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Pioneers Of Online Dance Fitness – Exclusive Interview With Victoria Marr And Flik Swan

After 20 years at the top of the professional dance world, Victoria Marr and Flik Swan brought their combined expertise in dance and fitness together and pioneered the first online dance fitness business in the UK. Laying the groundwork for many others to follow, they continue to bring creative, effective fitness to women everywhere regardless of location.

Image photo of Victoria Marr and Flik Swan

Victoria Marr and Flik Swan, Co-Founders of Sleek Technique

Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.

Victoria - We are Victoria and Flik, both former professional dancers, friends since we met as young girls at ballet school and the co-founders of Sleek Technique Ballet Fitness. After over 30 years of friendship and 11 years in the fitness business together, we could probably introduce each other better than we could ourselves. Shall we do it that way around?

Victoria - My first memory of Flik is of her standing on stage belting out a solo from The Wizard of Oz. She had just joined our school and was confident, outgoing and sparky. Getting to know her I realised we shared the same passion, determination, work ethic and wicked sense of humour and we became firm friends. After we graduated Flik’s pro dancing career took off instantly and saw her dancing lead roles in many of the top West End shows and working for some of the best choreographers and directors in the industry. I always felt insanely proud watching her on stage. She looked so at home, a born performer. 

Even with each of us dancing out our careers across the globe we always touched base and remained friends. Going into business together was a decision we came to 20 years later when we both started to think about the ‘what next?’ Lots of people warn about mixing business with friendship but in our case, it couldn’t have worked better. This is in huge part to the support we lend each other, the understanding we have of one another and the fact that we align on so many things both work and life-related. That said we are very different people but perhaps the Ying to each others Yang shall we say. 

Flik balances her determination and drive with making time for her own well-being and the well-being of those around her. Like me, she is super family-orientated but alongside this she is always developing her skills and continues to learn and grow personally which I so admire. What can I say, I feel incredibly lucky to have her on my team.

Flik - Victoria is nothing less than a tour de force in every area of her life. She is inspiring to those around her, myself included, and always has been. Whilst we were training together, her talent as a young dancer shone through. It wasn’t just that she was so good technically, she had something extra, an ability to make each step feel completely effortless so you became totally involved in her performance. It was very obvious she was going to be incredibly successful in her chosen profession of classical ballet, which of course her career with Birmingham Royal Ballet proves. Her versatility as a dancer meant she performed an immense range of roles from very classical, romantic roles to dramatic, powerful characters, most memorably dancing the title role in the ballet Carmina Burana (I was fortunate enough to see her dance this and she really was show stopping). This versatility completely carries through her life, as a woman, mother, great friend and as co-director of Sleek Technique Ballet Fitness. 

11 years of running a business has its great rewards but also its challenges and without Victoria by my side, without us supporting each other, we may not have had the level of success and wonderful organic growth that we have had. We brainstorm rather than despair in any tougher times and always come out with a plan of action. Victoria has a really keen eye for detail, we tend to spot different things so we work well to bring the design of our workouts and brand together. I am so grateful for her in my life and as my business partner.

Victoria - Wow, can you introduce me everywhere we go please? ;)

What is your business name and how do you help your clients?

Sleek Technique. We are a ballet-based fitness method. An artistic, creative and effective way for women to work out regardless of their location. The online fitness concept is commonplace now but when we started 11 years ago no one else in the UK was doing it. Being first on the scene we quickly built up a fantastic community of ‘Sleekers’ in over 75 different counties who still trust us as their method of staying fit, supple and feeling great from ages 18 to 80.

Can you describe how Sleek Technique combines ballet principles with current fitness knowledge?

Flik - There are some really enjoyable workouts out there that say they are ballet based but in truth they often have very little associated with authentic, classical ballet exercises. Sleek actually combines the way professional dancers hone and tone their athletic, supple bodies with movements we ourselves practice to attain lean muscles and a strong cardiovascular system, alongside effective fitness moves and all in a way that anybody can do. Sleek workouts are for every woman to enjoy, regardless of level, experience, age or any other barrier you feel you may have.

What challenges did you face when transitioning from professional dance careers to launching Sleek Technique?

Flik - It’s fair to say that the physical, creative side of Sleek was flowing during our transition period and we had a lot of interest as our concept was relatively unexplored (ballet fitness was new to the market and online fitness classes almost unheard of). We had a wealth of dance and fitness knowledge and experience to put towards creating our method and people keen to learn about it. But we had next to no experience with the ’tech’ side of things! So building websites, having meetings with designers and developers, marketing companies, discussing SEO and so on was a whole new world and one where we would often come out of meetings, hoping the other had caught the majority of the important stuff needed to actually run an online business! Victoria is still better with that than I am… what takes me 5 times to finally understand only takes her 2!

Victoria - on a personal front it was a huge change moving from the world of theatre to running an online business. I really missed performing, more than I thought I would and it took me a while to embrace my new career path and identity. Again this was a juncture where having each other to lean on was so valuable. Flik was quicker to adapt than I was. She remained a beacon of positivity and helped me flip the script to really appreciate the benefits and freedom of running our own business.

Could you describe how Sleek Technique specifically targets and refines a woman's body without adding bulk?

Victoria - We don’t use any equipment, just your own body weight as resistance. We weave in stretching for each muscle group as it is worked to retain length, building only lean muscle and balancing strength with flexibility. 

Flik - Crucially we built our method with women in mind. That’s not to say men can’t do it but Sleek is designed for a woman’s body and it’s varied and fluctuating needs to maintain a great level of health and fitness.

What strategies do you employ to balance the demands of friendship and business partnership? 

Victoria - We often have calls that start with the prefix, ‘this isn’t a Sleek call.’ These are purely check-ins on how each of us is doing personally. What’s going on with our kids? Is anything or anyone stressing us out? It draws us back to us as friends and is an important factor in keeping us connected. 

Flik - We’re lucky that we know each other so well that it's very rare that we aren't already on the same page with things when it comes to making decisions about the business. On the odd occasion it happens we just talk through the pros and cons of each of our thoughts and find a compromise. Like in any healthy, strong relationship, communication is key.

What advice would you give to individuals who are considering starting their journey with ballet or fitness, but may feel intimidated or unsure where to begin?

Victoria - Nail the basics first. There are a few important positions of the feet and arms that we use a lot in ballet, they are the foundations and once you are familiar with them you can begin to flow through them with ease, engaging the correct muscles and getting the most out of every exercise.

Flik - We believe (and the research proves) that to stick to a workout routine longterm, you have to want to do that workout and love it! We have an entire library of streaming workouts and programs ranging from beginners to advanced to guide you through your Sleek journey. ‘Sleekers’ that start with us without any ballet experience whatsoever quickly advance, see amazing changes in their body and more energised just by committing to three 30 minute Sleek workouts a week. It is absolutely possible for anyone reading this to do that too.

Could you elaborate on the benefits of Sleek Technique beyond physical fitness, such as improving posture and preventing injuries?

Victoria - You can always spot a dancer in a crowd by their posture, it is synonymous with dance training. In ballet, there is always a strong focus on technique and correct alignment of the spine. We work to create good muscle symmetry to support this rather than over-developing any one area which can create imbalance and lead to injuries.

Flik - Our Sleek Ballet Bootcamp TM series and Cardio Ballet Blast classes incorporate some higher impact movements but predominantly we focus on low impact exercises with maximum results. We work bare foot in our ballet fitness classes, encompass every part of our body from head to toe keeping it strong, supple and resilient.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?

Victoria - Still keeping fit, healthy and active and hopefully still helping women of all ages to do the same with us. 

Flik - In great health and physical fitness, with even more knowledge and experience to impart to our Sleek community! PS. Can I add living near a beach, somewhere sunny into that too please?!

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