James Van Der Beek and his pro partner Emma Slater made it to the semifinals of Dancing with the Stars before they were eliminated

By Joelle Goldstein
November 27, 2019 08:45 PM

James Van Der Beek may not have won the mirror ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars — but he certainly walked away with something else!

On Wednesday, the Dawson’s Creek alum, 42, showed off his newly toned physique in a shirtless selfie on Instagram, which he credited to the six hours of dancing he had to do each day while competing on the show.

Prior to his time on the ABC dance competition series, Van Der Beek said he was heavily training in Muay Thai, which is a form of martial arts and boxing that originated in Thailand.

However, it was dancing that really gave him the noticeable results, as shown in the side-by-side shot, which features the actor wearing a pair of jeans with a brown belt and a gold chain as he poses in the mirror and shows off his toned abs and slimmer figure.

“Fight training vs. dancing…” he captioned the Instagram photo. “I’d been training in Muay Thai three days a week for about six months (for the next project I’m writing) when I hit pause to dance six hours a day. Now I can rhumba ??”

James Van Der Beek
| Credit: James Van Der Beek/Instagram

After posting the impressive snap, Van Der Beek earned the praises of his professional partner Emma Slater, as well as Jenna Johnson, who is another professional dancer on the show.

“Both cut but you can see dancing really defines everything. Especially when you worked as hard as you did! In every way you are a huge advocate for dance @vanderjames!!!” Slater, 30, commented.

“YES James!!!! This is amazing ??,” added Johnson, 25.

Credit: James Van Der Beek/Instagram

This isn’t the first time that Van Der Beek has spoken about the transformation dancing has had on his body.

In September, the Dawson’s Creek star revealed to PEOPLE that he didn’t know how much weight he had lost since beginning his quest for season 28’s mirrorball trophy, but that he definitely saw a change in his clothing sizes.

“I haven’t stepped on a scale, but my pants have gotten looser,” he said backstage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, which came after a four and a half hour session with Slater.

“I was training, I was fight-training for something for like six months,” he continued. “So I was in pretty good shape, but not dancing shape. It’s a whole other level.”

“I knew it was going to be hard. I was prepared for a really, really steep learning curve,” he added. “It’s about what I expected. I had no illusions going in. I knew it’d be a lot of work. I knew it would be a ton of time. I just really wanted to do it.”

James Van Der Beek and Emma Slater
| Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

Despite being in tip-top shape, Van Der Beek and Slater were sent home in the semi-finals of DWTS, shortly after the actor had revealed that his wife had Kimberly had suffered a miscarriage.

During a video package on the show, Van Der Beek announced the devastating news that his wife had lost their sixth baby on the way.

“My wife Kimberly and I went through every expecting parent’s worst nightmare. We lost the baby,” he said. “The little soul that we had expected to welcome into our family took a shortcut to whatever lies beyond.”

“You never know why these things happen, that’s what I’ve been telling my kids,” he continued. “All you know is that it brings you closer together, it breaks you open, it opens your heart, it deepens your appreciation. It makes you more human.”

James Van Der Beek, wife Kimberly, and their kids
| Credit: Jillian Goulding Photography

Following the emotional episode, Slater opened up to PEOPLE about how the actor was coping, explaining that he had praised the ABC series for helping him.

“He needed the show,” she said, recalling her partner’s words. “He said to me, ‘I need the show. I’m grateful to have an outlet and to have a form of physical expression and keep that engine to keep me going. I need to feel normal and not fall into the pit.'”

She also teared up while discussing his elimination, lamenting about how she wished she would have been able to shield him from his double loss.

“I feel like I want to protect him and he wasn’t protected,” she said. “I told him I was really sorry and it had nothing to do with him at all. He was the best he could have ever been, and I told him that he was amazing and I wouldn’t have wanted to have danced with anyone else. … I feel like he was let down. He was an incredible dancer.”

“He’s not one to get defeated,” she added. “He has a very good head on his shoulders. This is a dance show. I know he’s upset and disappointed. At the same time, he’s an extremely smart and level-headed man. He’s the first person to offer up advice. I hope he’s taking his own advice.”