Ballerina Jenelle Manzi Is Dancing Through The Snack Isle
When Jenelle Manzi isn't dancing in the beloved holiday ballet, The Nutcracker, she's leading your newfound favorite healthy snack company, Get Golden.
My Secret Job is a column that features individuals who skillfully clock into their day-to-day jobs while juggling their secret or not-so-secret endeavors. This month, catching up with individuals who managed to “hack” and disrupt what conventional work looks like by creating a path guided by passion.
If you've snagged tickets to the holiday classic, The Nutcracker, chances are you've witnessed Jenelle Manzi grace the New York City Ballet stage. If not, it's time to make it a priority this season. This is your excuse to romanticize an outing at the ballet with the gals and lads–or perhaps (ahem) a perfect date request that wouldn't be rocket science to plan: dress up, enjoy a pre-show dinner and indulge yourself in the enchanting world of ballet.
We caught up with Jenelle Manzi, a ballerina dancing for the New York City Ballet and the founder and CEO of Get Golden, a wellness-oriented snack company. When not engulfed in demanding ballet show schedules, Jenelle is focused on leading and creating USDA-certified organic products at Get Golden—think delicious grab-and-go bars and spreads with ingredients you recognize and can pronounce, a sweet departure from the cluttered and unnecessary components commonly found in items from the "healthy" snacks aisle.
Get Golden has become the dream business for a full-time ballerina with holistic practices. Concocting the brand's first product in 2020 from her Upper West Side kitchen, the health-conscious hat pops when the pointe shoes come off.
Can we be a fly on the wall for a moment here? Give us the daily routine that a real-life ballerina relies on to gear up for a performance in the universally adored show, The Nutcracker:
Jenelle: It’s a bit of a wild schedule, but I love it. I typically wake up around 6:30 and have a pretty routine-like morning, which is helpful for me to set the tone for my day: water, (strong!) coffee, and a good breakfast. I check in on anything pressing for my company, Get Golden, and usually take a call or two around 9 am to move any pieces along while I’m dancing throughout the day. From there, I do my favorite part of the morning routine: skincare. I get ready and head to the theater for ballet training class at 10:30 am. Depending on the day, some days are more intense or less intense with rehearsals. On intense days, I’m pretty much there all day rehearsing, training, getting PT, etc. and then perform in the show from 8-10 pm. On less intense rehearsal days, I either use extra time to take additional calls/work on Get Golden, see my pilates trainer, or go to Remedy for a reboot (I love to cold plunge). Time stamps below!
6:30 am - Wake Up
7 am - Coffee/ Breakfast/ Emails
8-9:30 am - Get Golden emails/calls/team check-in on Slack
10 am - Commute to NYCB theater
10:30-11:30 am - Training ballet class
11:30 am - Snack
11:30 am-5 pm - On and off rehearsals, pilates training, lunch, physical therapy, get golden slack/emails
6 pm - Reset Shower, Snacks, Coffee
8-10 pm - Nutcracker Performance
10:30 pm - Home for dinner, tea, emails for Get Golden, and my favorite-- Instagram reel editing.
11:30 pm - Bed
Why did you launch Get Golden?
Jenelle: Since early into my ballet career, I’ve juggled several serious injuries and, particularly after an ankle surgery for a torn tendon, battled consistent inflammation throughout my body, which subsequently triggered a series of food allergies that made it even more difficult to properly fuel my body for long days at the studio. It was a period in my life where I was really frustrated and lost. After countless trips to doctors, I decided to take a more holistic approach and embraced a new lifestyle. I started a blog to document my journey, creating recipes using “cleaner” ingredients as a way to share what I was learning. It was through the messages from moms and young girls in my industry that I knew this was going to be something special in my life. After many years of sharing recipes, late nights in the kitchen making snacks for my fellow ballerinas, and speaking to my audience, I realized there were so many people facing the same issue. With Get Golden, I channel my passion for deliciously fueling foods with cultivating community, and I am so excited to see where this journey will take me.
With the holidays here and most of us throwing our diets out the window for a couple of weeks (or months, or perhaps indefinitely), can you share the nutritional choices that really make a difference during your high-season performances and beyond?
Jenelle: I know this phrase is overused, but it really is about listening to your body. What does it like, what does it not like? I always look at both sides: food for an overall healthy, strong body and food for pleasure—sometimes the sides overlap, and sometimes they don’t; that’s life!
After many years of dancing professionally and studying nutritional science, I’ve found a plan that works for me. That means having a few key staples that make me feel really energized and strong every day. Some of these include protein shakes, granola bowls, nut butter toast with banana, chicken, avocado, sweet potato, red meat, burgers, rice bowls, and, of course, healthy snacks. Once that framework is there, I add in other things that are maybe not considered “healthy.” For example, grilled chicken and avocado are lunch staples for me, but lately, I’ve become addicted to these truffle potato chips. I wouldn’t consider them a superfood, but they are delicious and make me happy. Once you have a framework that makes you feel good, adding other indulgences or going out for a delicious meal with friends only makes life more fun, which is the whole point.
When not in ballerina mode or Get Golden CEO mode, where can we find you?
Jenelle: Prioritizing self-care physically, mentally, and emotionally and going out to see friends :) It’s a huge necessity of mine to stay grounded throughout my rigorous schedule of ballet and running Get Golden. I need to do a better job of sharing my non-ballerina/CEO mode, as that’s all people really see. I love simple pleasures. Long walks, bike rides, baking, hot yoga, dinner with friends, trips to the farmers market– it helps balance out everything.
A guilty pleasure you indulge in time and again:
Jenelle: Let’s do one savory, one sweet — French fries. And good chocolate, always!
When attending a ballet performance, what are the must-haves an attendee should consider that will make their experience top-notch?
Jenelle: We live in such a digitally connected world. When you have the chance to go to a live performance, go into it open and ready to soak it all up. There is nothing more powerful than the energy exchange from live performance. From the orchestra to the dancers to the audience, it’s a powerful experience as the evening unfolds.
What's the secret sauce that fuels both your ballet career and your health food brand? Are there any common threads that seamlessly weave them together?
Jenelle: For me, it’s all about slowing down to speed up. Both as a ballerina and business owner, each day brings new challenges that are grueling yet incredibly rewarding. There have been many moments where I’ve had to slow down to evaluate the best next move, whether it be because of a dance injury or a manufacturing hiccup. Sometimes, you just have to pause and feel the discomfort of it because it’s so incredibly important to reset. Rather than instant gratification, I’m always working toward my North Star, long-term vision.
Something you’d want someone to think when they taste a Get Golden product:
Jenelle: Balance! All our pantry essential products are made to make you feel nourished and satisfied with only super high-quality organic ingredients (i.e., nuts, seeds, grains, etc). But they also each have a touch of indulgence, whether that be our decadent Turmeric Coconut Butter Caramel in our bars or our smooth & silky Sunrise Spread that makes the perfect companion for toast, yogurt bowls, ice cream, chocolate cups, and so much more.
Something you’d want someone to think when they’re sitting in a seat watching The Nutcracker:
Jenelle: What joy and wonder many children in the audience are experiencing in those moments. It’s magical for them! Dance is such a powerful form of self-expression, and for young children, it can really help open their eyes to dream big.
Something you think the world needs a little more of:
Jenelle: Certainly a tough question right now. Compassion.