The pull of running a dance studio in Australia wasn’t quite as appealing as making a mark in her hometown, Burnley. We get it.
So, we caught up with Lauren Stott, owner of Unique Dance & Fitness, to find out why she built her empire in Burnley, talk Aerial Hoop and the influence of The Greatest Showman, and attracting dance influencers from TV and Instagram to Burnley.
There’s nowhere quite like your hometown…
Lauren has always been a dancer. From age 3 throughout school at St. Hilda’s and then eventually studying for a fitness NVQ at Burnley College followed by a personal training degree at UCLan Burnley, Lauren has always kept her dance journey close to home, with everything she needed to climb the ladder right on her doorstep.
After travelling in Australia for two years and picking up some classes whilst out there, she was offered a studio of her own. As temping as this was, the pull of the north west brought her back:
“I got homesick and wanted to come back to Burnley. I’d always thought about owning my own studio and if that was going to happen, I wanted it to be in my hometown, rather than somewhere I didn’t know too well, as amazing as Australia is!”
After Lauren returned from her travels, she did just that. She rented a studio space with an outside terrace above Mr Green’s and Unique Dance & Fitness was born, offering dance, pole and fitness classes.
Fast-forward a couple of years and after making a name for herself and building an army of loyal followers, Lauren outgrew the studio and set her sights on a new space, just down the street.
Stumbling upon the newly refurbished studio in the town centre is like finding a hidden gem for fitness fanatics; a loft space that wouldn’t look out of place in Manchester or even New York. It’s that good.
The Greatest Showman has put Aerial Hoops on the fitness map
The new high celling space has also allowed Lauren to extend her class offering to Aerial Hoops – an impressive fitness class which blends strength, balance and flexibility… in hoops, six feet off the ground.
The hype around the Oscar-winning film has catapulted aerial hoop classes as the must-do fitness class for all ages. With sold out classes weekly at Unique Dance & Fitness, it’s easy to see the popularity of this latest trend.
“As well as it being a fun way to keep fit, there are loads of health benefits with aerial hoop classes; building upper body strength and a good workout for the core, plus, it’s a good way to meet new people, and interact as classes are run two people to a hoop.”
Lauren also regularly arranges for some of these classes to be turned into ‘show pieces’ – an opportunity for the young people in her classes to build on their confidence and show off their new skills.
Dance and fitness influencers from around the world are popping into Unique
It’s not surprising to hear that Lauren’s impressive studio space has attracted one-off workshop classes from the likes of Pierre Lafayetta-Marsh from BBC’s The Greatest Dancer and world-renowned pole dance champion, Bianca Brencic.
“I contacted Bianca through Instagram and she came all the way from Russia to run a class for us and Pierre was contacted the same way too. It was amazing to have them here after admiring their dance skills from my phone and TV!”
Social media plays a huge part in growing Unique Dance & Fitness. Without even a website, Lauren has successfully managed to get her business out there through Facebook and Instagram and has attracted hundreds of avid dance and fitness enthusiasts from all over the region.
Keen to add inspiration from other talent closer to home, Unique Dance & Fitness also plays host to classes from International Cheerleading champion, Faye Mitchell and Pilates classes from Sharon Jones.
Unique was born and bred in Burnley. Fact
When asked if she would ever consider moving her business out of Burnley…
“I’d love to open additional studios abroad, maybe somewhere like Dubai, but this Burnley studio is the backbone of Unique and I’d never even think about taking it out of the area to relocate somewhere else in the country. It’s so friendly in the town and that’s the vibe of our studio – everyone is made to feel welcome, no matter what age, ability or size.”
The friendly nature of the town is such that Lauren pops into other dance studios in Burnley from time to time and is welcomed as a dance enthusiast, just like anyone else.
Now, you can’t say that about many other places, can you…