Monday, September 26, 2011

SLT: A New Fitness Studio

SLT stands for Strength Length Tone and it is a brand new workout that its owner, Amanda Freeman, (co-founder of Vital Juice, the popular healthy living daily email) brought over from California, where it goes by Pilates Plus or SPX Fitness. Last week Amanda invited me to try a class and I was excited to learn more about the method.

Located in a one room studio on 57th Street, in midtown Manhattan, this 50 minute class revolves around the Megaformer, which is the evolution of the Pilates reformer. It is designed using a number of springs and pulleys that can be adjusted to vary the resistance. The Megaformer has a stationary platform and a moving platform and most of the exercises in this class used the instability of the moving platform to provide a killer workout.

The class size is small. When I went there were four other ladies present, although up to ten clients can be accommodated  Before the class began our instructor, Kristeen, gave us a brief introduction to the Megaformer and how to manipulate the springs during the class. This was important because we varied the springs (and resistance) frequently during the class. We started off doing lunges with one leg on the ground and the opposite leg bent on top of the moving platform, using the strength of the standing leg to glide the moving platform back and forth. Trust me that this is much harder than it sounds!


Other exercises included standing on top of the Megaformer with one leg on the moving platform and the other leg on the stationary platform and doing squats. The instability of doing squats on the moving platform made my inner thighs feel like they were on fire.  We did donkey kicks with pulleys looped around our feet for added resistance. We also utilized the pulleys for arm work, doing lat pull-downs and triceps extensions. While there was no specific abdominal section, core strength was emphasized throughout the class. The "mermaid crunch" was a particularly brutal exercise where we held onto the handlebars while keeping our body in a side-plank and then proceeded to glide the moving platform back and forth. Holy obliques!

Mermaid crunch- source

The Good:
1. The class: This class is very different from anything I have taken before. The movements are slow but the resistance work allows for great strength training. The class had elements of cardio, Pilates and strength training and it was challenging from start to finish.

2. The instructor: When working with equipment it's imperative that the instructor keep an eye on the clients. Kristeen was constantly making hands-on corrections (which all of us newbies needed).

The Not-so-Good:
1. Requires a learning curve: The Megaformer is not intuitive and there were times I was frustrated when I could not adjust the handlebars or found myself positioned incorrectly. This is to be expected given it was my first time. I am sure this would improve on subsequent classes.

2. The class layout: The set up of the Megaformers is not newcomer-friendly. We are supposed to follow the instructor but her Megaformer was in the same row as mine, two over. Which meant I couldn't really see her which added to my frustration. Maybe having the instructor's Megaformer positioned at the head of the class so that all clients can see the instructor may be more helpful, especially for beginner-level classes.

This is a really challenging class and once I got the hang of the Megaformer I really enjoyed it. I loved that this class incorporated both cardio and strength training. My legs and upper back were sore for the next two days. Exercises are switched up in every class. My class was more lower-body intensive. I do wish that we had done more arm work but the intense thigh and seat work totally made up for it! First-time clients can try a class for $20.

Thanks very much to Amanda Freeman for inviting me to try this class!

Disclaimer: I was invited to try a class free of charge but was not obligated to provide a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed herein are my own.