Inspirational Woman: Vicki Anstey | Founder, Barreworks Studio & SAS: Who Dares Wins recruit

Vicki AnsteyVicki Anstey is the UK’s leading Barre expert and teacher.

She is the founder of the prestigious Barreworks studio in Richmond, London. Vicki and her dedicated team are truly a force to be reckoned with – training and working with some of the world’s top athletes and helping transform hundred’s of peoples lives every year through her work at Barreworks.

Vicki discovered the benefits of Barre over ten years ago. She found that not only did it improve her own shape, muscle tone and flexibility beyond recognition, but that it also increased her strength and stamina for other sports. During the process Vicki lost over 5 stone whilst also gaining physical and mental strength beyond her wildest dreams, which she credits this form of exercise with.

In August 2010, Vicki trained and qualified as a fully licensed instructor of the New York City Ballet Workout. The highly esteemed and world-renowned method helped to inspire Vicki to create Barreworks Ballet Workout. With overwhelming demand for her classes she opened Barreworks in Richmond and the rest as they say is history.

Vicki has carefully created and crafted an entirely unique programme incorporating aspects from standing barre, floor barre, deep core exercises and simple choreographed movement combinations. Vicki’s theoretical learning includes the in-depth study of anatomy, physiology (including the specific physiology of stretching), study of the skeletal muscles, posture, core stability and pre and post -natal exercise.

Vicki is currently a recruit on the current Channel 4 series of SAS: Who Dares Wins.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am a fitness expert and founder of London’s original Barre and Ballet Studio, Barreworks. My team and I train and work with some of the world’s top athletes, high-profile clients and help transform hundred’s of peoples lives every year.

I recently participated in series 4 of Channel 4’s ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins’ and became one of the first ever female recruits to qualify for the programme.

I have created and crafted an entirely unique barre fitness programme over the past 10 years incorporating aspects from standing barre, floor barre, deep core exercises and simple choreographed movement combinations. I have trained extensively in New York, where the barre scene is well-established, trained with New York City Ballet and brought a variety of other strength and conditioning disciplines into I have also studied anatomy, physiology (including the specific physiology of stretching), skeletal muscles, posture, core stability and pre and post-natal exercise.

I enjoy a very varied exercise regime (including weight training, Olympic lifting, running and military-style fitness). But barre has been the constant method under-pinning my strength, stamina and mental resilience. I believe there is no greater athlete than a ballet dancer. You’re working on stability and flexibility and strength, but you have this higher goal of control and aesthetics. Every sport and every individual keen to improve their performance or movement patterns can learn a tremendous amount from the discipline of ballet and barre.

 Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I studied French at University and loved it, but I always wanted to work in advertising. I began on a graduate scheme and worked my way up through a variety of different agencies and the client-side, creating national advertising campaigns for IKEA and Eurostar. I fell in love with the Lotte Berk method (the original barre method) and decided to train to teach the method and quit my advertising career. It was a huge gamble, but I saw so much potential in building a brand around the method and raising its profile in the UK. Turns out, it was a good move and barre has since flourished in the UK. When I set up the Studio, almost no-one had heard of barre. Now there are studios across the UK. I intentionally kept one location, rather than branching out because I believe in the depth of what we do and want to maintain the high quality of teaching we offer. We have since launched the only studio-based accredited Instructor Trainign Programme in the UK and have trainees come to train with us from all over the world.  We also lead the way with new formulas, adapting the method for men, athletes and in rehabilitation. Every single class you take at Barreworks, is different to the last and it is this variety (I believe) that keeps us at the forefront of the industry.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I set the studio up in a recession and every day is a challenge, but we have kept the business moving forward year on year. We keep the brand ‘clean’ and our reputation for quality is well-known. We value every single exchange with our clients and have a team that has remained with us for years – we have one of the lowest turnovers of staff of any Studio we know.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Reaching our 10 year anniversary is HUGE! And keeping our financial independence throughout makes me feel very proud. We are unique, agile, experienced and ever-changing. Attention to detail is so important – and you see this in the décor of the Studio, right through to the attention we give to clients when we train them. We are constantly monitoring individuals, modifying exercises as needed and reaching out to new audiences of different profiles.

Personally, my biggest achievement was becoming one of the first ever female recruits to participate in the Channel 4 show SAS: Who Dares Wins. I was able to apply and se the course al the way through because of the solid foundations I have built physically, but also the mental strength and determination that comes from running your own business.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I am a very determined person. I see things through and never give up. I think I also have good instincts and have learned to trust them over the years. When I set my business up, I taught 24 classes a week for three years, no holidays, very few days off. I have done every single job from cleaning, to marketing, teaching, running the accounts and DIY. Its what I had to do to establish the business and it really set my work ethic. Now having put blood, sweat and (literally) tears into the business, I will do anything to protect it and future-proof it.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I suppose I mentor my team at Barreworks, including my exceptional Studio Manager, who has worked her way up from being a freelance Yoga instructor, to training with me, teaching barre and now training others. She is the glue that holds my business together. I try to empower her and give her as much autonomy as I can. It’s a two-way relationship – I ofyten ask her to manage me!

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Sometimes I think women are their own worst enemy. That we perhaps perpetuate the gender gap and associated prejudices by constantly referring to them. We should all be judged on our own merit, irrespective of gender, so using it as a reference point for everything, I believe, has a negative effect.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

I don’t think I would change anything. My father always encouraged me to simply do my best in everything I did. To apply myself – and then relax and know that I had done everything in my control to affect the outcome. I have usually found that successes in my life have come when I have truly put the work in. IU may not have been the best, the smartest, the most talented, but I ALWAYS put the effort in and I think that counts double.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I’m excited to use my participation in SAS:Who Dares Wins as a platform to inspire more women to reach their physical and mental potential. To be a little grittier, more resilient. To know that they can do anything they set their mind to. It’s really a mindset thing. I’m not the fastest or the strongest, or the smartest. But I will pick myself up again and again and again. I think that makes all the difference.

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