all of this.”