Celebrities and contestants begin their Strictly Northampton journey

The scale of the task ahead for the Strictly Northampton 2012 contestants hit home at their first training session.

The novices were brought together at the Step By Step Dance School studio in Henry Street, Northampton, with many realising after the first three hours work how tough it will be.

Jessica Pilkington, fund development manager at the Northamptonshire Community Foundation, said: “There were a lot of hot bodies in that studio with sweat dripping off them. It was a lot more physical than I think most of us were expecting.

“By the end of it we had all managed to string a few moves together so there are some encouraging signs.

“I’m exhausted and I have blisters, but it was very good fun.

The novices met with their professional partners for the first time at the session.

Contestants include BBC weather girl Laura Tobin; manager of Outcast Hair Salon, Vicky Panting; owner of Fong Spa Beauty, Yin Jeune; leader of Northampton Borough Council, David Mackintosh; dog trainer, Graeme “The Dogfather” Hall; Royal & Derngate operations manager, Richard Clinton; assistant chief constable at Northamptonshire Police, Andy Frost; headteacher at Lings School, Leigh Wolmarans; founder of Far Cotton Amateur Boxing Club, John Daly; Old Northamptonians Rugby Club player, Edward St John Smythe; BBC Radio Northampton presenter, Stuart Linnell; and Barclaycard employee, Gary McMahon.

Councillor Mackintosh said: “Unfortunately my dance partner wasn’t there on Saturday night, but I’m looking forward to meeting her for he first time, I’m sure we have a lot of work to do between now and November.

“Clearly I’m not made for dancing, but the first session was good fun.”

Contestants will be paired with professional dancers and attend weekly training sessions for two months with Andrzej Mialkowski, founder of the Step by Step Dance School.

The couples will perform three dances in front of the panel of judges on the night, including a cha cha, an American smooth waltz and a freestyle number, which will be a Latin and ballroom dance of the couples’ choice.