updated 09/07/2013 AT 7:00 PM ET
•originally published 09/07/2013 AT 8:00 PM ET
Amber Riley is working her butt off as she prepares for her debut on the new season of Dancing with the Stars – and she’s loving it.
“The rehearsal schedule is grueling but I’ve been really enjoying the workout aspect of it. It’s four hours a day for six days a week,” the Glee star, 27, told PEOPLE at the Tadashi Shoji fashion show at Lincoln Center in N.Y.C. on Thursday.
Riley will perform on the 17th season of DWTS, which premieres Sept. 16, with dance pro Derek Hough. “He is so cute and so sweet and he actually reminds me of Chord [Overstreet]” who plays “trouty mouth” Sam Evans on Glee.
The fact that Hough has won the competition four times also put the actress’ nerves at ease. “When I found out he was the person I was going to be dancing with it boosted my confidence a little bit, so I’m really excited about it,” she adds.
Though the powerhouse singer is a pro when it comes to performing, being part of a duo instead of an ensemble is something she’ll have to warm up to.
“I’m used to having 11 other people around me camouflaging my bad dancing,” she jokes. “Now it’s me and Derek.”