07 February 2024

Strictly’s Janette Manrara: Beauty doesn’t necessarily stem from how we look

07 February 2024

Janette Manrara is the first to admit making time for self-care gets trickier once you’re a parent.

But the professional dancer and Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two presenter – who along with her husband, fellow Strictly star Aljaž Škorjanec, welcomed baby Lyra last July – is a big believer in taking an “every little helps” approach.

“As time is non-existent for me lately,” she begins with a laugh, “my morning and evening routines are my self-love moments, my me-time. And it’s only minutes really, maybe five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening, because if [Lyra] starts crying or she’s up or whatever, I’ve got to be there.

“But just taking the time in the morning to have my collagen shot with my coffee and put on my creams and serums, it’s a bit of me. I feel like I’ve taken a couple minutes in my day to just do Janette and look after myself.”

Manrara has been touring all winter. She did a Christmas special tour with her husband and has been hosting the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour ever since, due to finish on February 11.

It’s meant spending days at a time away from home. But the 40-year-old – who was born in Miami, Florida, to Cuban parents – couldn’t be happier right now and says she’s doing “amazing”.

“I mean, more amazing for being home with Lyra today,” she says, chatting over Zoom from her living room in Cheshire, during a break at home between shows. “I haven’t seen Lyra for six days, and I’m due off again [soon], so I’m literally soaking in every second I can with her.”

While being away from home can be tough (although Lyra has visited her on tour, too), she loves her work.

“The Strictly Live tour is incredible, the dancing is amazing, the whole cast is amazing. And just to be back on stage – Aljaž and I did our tour, which was my first time back on stage after having Lyra, and that was beautiful, and the Strictly arena [tour] is next level. We had 8000 people in every single show, when we did five shows in Birmingham, and there’s no better feeling than walking out and seeing everybody’s smiling faces. They’re all there for dancing, which is quite special. So, life is good at the moment.”

Although not hiding the fact she’s “exhausted”, Manrara is clearly overjoyed at being a mum. She and Aljaž revealed last year that they’d been trying for two years to have a baby and were preparing to start IVF treatment when Manrara suddenly fell pregnant with Lyra.

“Motherhood has just been sensational. I mean, I knew I was going to love her when she was coming into my life, but I don’t think it’s explainable, the level of love you feel for your child, it’s just the deepest, rawest form of love I’ve ever felt in my life,” she says today.

“It’s no longer just about me and Aljaž and what we do, now she takes priority, and if she’s ok and everything’s ok for her, then everything else trickles. But I’m absolutely loving being a mum – she was a baby we wanted for a while, it took us a little bit to get to her. So, to have her finally here is just a dream.”

Looking after her wellbeing has always been a priority for Manrara. These days, it’s all about savouring those little pockets of me-time in her daily routine. And being “preventative instead of reactive” – especially when it comes to skincare.

“I’ve never had any Botox, I’ve never had any fillers or injections or anything like that, and I think it’s all stemmed from just looking after myself, what I eat, exercising, and putting things on my skin and into my body that just feel good and are as natural as possible.”

It’s why she’s happy to be continuing in her role as an ambassador for Scandinavian health and beauty brand New Nordic – she swears by their daily Collagen Shots. “I tried them for a few months and really noticed the difference in my skin. And the Natural Magic cream is amazing, I use it every day.”

There is something to be said about working with our interior beauty, who we are as people...

For Manrara though, it’s as much about what’s happening on the inside, as it is the outside.

“I think beauty, it doesn’t necessarily stem from how we look. Obviously, that’s what we focus on because it’s what people see immediately – people don’t know who we are as people right from the get-go. But there is something to be said about working with our interior beauty, who we are as people, how we feel about ourselves internally, how we take care of our bodies, the things that we do for our mind,” she reflects.

Meditation is part of this picture for the dancer too, along with exercise.

“I used to meditate a lot more than I do now,” she says. “But now that I’m on tour, funnily enough, I’m meditating more because I’m in the hotel room on my own. In the evenings, I’ll meditate to help me relax and get to bed.

“Once the tour is over, the next thing I do is my gym sessions. Being physically active is a huge part of my happiness, because I have to move – I think we all need to move in some shape or form. Being a dancer, I’ve always just danced and that’s been my way of exercise, but now that I’m not dancing as much, getting to the gym and doing my weight training makes me really, really happy.

“At the moment, I’m not doing it too much, but once the tour’s done, I’ll try and go back to doing it two or three times a week if I can.”

Janette Manrara is brand ambassador for New Nordic’s Collagen Shot, available from newnordic.co.uk and Holland & Barrett stores.

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