The Instagram logo

Celebrity Health - Flavia Cacace-Mistry

Image of Flavia Cacace-Mistry © George Hodson

Ex Strictly pro Flavia Cacace-Mistry tells Liz Parry about her new health and fitness programme

For 10 years, professional dancer Flavia Cacace-Mistry appeared on our screens in the hugely popular dance show Strictly Come Dancing. Born in Naples, Italy, Flavia first took up ballroom dancing at the tender age of six and was paired with her professional dance partner Vincent Simone, with whom she continued to perform for the next 25 years. During the eighth series of Strictly, 40-year-old Flavia was paired up with actor Jimi Mistry who she went on to marry in 2013. The couple now live in Surrey with their two dogs, Pablo and Zak.

Since leaving the show in 2013, Flavia and Vincent toured the UK with several dance theatre productions including Midnight Tango, Dance ’til Dawn, The Last Tango and Tango Moderno. Having retired from the world of dance last year, Flavia has recently embarked on a new venture into the world of health and fitness.

Q I understand you’ve recently gone through a career change! Can you tell us a bit about it?

Flavia: Yes! I’ve retrained as a Level 3 personal trainer and nutritional advisor. My diploma includes optimum performance training (OPT) which means that not only can I train people, but I can help to correct muscle imbalances. I’ll be launching a new website soon, called FCMFIT, which will cover all aspects of wellbeing from nutrition and recipes to fitness training. There will still be an element of dance involved through the DanceHiiT aerobic workouts. It’s bridging the gap between what I did and what I do now. It’s a new venture for myself and my husband, so it’s quite exciting.

Q What prompted you to retrain?

Flavia: After 25 years of dancing and touring I was having a lot of problems with my back and my feet. When I stopped touring last April I was a bit run down, both physically and mentally. My body was tired and achy and my mind was exhausted, so I thought I needed to do something about it.

I’d had an MRI on my back and I’d had my feet looked at by a foot doctor. My back was fine – it was just wear and tear – but I knew that I needed to fix myself. That’s how I found out about the OPT system. Initially it was a bit of a scary moment when I decided to take the plunge and retrain, but when I got into the studying I really enjoyed it. I knew that my body and brain needed a new lease of life and that if I had kept on doing the same thing for longer then I could possibly have ended up getting injured.

Q Did you find the nutrition side of the course interesting?

Flavia: Yes, it was a big part of the course. It was so fascinating to learn about nutrition but we only really scratched the surface on the course. I also realised that it’s all about your mindset and that healthy food can really taste amazing. Lots of people think that it doesn’t taste great but that’s simply not true. As a result both Jimi and I have implemented lots of small changes into our own diets and how we eat. Jimi retrained a few years ago as a chef, so we are both very interested in food and nutrition. We would love to help others to make the same kind of changes as they can make a huge difference to your life.

Q What changes did you make to your own diet?

Flavia: We have switched from white flour products to wholemeal, so all our bread and pasta is wholemeal. We have whole wheat couscous and we eat lots of quinoa. Jimi has learnt how to make vegetables taste amazing so we now eat lots of great quinoa salads with broccoli, asparagus, cucumber and tomatoes. I find myself craving vegetables now! We’ve also switched from cow’s milk to almond, oat or coconut milk and I feel so much better as a result. My digestion improved pretty much instantly – I was amazed.

Q What do you eat during a typical day?

Flavia: We tend to have quinoa porridge for breakfast, which we top with nuts and seeds. We realised that we weren’t eating enough fruit, so we bought a Nutribullet and now we have smoothies as part of our breakfast or we’ll have a yogurt and a banana. For lunch we’ll have one of those amazing quinoa salads and in the evening we’ll have something like smoked haddock with vegetables and potatoes. We have meat once a week – it’s a bit of a treat for us – and we’ll always try to buy organic meat. We have fish two to three times a week.

Q How have you incorporated your training into your new fitness programme?

Flavia: I’ve designed a programme that consists of three phases. The idea is to retrain the body to move at its best. A lot of people take up an exercise routine but end up getting injured due to muscular imbalances. This can be for various reasons. For example, many people spend a lot of time sitting down, looking at their phones, or in my case it was progressive overload, which is where you are doing a specific sport or activity and you’re doing the same movement and that causes muscle imbalance. So we go back to the beginning and train the body to move correctly at the joints, using the inner core muscles.

Q How does it work?

Flavia: Phase one is like a form of Pilates as it works on the inner core muscles which protect the spine. This will help to improve your posture and your overall range of movement. There are lots of balance exercises that are really controlled and slow which help to stabilise the joints. There is another section in Phase one which is agility, where we do squat jumps, for example, but we focus on the landing technique. Phase two takes it up a notch, so it uses a medium tempo and we start engaging more of the outer core muscles.

The balance and agility work is more challenging and we focus less on the landing and more on the movement. Phase three, the last phase, takes it a bit further, so you’re mixing power and speed. By that point your body should be functioning as well as it possibly can and your inner core should be engaged so your spine is protected and that’s when you can start to push it. I wanted to include some of my dance background in the programme, so it also includes DanceHiiT intervals which feature dance moves from the samba, the merengue, the rhumba and the jive.

Q Do you still dance on a regular basis?

Flavia: I danced for 25 years and I stopped in April last year. I was so lucky and privileged to have had such a wonderful career. I still get to dance to a samba and a jive and a quickstep as part of my new programme. I also do a fair bit of teaching so I still get to put my dance shoes on!

Flavia has launched – a world of fitness, dance workouts, ballroom masterclasses and recipes on the go.

Read other celebrity health articles here...

Read articles from our latest issue here...