The fan-favorite dance pro is currently sitting out this season of the ABC show

By Christina Dugan and Aurelie Corinthios
Updated April 04, 2016 10:10 AM
Credit: David Livingston/Getty

Dancing with the Stars season 22 is in full swing – but it’s minus fan favorite pro Derek Hough.

PEOPLE caught up with the star at the iHeartRadio Music Awards Sunday in Los Angeles, and he explained the reason behind his decision to sit out on this season of the hit show.

“I think I just always had the feeling of being inspired – I want to give all to whatever I’m doing. I think I just needed a little bit of time to grow,” said Derek, who helped guide Bindi Irwin to victory last year, marking a record sixth win for himself.

“I think if you’re not growing, essentially – it sounds dramatic but it’s true – so for me this is giving me some time to work on other skills that I want to work on for myself,” he said.

Derek, 30, says he hopes his break will allow him to “extend my vocabulary of movement in different avenues and different things” for when he returns.

“It’s been great! And [I’m] also prepping for projects coming, there’s a lot of stuff happening so I’m going to get busy real busy again,” he added. “I’m enjoying some time now to kind of – it’s one thing building a career, but also building a life. I need to have that time.”

And time off means time off – in fact, he hasn’t even been watching this season.

“I just hear [about it] from my friends. I missed the episode last week,” he said. “I’ll be doing something and be like, ‘Oh yeah, the show! I missed the show! Shoot.’ Normally you’re just so consumed by it, it’s wild.”

As for whether we can expect him back in the ballroom for season 23? That’s still up in the air.

“I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Also taking a break from the show is his sister Julianne Hough, who exclusively told PEOPLE in February that she would not be returning to judge for season 22.

Julianne, meanwhile, is busy enjoying her engagement to hockey player Brooks Laich.

“In Mormon culture, three months is a long time to be engaged,” Julianne, whose father is Mormon, recently told PEOPLE. “But we plan on being together forever, so we have time.”

And even though he’s in no rush to figure it out, Derek already has an idea of what he’s going to buy his sister for the wedding.

“The Ninja blender!” he said.

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.