The ‘Sleek and Slender’ way to rejuvenate your life
In the late 90’s, going to a spa, gym or a health centre was seen as a luxury. Nonetheless, it was in that era that Sleek and Slender was born. What propelled it into existence and how has it stood the test of time?
Necessity is the mother of all inventions and that was true even for the proprietor of Sleek and Slender; Jane Baine. Having got married at a young age and having her first born soon after, Baine opted to become a stay-at-home mother. She enjoyed every minute of being there for her children. However, by the time she had her second and third child, her weight had started getting out of hand. Before long, she weighed an extra 20kgs and her clothes would not fit anymore. Also, her knees started hurting, she had a painful back and low energy levels.
“By the time I was 30 years, I was living in a body of a 60-year-old woman. Additionally, my lifestyle was wanting as I was neither eating right nor exercising. It was so bad that looking at myself in the mirror caused me distress because the person on the other side was akin to ‘dikuula’ – a man that entertained many communities in the 90’s. I wondered when it had got this bad. Thankfully, it was also my turning rather than breaking point. I spoke to the person in the mirror and vowed to turn my life around,” she narrates.
That led to an earnest search of solutions thus trying the gym, skipping and aerobics. However, Baine discovered that none fitted in well with her demanding lifestyle. While swimming was good, her hair and skin were getting affected- breaking and looking pale respectively owing to water treatment chemicals. She thus gave up on this too. It was only during one of her travels to the United Kingdom, as she normally did in her earlier years that Baine chanced on a centre with toning tables.
“After trying them, I was sold out, loving everything about them and what they do. They afforded me the ability to work out at my own pace, and they put you in a proper posture for the exercise which minimises chances of knee and back injury. Using these machines, my physical and mental health was given a boost.”
This comfort sowed a seed in Baine to create a similar centre in Uganda. Sharing the idea with her spouse, Baine’s passion was given a boost. She later travelled back to the UK to have a discussion with the toning table manufacturers on how to instruct others to use and maintain them. The knowledge I received was so vital and has helped me to maintain my tables for 23 years.
However, the birth of Sleek and Slender was not an overnight journey as Baine allowed it to marinate in her mind for five years. That was because she did not want to start in a place where she was not assured of continuous occupancy. “I did not want short term residence for say 6 months or a few years before the landlord feels I am making more than they are receiving thus asking me to leave. Until we got this place, I waited and when that was done, the to and fro communication with the manufacturers started. With enough knowledge about the toning tables, I was sold into starting this centre for the long haul.”
Baine is elated and feels privileged that Sleek and Slender has stood the test of time because at the beginning, she wasn’t completely sure. “The discouragement came, all sorts of things were said, but being here, coming to three decades, is a testimony for the cheerleaders and haters.”
The number of lives this place has touched is enough for Baine. Seeing one that came in limping, on clutches, or unable to get up this small flight of stairs. Then two to three weeks later, these clients can walk with ease, is amazing.
Even for herself, being in her 60s but feeling 30 is amazing. “This place reconfigured my whole being because previously, I was shy and an introvert but the nature of this work has made me come out of my shell. People want to talk to me for encouragement and a little explanation here and there.”
Additionally, Baine has also had to read a lot; about health, psychology, even to the point of studying stress management because I saw another need. “For example, while some people come with the need to lose weight, I see several underlying needs that must be met. Even the energy to get up every day and come to the centre is testimony in and of itself.”
Baine is also glad that her humble idea has caught the fancy of several others. For instance, some clients who have moved back to their cities of origin, such as Kigali, Canberra, and Dar-er-Salaam have started the same. “It is a joy to hold their hands where they need help.”
When all is said and done, Baine is thankful that it has and continues to be a learning process. “It has been a journey and I wish more people such as those of my age knew that self-care is important. That way, they will avoid issues such as non-communicable diseases. My desire is for more people to understand and undertake self-care as that will help in avoiding as well as reversing some conditions. The earlier we start, the better.”
Summarily, she is full of gratitude to God, her family and all her clients for all the goodness.