Strictly’s Neil Jones opens up on lengthy health battle ‘Touch wood it doesnt get worse

Strictly: Nina Wadia mimics Neil Jones during training

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The Strictly Come Dancing final will air on Saturday night and will see Rose Ayling-Ellis, John Whaite and AJ Odudu battle it out in a bid to lift the Glitterball Trophy. The current series has not disappointed fans and has seen the likes of Tilly Ramsay, Nina Wadia and Katie McGlynn take part in the BBC competition.

Professional dancer Neil Jones, who has been a staple on the show since 2016, was partnered up with former EastEnders star Nina.

However, things didn’t go to plan for the couple, as they were the first duo to be eliminated from the competition.

In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Neil opened up about his health battle, which luckily so far, hasn’t stopped him from dancing.

The star admitted he has had to manage having a hernia for eight years.

“Luckily for me, it has never torn,” the professional dancer began. “It just makes your abdominal muscle a little bit weaker. 

“Which I have to kind of pay attention to, touch wood it doesn’t get worse, but it’s been okay. 

“I know how to manage it. It’s one of those things that also with age you just realise that you’re constantly monitoring your body. 

“You’re doing as much as you can, changing what you eat, trying to stay mobile and active and that’s what I do.”

“With all these things I never worried because anything can happen,” he added.

Discussing his brief stint with Nina on the show, Neil admitted he was “gutted” to leave so soon.

The 31-year-old continued: “It’s one of those things. It’s part of the show that somebody has to go home.

“I had the great run with Alex Scott when we went to the quarter-finals. But this year, we were the first couple out.”

 “But I enjoyed the short time I had with Nina,” Neil said. “I was dancing with her again as we get ready for the final.

“And so, for me, it’s part of the show. So, it’s okay, that’s how it is.

“I was gutted for Nina because I thought it would be nice if she could do a few more dances.”

Neil, who rose to stardom on Strictly, went on to recall how he became homeless when he finished school.

In a bid to raise awareness and to share his own experience, Neil has teamed up with the National Lottery-funded homeless project.

The dance pro explained he moved to Finland when he finished school which is where he trained to dance.

Neil went on to add that most of the dancers in Finland were living in Helsinki, which is where he wanted to be.

However, things took a turn when Neil found himself sleeping rough on the streets.

“So, in Helsinki, I was sleeping on sofas of friends or on the floor and it got to one point after dancing one competition that I asked one of the friends if I could stay, but it wasn’t possible,” Neil recalled.

Although, when Neil’s backup accommodation fell through, he ended up sleeping outside.

He added: “I’d already been out on the park bench, and I could feel how cold it was getting. And then I was like I wouldn’t survive the night if I stayed outside.”

Luckily for the dancer, with the help of friends, he managed to get himself into a shelter after sleeping in the dance studio.

Strictly Come Dancing final airs on Saturday at 7pm on BBC One.

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