Corona resident Shayla Hudson recently decided she needed to take off a few pounds. But she didn't go the traditional low-fat yogurt and join-a-gym weight loss route. Instead, she put on her dancing shoes and joined the cast of Oxygen television network's "Dance Your Ass Off."
The 10-week show followed 12 people as they competed to perform weekly dance routines with the goal of dancing off excess weight. The contestants were paired with a professional dance partner to learn the routines. Each week a panel of judges combined dancing ability and weight loss numbers for an overall score and the contestant with the lowest number was sent home.
Hudson is one of three remaining competitors who will vie for the $100,000 award in the finale episode Monday evening at 10. A reunion show will air in the same time slot Sept. 7.
Hudson lost more than 30 pounds during filming and has found a new passion for both dancing and fitness. Prior to the show, she tutored high school students for a living but now works as a dance instructor and weight-loss counselor at Premiere Talent Academy in Riverside and Sweat Cardio and Yoga in Temecula.
"The show has changed me quite a bit," Hudson said in a phone interview. "I wanted to continue to dance ... and I wanted to use the knowledge about dieting I had gained on the show."
During her high school years attending Santiago High School, Hudson was involved in a lot of sports.
"I played hockey, ran track, played soccer and was in cheerleading," she said. "I continued to play hockey well into my 20s."
Now 27, Hudson said one of her biggest obstacles during the show was old sports injuries.
"That first week, I thought I wasn't going to make it," she said. "My knees are bad, ankles too, and I have a bad shoulder. I sustained a lot of injuries over the years."
Another challenge for Hudson was being unable to communicate with friends or family during the show's filming.
"That was really, really hard, but it forced me to be self-reliant," she said. "One thing people watching the show might not understand is why all the contestants' emotions came out as much as they did.
"We all worked super hard and everybody was so dedicated to losing weight. When you're in a spot in your life that is so hard, the emotions are right on the surface. You're going to be really emotional."
But overall, the experience was wonderful.
"It's been an absolute blast. It was probably the best time of my life," Hudson said. "I feel like I've made lifelong friends."
"Dance Your Ass Off: The Final Weigh In"
10 p.m. Monday, Oxygen