Julianne Hough has a body that makes even the fittest of us envious — her recent topless birthday selfie revealed that she’s in better shape than ever. But the 29-year-old dancing queen, who has never been shy about sharing how hard she works to keep fit, admits that following her July wedding to Canadian hockey player Brooks Laich, she took a little time to slack off.
“I ate and drank everything in sight,” Hough tells Yahoo of her recent Africa honeymoon. But that only lasted so long. “Brooks and I love to be active, and working out for us is fun, so we definitely were ready to get back to our routine. We were definitely antsy. We were like, ‘We have to go do something active!'”
Working out in the middle of the Maasai Mara game park with lions and wildebeest running around wasn’t easy, but the couple found their own ways to burn calories. When asked what those were, Hough playfully says, “I don’t know.” She winks and adds, “Well, you can only imagine,” implying that she and Laich spent a lot of time on their honeymoon doing what newlyweds do.
The honeymoon wasn’t all relaxing though. The Dancing With the Stars judge says that in addition to being frightened by a purring elephant, there was another alarming incident that went down in Kenya. “We were charged by a rhino,” she reveals. “It was another truck’s fault, but they came behind us. I slid from one side of the truck to the other side so quickly.”
The star credits her surviving the incident to her ability to connect with the fellow female. “It was from the mama rhino, Mary, so I was like, ‘If I’m going to be charged by anyone, I’m glad it was Mary. She’s the bomb. She’s awesome,’” says Hough. “I think she was just like, ‘Hey, you are in our space.’ She charged but she stopped. I’d like to say we had a connection eye to eye, and she was like, ‘I don’t want to hurt you.'”
It’s a memory that the couple will never forget. “Brooks was taking photos, so he got the whole experience — from before she charged, while she was charging, and then when she stopped,” Hough says. “The pictures are insane. They are amazing!”
Hough adds that during her trip, the African grassland taught her one valuable lesson. “What I really learned is the women rule the world basically,” Hough says smiling. “The Maasai women are incredible. They are warriors. They do everything. … You always see the lionesses and they are the ones doing everything. So what I learned is females rock basically.”
And, yes, she made a point of relaying that message to Laich. “Oh, yeah. He saw. He got it. He already knows,” she jokes.
Married life is treating Hough well. The new bride and her hunky better half arrived hand in hand Tuesday evening for a private dinner hosted by Harper’s Bazaar and Sephora in honor of Hough’s BFF Nina Dobrev guest editing the new issue of harper by Harper’s Bazaar. While greeting attendees, who included her brother Derek Hough, as well as Jessica Szohr and Victoria Justice, the blond beauty was eager to rave about her post-wedding life.
“It really does feel different,” she says. “We just feel so much more whole. It’s such a milestone. There’s always been that, ‘What’s next, what’s next, what’s next mentality, and now I’m sort of like, ‘I can just chill now. There’s no anticipation of the next milestone. We’re now just enjoying life.”
Now that the wedding is over, Hough is eager to turn her focus back to her career. “I’m kind of just taking my time to really figure out what I’m doing. I feel like this is a new chapter of my life personally, but also professionally. I want to get back to my acting and focus on that,” says the Footloose star.
And, of course, the jet-setter, who recently returned from Alaska, where she vacationed post-honeymoon with her high school besties, is already planning her return trip to Africa.
“That’s what we talked about on our honeymoon,” Hough reveals. “We fell in love with Africa. You feel so disconnected over there, but then so connected to what really matters. Everything kind of slows down and you can’t help but be so grateful for the earth and where we live. We did Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa last year. We visited Kenya this year. And now we are already figuring out where in Africa we are going next.”
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