The time off "gave me a new boost and inspiration," he tells PEOPLE


While casting for the new Dancing with the Stars season won’t be officially announced until Aug. 29, one person who will definitely be on the show is three-time champ Derek Hough.

“I will be back!” Hough tells PEOPLE. Following his third mirror-ball-winning season with Jennifer Grey last November, Hough took time off in the spring to shoot an independent dance movie Cobu 3D. The time off gave the 26-year-old a chance to “push myself and introduce me to a career I’d love to do more. It was a fantastic experience.”

The break also gave Hough a greater appreciation for the show that made him a fan favorite.

“When we’re doing the show we’re in the bubble and we get into the stress and the drama and all of the behind the scenes stuff,” Hough says. “It was good for me to take a season off and see what he audience sees. It gave me a new boost and inspiration to want to do some great things.”

Dancing‘s new season premieres Sept. 19 on ABC. And Hough can’t wait.

“I will hopefully live up to expectations and do a good job,” he says.