When I agreed to take an exercise class on a Sunday morning in Los Angeles with Jenna Dewan-Tatum, I admit it was a momentary lapse in judgment. For those not familiar with her, Dewan-Tatum—wife of the millennial sex symbol, actor Channing Tatum—spent the years preceding her acting career as a professional backup dancer. She grew up in Grapevine, Texas before heading to the West Coast to attend the University of Southern California. It was there that she was discovered by a dance agent, catapulting her childhood passion into a successful career.

During her early 20’s, Dewan-Tatum toured with the likes Janet Jackson, *N Sync and Puff Daddy before eventually landed a breakout role in the 2006 romantic dance film Step Up, where she starred opposite her now-husband. The two married three years after meeting on set and had their first child, Everly, in May of 2013.

The information about her professional dancer pedigree had apparently escaped me when I consented to the class, and before I knew it I was strapping on cycling shoes at a West Hollywood spin studio. I barely recognized Dewan-Tatum when she settled into the seat next to me, her natural olive complexion unburdened by heavy on-screen makeup and the smoky eyes she sports at award shows. “I almost made us go to a dance class, but everybody I bring gets so nervous,” she says. Given her A-list status, her perfect post-baby body and the fact that she’s married to People’s 2012 Sexiest Man Alive, there’s something refreshingly real about her. “This spin class is just as hard as a dance class but it’s quicker,” she says. “With the baby, it’s all about how I can maximize my time.”

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