updated 05/10/2011 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/10/2011 AT 2:30 PM ET
Ralph Macchio isn’t letting an injury bring him down.
“From the fans’ perspective, from my perspective, and my relationship with Karina [Smirnoff] and my family, [this experience has] been golden,” he told PEOPLE backstage after Monday night’s show. “Obviously, if you don’t like your partner, I don’t know how you do this. But we have something special.”
But not everything about his time on the show has been easy on Macchio, who admits sometimes he gets “frustrated.”
“I deliver 100 percent every week, [but] I still think we get judged pretty tough,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot about myself, as far as how far I can push myself – physically, mentally and emotionally. It is a tough grind.”