In my last post, I shared my first barre (ballet fitness) experience. Spoiler alert – it was pretty amazing! I’ve been taking classes through Sleek Techniques, which provides on-demand classes and live Skype-style exercise classes. Flik Swan, Co-founder and Director of Sleek Techniques, took some time away from the barre to answer a few questions about Sleek Techniques, ballet fitness, owning a business with a friend, plans for a US tour and achieving your goals.
Tell me a bit about yourself. How did you get into dance?
I started dancing very young – aged two! My mum took me into the local dance school in my home town in Devon (England) where I ran about in my slippers collecting imaginary butterflies in my ‘ballerina hands’. I kept wanting to go back and did so for the following years before taking classes with the Royal Ballet School at nine. At the ages of 11, I won the Fancesca Dallaglio Memorial Scholarship to attend Elmhurst Ballet School and began my full-time training in classical ballet and dance. That was a very happy time and an opportunity that set me on a wonderful career path, which to this day I am immensely thankful for.
How did the idea of Sleek Techniques come about?
Victoria and I knew from the start with Sleek Technique that we had created a highly effective, attainable series of conditioning workouts based on our dance training and 17 years professional dance careers so sharing it with as many women as possible was a priority for us. If you live in London or New York, there are an abundance of fitness classes and studios to attend but outside of these areas, getting a professional ballet dancer and expert trainer to lead you through your workout would be impossible, especially if you’re a rushed off your feet mum or busy career girl.
During the early stages of setting up Sleek, Victoria was still dancing with the Birmingham Royal Ballet while I was performing at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, which meant we had to do a lot of our Sleek planning and creating over Skype. One day I had a lightbulb moment that we could deliver our workouts in a similar way by bringing Sleek Technique online – being in your own home but still in a group environment with other women was the perfect balance and what all our clients love most about us.
What were some of the challenges and successes you experienced setting up Sleek Technique?
It’s safe to say that neither Victoria and I are technically gifted on computers! We’ve had to learn a lot about the techy side of Sleek Technique as we go which has proved interesting to say the least. Highlights are plentiful. It really is so rewarding when a stranger tells us the great things they’ve heard about Sleek or when we see our clients transforming their bodies and gaining strength and confidence by each workout. Collaborating with Sweaty Betty on their Get Fit 4 Free campaign has been incredible. We created the Sleek Ballet Bootcamp class, which will be delivered online and in stores across the UK throughout February and Mark 2014. Victoria and I kick the US side of the campaign off next month when we fly to New York to host a class in the Sweaty Betty store in SoHo.
You met your Sleek business partner/friend Victoria Marr while dancing when young. Did you ever talk about going into business together?
Vicky and I became friends when we met at ballet school at 11 and trained side by side for the next six years. Whilst I can’t recall us talking about going into business together back then (we were focused on establishing our 17 year dance careers!) a history like ours makes building a business together so much easier. We have an equally high work ethic…but giggle a lot too!
Did you ever see yourself going down this career path?
Despite the fact that it takes huge amounts of dedication, sweat and resilience, I always knew I wanted to be a professional dancer. I also have a First Class Honours Degree in Literature, which I studied for over six years whilst still dancing and performing. Putting the hard work into running my own business meant it had to be in some way involved with dance and Sleek Technique is the perfect combination of that for me.
Why would you recommend Sleek Technique/barre to someone?
Even if you have never done ballet before, Sleek is an incredibly effective way to workout, based on the techniques pro dancers have used to tone and strengthen their bodies for years. Aside from getting you in great, dancer body shape, Sleek has a strong focus on muscle symmetry, good posture and injury prevention. Improvements with these become visible outside of the studio and our Sleekers find themselves standing, sitting and moving differently in everything they do. Our Sleekers have also seen amazing improvements with back pain, hip and shoulder issues to name but a few as well as visible transformations in their posture, carriage and overall physique.
What are the benefits of Sleek Technique and barre compared to a normal gym class?
We work all the muscle groups with a focus on switching them on in the right order to encourage good technique and maximum benefit from every exercise to sculpt out a lean, toned physique. We spend a lot of time correcting posture and stretching out muscles as they are used to increase flexibility and maintain supple joints, which in turn, lengthens out muscle aesthetic so there is no bulk.
Everyone can benefit from working smarter – not harder! We also know women have busy lives so you can do a body productive Sleek class with us, motivating you through it, wherever you happen to be, in as little as 30 minutes from load up to shutdown of your computer, smartphone or tablet, which in today’s busy world is a genuine benefit.
What Sleek Technique classes would you recommend for a barre beginner?
Beginners Ballet Bootcamp is a great intro to Sleek as are our Classical Cardio Intro On Demand Workouts. No equipment required – just have a chair handy to act as your barre. There are no pointe shoes or tutus involved either. Sleek is a totally accessible dance fitness method for all women.
To really make big changes and reshape your body, you should do a variety of Sleek workouts at least three times a week. Enjoy your classes. If you love how you workout, you are much more likely to stick to it and achieve your goals. Eat a healthy, balanced diet so you have the right energy levels to exercise. And hydrate your body. Sipping water throughout the day stops your muscles feeling tired and tight.
Do you have any helpful tips on how to turn your dreams into reality?
Don’t be afraid of hard work. Embrace it. Whatever it is that you are wanting to achieve whether it be a new career, buying a house, moving to a new country, then speak to people: family, friends and colleagues. Ask their advice, introduce yourself to suitable contacts. You’d be surprised how willing people can be to offer their experience up if you approach them in the right way. Finally, be patient for the long run – quick fixes and flash in the pan efforts are little good to anyone.