Dancing With the Stars

Dancing with the Stars: Why the Show Is Both a Dream and a Nightmare

04/23/2013 at 02:00 PM EDT

Mark Ballas

Mark Ballas

The work is exhausting and all-consuming. But it takes you places you never thought you could go.

The contestants on this season's Dancing with the Stars are united on what makes competing on the show so difficult – but at the same time, so amazing.

It comes down to a simple maxim: No pain, no gain.

"Getting up every day knowing you have to go dance for six hours is pretty tough. People think dancing is easy. It's not," Jacoby Jones told PEOPLE after Monday's show.

"Up until the dance, you're like, Why do I put myself through this? Why would I do this to myself?" added Zendaya Coleman.

"The worst part of the whole thing? The dancing!" Andy Dick joked. "No, when we're finally performing and on stage, I have a blast. But it's extremely difficult."

But they all say it's worth it in the end, with the camaraderie and personal accomplishments outweighing the crushing demands of daily rehearsals.

"Overall, the way I've grown as a person, is miraculous. I can't even put it into words, so I won't try," says Dick.

Adds Coleman: "It all pays off and it all makes sense, and you're happy that you did it."

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