Former Strictly star Kristina Rihanoff reveals she’s a different person since welcoming daughter Mila
From the moment we pick up the phone to former Strictly dancer Kristina Rihanoff, it’s clear she’s relishing every minute of being mum to Mila, her adorable 15-month-old daughter with partner Ben Cohen.
Quickly telling us all about life with her energetic ‘little one’ (who we can hear singing and playing with her toys in the background), Kristina, who recently turned 40, explains she’s enjoying a brand-new chapter away from the sequins and sparkles.
Not only is she still dancing, but she’s also trained to be a yoga instructor and recently unveiled her own collection with fashion brand Pia Michi. Here, the star chats exclusively to Woman Magazine about family life, the plus sides of growing older and being part of the new-found Strictly baby club…
‘I can’t believe how fast Mila is growing up. She started walking at the end of July and has been keeping me on my toes ever since! And she recently started nursery, which was quite a daunting experience. She was crying and it was so hard for us to leave her there, but actually the nursery staff said that once we leave, she’s absolutely fine. She’s basically just emotionally blackmailing us!’
‘Motherhood has put so much into perspective. It’s not about taking care of just me any more – my life completely revolves around Mila. Being a parent also makes you a better person. I love that, and I really think it’s made me into a different person altogether.’
‘As every working mum knows, it isn’t easy. I took almost a year off after I had Mila so that I could be with her and my family. But I have to work to support my family, and I want to work. It’s important to me to set an example for Mila as a working mum and for her to be a person who understands that if you don’t put in effort, you won’t get anything back. I’m also so lucky to have Ben’s support. He’s an incredible dad – very hands-on, supportive and always helping out.’
‘Before my birthday, I thought, “Oh God, I can’t believe I’m going to be 40!” When you’re younger, you think 40 sounds old and so far ahead in the future. But yoga, dancing and having a young baby help me feel young. In my mind, I’m 35! Plus, I wouldn’t want to go back to my 20s – I was full of insecurities and not knowing exactly where I was going and what I was doing. Now, I’m much more comfortable and in a much better place.’
‘I had a big birthday party and celebrated with about 20 of my close friends and family. I had a very exciting 30s – being on Strictly meant I’ve done lots of extremely exciting things that I never thought I would do. It was a crazy decade of my life, so it was great to celebrate the end of that, but also the start of this new chapter.’
‘Like every woman I want to look good, be healthy and be around for a long time. But I’m at a different stage of my life now, so I care less about how I look. I don’t think about being a certain size – it’s about being, and feeling, healthy within. So Ben and I both looked at our diet and have gone vegan. We’re really enjoying it, as there are so many recipes to try out and we also feel really energised.’
‘Would I want Mila to follow in my dancing footsteps? She loves music, actually. Even before she was walking, she was always wiggling her little bum! But she also definitely has those active sports genes. Whether she’s going to be a dancer or a rugby player like her dad, we’ll have to wait and see. She might be both! Or she might be a doctor, or a vet, or something completely different. What’s important to me is that she’s exposed to lots of different activities and makes up her own mind.’
‘I haven’t watched this series of Strictly yet, as September was a crazy month for our family with four birthdays. But I will try to catch up before I go on tour with Tristan MacManus in a couple of weeks. When this year’s line-up was announced, there was talk of it not being great and some not being well known, but I completely disagree – I think it’s an amazing line-up! It’s such a great show, with big personalities and lots of surprises along the way.’
‘I’m so happy for Anton Du Beke and his partner Hannah, who have just had twins. I’ve known Anton and Hannah for years because Anton always hosted my charity balls. I knew they really wanted children, so when it happened, I was so happy for them. Although, twins must be tough – one is hard, but two must be crazy! Anton’s the latest parent from the Strictly family. Lots of past professionals have also had babies, including Yvetta Lukosiute, Tristan MacManus, Katya Virshilas and Erin Boag. So watch this space – they could be the new generation of Strictly dancers!’
Kristina’s Pia Michi fashion range is available from officialkristinarihanoff.com
Photos by Joe Alvarez