Have you heard of a “Megaformer?” I hadn’t either, until I discovered SLT (Strengthen Lengthen Tone), a fast growing chain of workout studios owned by Amanda Freeman in New York City. With a degree from Harvard Business School and a background in trend forcasting, it only makes sense that Amanda would be the one to find and bring the Megaformer to New York City. SLT is unique…each class is a small group setting (about 12 people) and each person is on their own Megaformer machine. The workout is different too. They say if “cardio, strength training and pilates had a baby…it would be SLT!” When you see Amanda, who recently did have a baby, you’ll want to run to SLT as quickly as possible!

I was looking for the Pilates body, but in a high energy, loud, sweaty, and small-group environment. The Megaformer was the answer. It’s unique in that it’s a low-impact, but heart-pumping, muscle-shaking workout that gets you the lean, toned results you want.” –Amanda Freeman

At LivLight, we always like to know what people eat and what they wear! Here is a day in the life of Amanda Freeman’s eating and some of her favorite activewear pieces!

“I consider myself “healthy, not healthy.”  For the most part, I happen to like healthy things like oatmeal, quinoa, and salmon. But I have a serious sweet tooth, a peanut butter addiction and a Challah obsession. So, here’s a sample day…”

Breakfast – Oatmeal with tons of toppings (raspberries, blueberries, peanut butter, flax seeds, etc.) and a Matcha Latte

Snack – Apple + peanut butter (yes, more peanut butter)

Lunch – Turkey meatballs + salad + something chocolate

Snack – A piece of Challah with cream cheese

Dinner – Salmon with a quinoa side + lentil salad side + something chocolate

Amanda’s top activewear picks… 

Check out www.sltnyc.com or watch this cool video https://vimeo.com/100326634 for more info, and read on for my interview with Amanda about how she started SLT, becoming a mom and so much more…

Also, be on the lookout for an SLT near you soon…luckily for the rest of us (outside of NYC) they are expanding nationally and internationally!

Interview with Amanda Freeman, Founder and Owner, SLT

SLT is very different from most group exercise classes. For readers who are not familiar, can you explain the format and tell a little bit about the megaformer?

SLT is unique both in that the workout is unparalleled and the results speak for themselves. It offers an amazing combination of cardio, strength training and Pilates in a workout that is both challenging and fun.

SLT uses a very specialized machine called the Megaformer. The Megaformer is a significant evolution of the Pilates reformer, with many more straps, cords, handle bars and holes. There are hundreds of moves that can be done on it, thus making the workout varied and continuously challenging. And it uses springs to create constant tension and instability – a key to the workout.

One of the keys to the SLT workout is that it is done slowly, in order to work your slow twitch muscle fibers.  They are responsible for strengthening your muscles without the appearance of bulk – thus the lengthening results.

The fitness world seems to grow and change daily. Why did you choose this type of exercise and how does it differ from everything else out there.

Yes, the fitness world has exploded in the past 5 years and it’s been thrilling to be a part of it.  I chose to open a Megaformer-based studio because I truly believed in the effectiveness, safety, enjoyment and results of it.

I was doing a variety of workouts, but had become disillusioned by the results I was seeing on people who frequented many of the most popular studios in NYC.  I was looking for the Pilates body, but in a high energy, loud, sweaty, and small-group environment.  The Megaformer was the answer.  It’s unique in that it’s a low-impact, but heart-pumping, muscle-shaking workout that gets you the lean, toned results you want.

Making a major career move and opening SLT was very brave of you. What inspired you to take the leap and start a new business, and how did past experiences/jobs help you in your new endeavor?

The minute I met the Megaformer, I knew it would be a hit in NYC. But, I was running another business at the time (a healthy living daily email called Vital Juice…RIP!) and tried to convince friends in the fitness space to do it.  But, when they passed, I realized someone else would do it if I didn’t and that would just kill me to witness.

I was well-prepared for SLT based on my experiences as a trend forecaster, my business school learnings and my exposure to the fitness industry.  That said, I had so much to learn about managing a team of instructors, being an instructor myself, building out a space, etc.

What challenges did you face in starting a new company and how did you overcome them?

Where do I start?!  There have been countless challenges along the way, but two of the earliest ones include:

  • Finding a space and committing to a long-term lease is difficult and scary.  What’s the best location?  How much can I afford to pay?  Am I comfortable signing a personal guarantee?  No space is perfect and you can second guess every option, but at a certain point you have to weigh the pros and cons and choose one.  I ended up with a space on 57th Street. While it wasn’t my ideal location, the rent was reasonable and it was a shorter-term lease, which made me feel more comfortable taking a risk.
  • I hadn’t planned on being an instructor myself, but about a month into it, an instructor called at 10:30 PM to cancel teaching the 6:30 AM class the following morning.  I had no instructor options, so I had to teach the class myself. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and it wasn’t the best class, but in the end it was very important for me to be an instructor.

Since becoming a mom, what changes have you made in order to find balance in your work and family lives.

Balance is not how I’d describe it.  In life you make choices and trade offs and you determine the mix of how your time is spent.  Since having a baby, some of the things I used to enjoy had to go (reading the Sunday Times) and others got condensed (exercise, sleep, shopping, etc.).

The first few months of motherhood I tried to multi-task, but that wasn’t working…I was half-assing everything.  Instead it’s about compartmentalizing…first thing in the morning is Flynn time, then it’s work time, then exercise time, then Flynn time, then work again or going out.

How often do you take SLT classes and how have you seen it change your body? 

I take SLT 3-4 classes per week (when I can get spots).  I’ve been doing the workout for 5 years now, so at first I saw a major change in everything from abs/obliques to glutes to triceps.  Before baby, I had a 6-pack and I’m working my way back slowly, but surely.  And as I continue doing it I keep getting stronger, longer and more toned. 😉

Do you incorporate other types of fitness in your regimen or solely stick to SLT?

I like to mix it up a bit.  I do SLT 3-4 times per week (assuming I can get into class).  On my off-days, I try to do yoga (with the.best.yoga.instructor.ever Erin Jacques), run/walk, and mix in a fun class like Barry’s Bootcamp, 305 Fitness or Bari.

How do you like to mix in your fitness apparel with your regular (non-activewear) clothing? 

Most days I wear workout clothes all day long, so making fitness gear work as everyday clothing is key.  Pretty much every outfit is part fitness gear, part casual wear.  Picture…

  • Black spandex pants (Nike) + fun color (or pattern) sports bra (The Upside) + loose-fitting tank top (James Perse) with a long-sleeve denim top (3×1)
  • Or…patterned capri spandex pants (Lucas Hugh) + solid sports bra (Splits59) + black tank top (Alala)

And cute sneakers (not necessarily workout sneakers) are a must both practically and fashionably…I love GGDB’s!

Owning your own business (and, being a mom!) can often be all-consuming. How do you incorporate self-care into your daily or weekly routine? 

I certainly “care” a little less about myself these days!  Ha!  I suck at doing my own hair, so one of my biggest indulgences has been having someone else blow dry my hair.  Since I had Flynn, blowouts happen in my apartment where I can sit on my computer getting work done and be around my daughter instead of going to a salon and reading a magazine to zone out.

Otherwise, I go a little bit longer between pedicures, bikini waxes, facials, etc., but I know it’s important not to let it all slip entirely.

For those readers looking to take the leap and follow their dream of a career change or starting a new business, what advice would you offer them? 

I’m a practical person, so the first thing I would advise is to do a lot of legwork and exploration before making a move.  While I’m all for risk-taking, a calculated risk is the way to go.  Make sure that you are passionate about the new endeavor and willing to work very hard to pursue it.  Often times a move to something new requires a great deal of sacrifice, so be sure you are in a position for potentially enduring a pay cut or starting from the bottom in another field or whatever the change mandates.

Finally, what’s up next for SLT?!? 

Expect to see more studios in more cities and towns both nationally and internationally