After just finishing a gruelling stint of Panto recently; 5 weeks of 2 performances a day to be precise star of Strictly Come Dancing’s Kristina Rihanoff kindly gave up some of her precious time to answer our questions regarding how she maintains that healthy and glowing skin of hers.
You have just finished 5 weeks doing pantomime with 2 performances a day, how was that for you?
It was an amazing experience, acting for two hours is demanding in a different way to performing dance and it did take me out of my comfort zone. You are effectively in a bubble with your Panto family for that time. I’m proud to have achieved something new, it was hard work but Panto is such a happy environment it carries you through.
I only had Christmas Day off during that period, all in all there were 62 shows and it reached an audience of 45,000, it’s very satisfying to have done it.
How do you find the stamina for such performances?
“Eating well and having enough sleep is key. I’m very careful to provide my body with enough fuel when I’m performing whether that be Panto or dance.
A two-hour performance is an emotional rollercoaster and you must give 100%. It’s draining, so equipping yourself mentally and physically with proper rest and diet is a must.”
We know that health and fitness has been a major part of your life alongside dancing, so apart from dancing keeping you healthy do you do any other activities to keep you fit?
“Well for me it’s yoga. I don’t enjoy the gym or doing weights. I’ve seen a lot of people with injuries through not using equipment or lifting weights the right way.
I’m a firm believer in personal instruction; I realise I’m probably going against the grain when I say I’m not a fan of Apps; you can’t in my view replace the human instructor.
I feel the same way about yoga; you need to be shown alignment in poses and have the guidance to be able to make adjustments.”
How long have you been practicing & teaching yoga?
“I started back in 2001, I moved to States when I was dancing competitively and my dance partner introduced me to Bikram yoga in Seattle.
It was excruciatingly hot and a form of torture at the time but somehow I was hooked and I never looked back. It’s a moving meditation and I always knew I would want to teach it when I had more time to study it in depth. I love the strength and focus it gives me. “
How did that transition come about? Have you always been into Yoga?
“Three years ago after having Mila I decided it was time to train. I committed to the 200 hours full training to become a Hatha yoga instructor.
It has widened my horizons and knowledge in all sorts of ways; I studied physiology and the anatomy of joints and ligaments and really understand how the body works. I feel it’s enhanced my dance teaching as well.”
What’s more relaxing for you, dance or yoga?
“Well, the short answer is that it rather depends on my mood as they both work for me in different ways and they are both highly satisfying. With dancing there is the release of endorphins which makes me feel wonderful and if I’m feeling in a high-energy mood then I will dance. Other times I just want ‘flow’ and I’ll turn to my yoga mat. Both are addictive as they make you feel great!”
We also hear you have recently turned vegan, was this a hard decision and has Ben followed suit with you?
“It wasn’t difficult for me as I was lactose intolerant so it was easy for me to cut out dairy. When I turned 40 I felt that I really had to start looking after myself to continue to live as actively as I do. “
“There’s so much information available, I did a lot of research before making the transition. Once I adopted a vegan diet my body responded very well so it’s been easy to continue. I feel great have lots of energy and of course, it sits well with my yoga philosophy.
Ben joined me for six months as he was recovering from glandular fever and it really helped him with his recovery, but he’s a meat-lover so it was not something he wanted to give up completely. “
You are also a F.I.T ambassador for Forever Living Products now, what does that entail?
“I was using the products including the Argi+ which was crucial for me for energy and recovery when I was dancing in Strictly. I also love the drinking gel and the supplements. It was quite a natural evolution for me to then become an ambassador for the brand it fits well with my overall lifestyle and ethos;
I’m a genuine advocate as the drinking gel supports my digestion. I like the fact that the company has been established 40 years and that so much scientific research goes into developing products that are high quality and that work.”
“As an ambassador, I talk about my experience of using the products and also lead some yoga events – I led a class at the Shard last year and am doing one in Glasgow in a couple of weeks’ time.”
What are your favourite Forever Living products?
“Well for me it has to be the aloe vera drinking gel https://flpuk.info/aloe-drinking-gels and the Argi+; I take a shot of the gel daily first thing in the morning.
I also like the Women’s Vitolize supplement which contains folic acid, iron and vitamins B12 & B6. I do change my supplements depending on the season. “
“So would you highly recommend the Aloe Vera drinking Gel? Yes of course! They are available in such a range of flavours that there is one to suit everyone and since they reformulated last year they contain even higher levels of aloe.
The plain aloe vera drinking gel is 99.7% aloe, you simply won’t find this quality in any other brand. “
Your skin looks absolutely glowing, how would you describe your skin type and what are your main skin concerns?
“My skin has an oily T-zone the rest I would describe as dry. My main concerns are ageing and dehydration because I sweat when I dance.
Ultimately the appearance of your skin comes from within, so plenty of fruit and vegetables form a large part of my diet anyway, but a proper regime looking after your skin makes a difference too. I’m into my second year of using Forever’s Infinite skincare and it works for me.”
How important is it to look after your skin?
“In my line of work I wear a lot of make-up which can be quite heavy so I do need to take care to prevent break-outs. A good skin routine is vital in terms of cleansing and moisturizing and I try to give my skin time to breathe by not wearing foundation when I’m not in the public eye.”
Did you have a dance/fitness or sports icon you looked up to growing up in Russia?
“When I was a little girl I looked up to my dance teachers – a husband and wife team, the discipline and the love they gave me and others taking us all over the country. They were like second parents they spent so much time with us and created a family atmosphere.”
“As a teenager, my dance idols were Michael Jackson and Paula Abdul in Russia we had our own champions that I looked up to but they were not generally known to the outside world.”
What would you like to see change/improve within the dance world
“Ballroom dancing is of course very competitive; it’s wonderful in so many ways, it teaches you discipline and drive but at the same time it is a very political world. There is a negative side that I lived through and worked through and it is not what I would want my own daughter to go through. “
“My experience has influenced me considerably in the philosophy I have adopted for how I wanted to set up my dance academy; I want a wider scope covering performing arts and I don’t want to push students to compete. I love the world of ballroom dancing, but not everyone has to compete.“
How do you feel the industry can make further moves in shifting the change from body image to true health?
“What I love most about yoga is that it is for everyone, it’s accessible regardless of your age, shape or size. It’s not about what you look like or how much you weigh. It’s incredibly liberating.“
“I would like to think that children can grow up without the pressure of ‘meeting industry standards’, that dance and any healthy activity is about joy and feeling wonderful.
I had a lot of pressure as a teenager it takes a long time to be ok with who you are. I’ve embraced who I am now. I can only imagine the pressure that teenagers of today feel with so many ‘perfect images’ on social media to live up to.”
“Yoga is non-competitive and reduces stress, the poses are just one aspect of yoga; its philosophy is about embracing life and celebrating ourselves. I would love to see yoga on the curriculum in schools – it would make such a difference to our children’s self-esteem and there are already schools in the States embracing it.“
After you fulfilled your lifelong dream to create a dance production of your own in winter 2018, you directed produced and choreographed your own show “Dance to the Music” about the evolution of dance that took the nation by storm, what’s next for Kristina?
“I’d love to tour it one more time but I want to give it a rest for a year to recharge. I will do it again, probably in 2020. Right now Ben & I are in the process of securing premises for our wellbeing centre in Northampton close to where we live.
We are taking a holistic approach to exercise offering yoga/pilates/dance to every age group from Mother & Baby to our precious elderly – I can’t wait!”