Professional dancer and TV presenter, Janette Manrara has waltzed back onto our screens, for Strictly Come Dancing’s spin-off show It Takes Two. We catch up with the 38-year-old to talk about her fitness, work and self-care secrets…

When the news was announced in September that one of Strictly’s favourites was returning to present the new series’ companion show, fans erupted in a happy dance. For, almost a decade on from first joining the cast of Strictly, Janette Manrara is once again a firm fixture on our screens, bringing fans all the behind-the-scenes gossip from the main show.

With this in mind, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Manrara has always had a dancing career, but she was a relative latecomer to the professional world of dance. Born in Miami, she studied finance and worked in a bank for several years, but dance was always her main passion – leading to her taking part and becoming a finalist in the US version of So You Think You Can Dance in her early 20s.

The competition turned the spotlight on the Cuban star, who went on to achieve success in a variety of top jobs, including the role as a principal dancer on the musical TV series Glee.

It was in 2013 that Manrara first hit the dance floor of Strictly Come Dancing, a journey that has seen her paired up with celebrities such as fashion designer Julien Macdonald, Peter Andre and JLS member Aston Merrygold – a partnership that saw the couple dance to victory and win the show’s Christmas Special in 2018.

After quitting the show last year, the ballroom and Latin dancer landed the job on It Takes Two, stepping into the shoes of Zoe Ball. Now, as Manrara steps up her game in the new series, and continues to work as a presenter on BBC’s Morning Live, it seems as if her feet have hardly touched the ground. With such a busy schedule, how on earth does the TV star do it all? Here’s what she had to say…

How exciting is it to be back presenting It Takes Two?

Janette Manrara: ‘I am over the moon to be back doing this job. When I did it last year I was nervous, as it was all new to me, but now I just love it and feel so excited. I have always been in front of the camera and performing since I was a little girl, so I never feel nervous, and because I have been in the same shoes as the contestants and professional dancers, I feel I am able to get them to open up to me
about their experiences.’

What with co-hosting the show and continuing to be a firm fixture on BBC’s Morning Live, how do you juggle everything?

Janette Manrara: ‘I have always been someone that moves around a lot, so I’m used to being on-the-go. I try to relieve any stress I may be feeling by concentrating on my breathing, which helps. Also, I pick up a lot of things from listening to podcasts about life and work.
I tend to listen to podcasts when I am on the treadmill as it enables me to zone out.’

janette manrara dancing

After your long career as a professional dancer, how different is your fitness routine now?

Janette Manrara: ‘A lot has changed as, obviously, I am not dancing or training like I did for Strictly, but I still keep on top of my fitness. I am definitely not a gym bunny but I love spending time with my personal trainer, who I try to see three times a week, and she helps me focus on weight training – not the sort that will make you big and buff, but more about muscle strengthening.’

What recovery methods do you swear by that you incorporate into your life still?

Janette Manrara: ‘I love to have a professional massage when I have the time, but at home, I have a best friend in my massage gun – it really helps with my muscles and helps iron out any tension I have.’

Related: How to beat a fitness hangover: post-workout recovery tips

Do you miss dancing now you’re no longer on Strictly?

Janette Manrara: ‘Dancing is in my blood. I am Cuban and we love to dance. I learnt to dance at the same time as I learnt to walk so, even if I’m not doing it for 10 hours a day like I used to in my job on the show, you’ll always find me breaking out into dance, as I come from a family of dancers. We don’t drink wine or beer – we get the buzz through dancing and the flow of moving together.’

When it comes to your nutrition, what do you tend to eat?

Janette Manrara: ‘I’m not one of those people who cuts out carbs or sweets. For me, it’s all about balance. If I fancy pancakes for breakfast, I’ll have them and then I’ll be careful about what I eat for the rest of the day, or I’ll be good for a few days and eat healthily, and then have a treat or two. In fact, my favourite thing ever when I get spare time is to stay home with my husband (Aljaz Skorjanec, a fellow former professional dancer on Strictly), watch Netflix and get a take-away.’

Related: Pre-workout nutrition for women: what to eat & when

janette manrara ambassador new nordic collagen

You’re the brand ambassador of the New Nordic Collagen Shot range. What is it about the products that you love?

Janette Manrara: ‘The bonus of doing my job and being in the spotlight is that I get lovely brands approaching me, but I’ll only work with those that I truly believe in as it is important for me to be totally authentic. The collagen shots from New Nordic are incredible. I’ve seen a huge difference over the past year, when I’ve been working in hot temperatures, under the light, sweating and with heavy make-up on. They’ve boosted my skin, made it plump and blemish-free. I am a huge fan!’

When it comes to self-care, what makes you happy?

Janette Manrara: ‘I love to meditate and I am a huge fan of stretching. I know that sounds really boring but, when it comes to elongating my muscles after working out, be it running or dancing, I feel an inner sense of peace and calm. I am also a huge fan of cold showers. During my morning routine, I try to stand under the shower for a minute or two as it totally wakes me up and refreshes me for the day.

‘And the best self-care is actually feeling the love of my family and my husband, who keep me grounded. He is my number one fan and, because he knows the industry inside-out, he has always been so supportive of me, both in my career, as my best friend and as my partner. When it is just the two of us, we laugh about being called a “celebrity” as I never see myself as one. I am just Janette, a girl who likes to dance.’

Janette Manrara’s tips for staying well this autumn

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1. Take collagen

‘Try the New Nordic Collagen Shot. It’s so beneficial for skin, bones, hair and nails. I’m all about preventative methods when it comes to skincare, and have never had botox or fillers because products like this help keep my fine lines at bay.’ £29.99 for 15 sachets; from Holland & Barrett stores nationwide or

2. Stick to a routine

‘As the days get darker, it can be easier to get into a rut, but having a routine is crucial as it helps you feel in control, which is very important. So, plan and try to follow a routine.’

Related: 7 ways to upgrade your home workout routine

3. Move your body

‘Exercise is obviously important for your physical and mental health, so choose something you enjoy, as that way you won’t dread doing it and you will look forward to it. It can be going for a long walk in nature or laughing through a Zumba class. Just be sure to try and get your body moving.’

Related: 26 ways to be more active throughout the day

Manrara is brand ambassador for New Nordic. For more details, visit