Lady of the dance - Luba Mushtuk

Beauty and wellness editor, Kelly Andrews, talks to Strictly's Luba Mushtuk about health, wellbeing and the all-important first dance

 Luba Mushtuk in white blazer

L uba Mushtuk has been a pro dancer on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing since 2016. On a break between tours, she took some time out to chat to our beauty and wellness editor, Kelly Andrews. Here, she shares her top health and wellbeing tips for soon-to-be weds, as well as giving us the lowdown on how she keeps fit and healthy when she's not performing on the show or touring. 

How did you discover your passion for dance and decide to make it a career? It all started when I fell in love with a skirt that my mum made for me when I was around three years old. I was a very naughty child, but once I had music and a skirt I was just off dancing by myself, rather than making a mess around the house! That was why my mum was so keen for me to keep dancing, it kept me out of trouble! From the age of four, I started competing. My oldest brother was already a dancer by that time and gave me a lot of lessons at home, so even at four I was very advanced compared to my peers. I guess the universe made a decision for me, I never even questioned my career path, as I'd already been doing it my whole life. I can't even imagine doing anything else.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far? I'm proud of how I'm able to communicate my passion and love for dance with millions of people and hopefully make them feel every single emotion I'm expressing through my art. Being on TV is so amazing, as you can bring joy to so many people, and hopefully inspire them too.

How did you get involved with Strictly? I started as an assistant choreographer in 2016, which I did for two years and absolutely loved working behind the scenes. I always dreamed of being a professional dancer on the show though, so I'm grateful it happened that way. What style would you suggest a couple learn for their first dance as beginners, even for those of us with two left feet! The first dance is such a special moment and should be magical. I've choreographed a good few for for my friends, I love doing them, but it all depends on music choice. Once, I did a wedding dance mix of eight songs complete with a change of a dress. It's about the couple, music choice and what they really want. A waltz or American smooth are both good choices for a classic first dance but if you want something a bit different, more fun, just go for it! Tell us about your own healthy living regime.

How do you stay fit and healthy in between series and tours? It's so important to stay healthy while on tour, as our schedule is so busy. But I also keep fit and healthy between tours and building up to Strictly Come Dancing. It's actually very simple for me – I eat very clean and exercise daily, whether that's pilates, a run, boxing, or dance. I also think sleep is such an important part of staying healthy. I certainly love my beauty sleep – I never get less than seven hours and always try to listen to my body. We understand you're a fan of getting outdoors to exercise.

Where do you most love to go? I love the outdoors especially on those rare sunny days. I'm a big sun lover! One of my favourite spots in London where I go for a run and exercise outdoors is Hampstead Heath; it's so big and full of nature, with a great view over the city. I love being out in the fresh air.

black and white image of Luba Mushtuk

What does a typical day look like for you? How does your fitness and wellness regime fit in? If you want to fit it in, you will. It's all about prioritising fitness and wellness that makes you feel good. I think you're more likely to stick to a schedule if you work out in the morning, then there's less chance of something coming up in the day that can cause exercise to fall down the list of priorities. Doing it first thing means you can't push it back. There's also something to be said for putting yourself first – do something for you first thing. My typical day starts with an early morning workout, I find it sets the tone for the rest of the day. I finish the workout feeling strong, energetic and proud that I started the day with something positive. I obviously love dancing, but I've been really enjoying pilates recently too. Following that, I'll eat breakfast, have some coffee, check my diary to make sure I don't miss any commitments, then let the day begin.

What keeps you motivated? I find motivation within myself. I'm constantly looking to improve and become better than I was yesterday. I think that this attitude is part of being a professional dancer, you have to want to keep pushing to be better. I'm driven to grow and evolve as a person too. I love learning and experiencing new things. I think it's important to broaden your knowledge and change as you gain experience, which is why I try to always say "yes" to new opportunities, even if they seem scary or risky at the time. I also find motivation in the people around me. Whether it's family, friends, or people I work with. I'm constantly inspired by them and their achievements.

What are your top tips for a couple looking to get in shape for their wedding, and how can they maintain it once it's back to reality with a bump? It's a common goal for couples to get into shape for their big day. It might be obvious, but my advice would be to focus on both nutrition and daily movement. Eating a balanced diet that includes wholefoods and avoiding highly processed, sugary foods can make a huge difference to how you feel. It's also very important to keep hydrated and get enough sleep. I believe to look good you must feel good. In terms of movement, finding an exercise routine that works for both partners can be helpful. You could schedule some joint sessions and some separately. For example, if you're learning some fresh moves for your first dance you could take a dance class together (and learning that will get you into shape let me tell you!). Then, perhaps a running session apart, if that makes sense for your schedule. It's also nice to have some 'me' time. For maintaining after the wedding, I think it's important to remember how good the new routine made you feel. But most of all, remember to love your body whatever shape you are. Beauty comes from the confidence within, so make sure if you're looking to get into shape, you're doing it to be stronger and healthier. Getting in shape is not always easy, but it can be a rewarding experience.

If you could tell people about one simple, initial change we could all make to our lives to start us out on the path to a healthier lifestyle, body and mind, what would it be? Personally, I've found our minds and bodies are completely interconnected, and if you love yourself, you'll fuel your body and mind with good nutrition, movement and affirmations. So, I think making a commitment to self-care and self-love is the initial step needed to make positive lifestyle changes. Then to look after your physical self, perhaps start with smaller changes that are achievable. If you're early in your journey, you could start to get to know your body better by doing 10 minutes of stretching every morning, or if you're slightly further along, start a new fitness class. Whatever changes you choose to make, the key is to stay committed and consistent. Remember to be patient with yourself and celebrate your progress along the way.

You're an incredibly busy lady, how do you maintain a healthy mind amidst the pressures of a hectic schedule? Maintaining a healthy mindset throughout a hectic schedule is just something that comes with experience, it's definitely become easier over time! I've learned what I need to prioritise in order to make sure I can remain consistent. This means exercising in the morning, spending time meditating, and keeping an organised diary. Now I'm able to just get things done without thinking about it, but that's only because I've managed to put in the time and hard work to figure it all out. Be patient with yourself and stay committed, and you'll get there, wherever it is you want to go.

Is there anything you can suggest to calm the stress levels during wedding planning? Try to remember that it's a blessing to have met the love of your life, that both committing to each other for a lifetime is a beautiful thing and the rest is just details. I'm a very organised person and I love to plan things, but I can imagine that planning something as big as a wedding would be super stressful. If you're lucky enough to have friends or family members who want to support you with the planning, maybe take them up on it! Or if you can afford it, seek support from a professional wedding planner. It's also important to remember that your wedding day is about you and your partner, and not about pleasing everyone else. I've heard a lot of my friends who've got married say that it's impossible to please everyone. So, I suppose you can remove some of that stress by prioritising what you want and what makes you both happy, whether that means having a big wedding or eloping. Don't feel pressured to conform to society's expectations or what others want from or for you.

What's next for you? My goal is to continue growing, continuing to improve my craft, and grab on to any opportunities that inspire and challenge me! I love life so I'm just going to keep on living and hopefully I'll have many more wonderful opportunities to inspire others.

You can follow Luba on Instagram at, and catch her on Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1.

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