"I think people will be very pleasantly surprised when the show airs," writes PEOPLE's new blogger

By Karina Smirnoff
March 12, 2012 10:50 AM
Credit: Courtesy Karina Smirnoff

Dancing with the Stars reigning pro champion Karina Smirnoff will blog about season 14 each week for PEOPLE.com.

In her first post, she writes about what she’s been up to since taking home the mirror-ball trophy with season 13 winner J.R. Martinez and how she’s getting along in rehearsals with her new partner, singer Gavin DeGraw:

Last season of DWTS finished right before Thanksgiving and I had practically zero days off. But I’m not complaining. I’m super excited about the ability to work. And there’s always a lot going on.

My makeup line with Girlactik is doing well. We’re coming out with new colors, and I’m really looking forward to that. My dance studio is kicking my butt, too. And I just got back from a big Hawaiian tour for my DanceFIT-KS program. So I’ve been busy, but I feel very, very blessed.

Right now, my Dancing with the Stars partner Gavin DeGraw and I in are Detroit, and it’s freezing. I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, it’s so cold. Thirty degrees is not warm.” Gavin is touring right now and we need to find time to rehearse, so I came out here with him. He’s doing his best not to overload himself with too much work. So far, it’s been amazing. And I’m actually going to one of his shows for the first time.

Gavin’s a great partner but he’s never danced before. He was never in dance classes or anything like that when he was a kid but he’s been working really hard. Plus, he’s got swagger and charisma, which always helps in the ballroom. I’ve had a blast rehearsing with him so far. He’s funny and he’s self-deprecating in many ways. The new season, which premieres March 19, has been amazing so far.

The rest of the cast is great and very diverse. There are people who have some dancing experience and some who do not. I think this season is going to be very competitive. I think people will be very pleasantly surprised when the show airs.