On Friday afternoon, I had a humbling first experience at SLT. I’d heard quite a bit about this studio over the last year but somehow hadn’t visited yet. Almost everyone that talks about SLT, including instructors from other studios, agrees that it’s difficult. But it’s difficult in a hurts-so-good and real-abs-in-one-class sort of way. I was nervous for my first class, but I’m always up for a new challenge.
By this point, you’re probably wondering what makes SLT so infamous. SLT, or Strengthen Lengthen Tone, is “whole body fitness fused into one mega machine.” All SLT classes revolve around a piece of equipment called the Megaformer. It’s similar to a pilates reformer in that it has springs and a carriage, but the Megaformer has so many more attachments. It includes cables, straps, handles, and other attachments that allow you to creatively work all muscle groups. However, I found the Megaformer less intimidating to navigate than a traditional reformer. Maybe I owe that confidence to my instructor, Caitlin Krause. People have been raving about Caitlin, both a dancer and a runner, on Rate Your Burn, so I was eager to see if she lived up to the hype.
My 50-minute class was at SLT’s Midtown studio. While there aren’t many boutique fitness studios in Midtown, it was refreshing to head to 57th Street below Central Park for a Summer Friday workout. The studio, which is on the 8th floor, is one large room in total. I typically feel cramped when a studio combines the reception area with the class area, but it works for SLT because each student is confined to a small space on his or her Megaformer. After signing in on an iPad, Caitlin introduced herself and gave me a very thorough introduction to the machine, including modifications and safety tips. SLT classes allow 10 students max, but my class wasn’t full (probably because I was there during working hours). This gave Caitlin ample time to spend correcting and challenging each student.
While class was difficult, I was surprised at how quickly it flew by. We started in a plank position on our elbows with our knees on the carriage and did a series of exercises sliding our knees in and out. I’ve mentioned before on the blog that plank variations are my biggest fitness weakness. I should have known that this class would be filled with them. After warming up, the majority of class consisted of a long series of lower body exercises that we repeated on both sides. I can’t remember the entire sequence, but it included many lunges, squats, and leg raises with one foot/leg on the carriage. We held various straps and handles while completing them, and I was shaking the entire time. The weight transfer, resistance, and slow pace involved in using a Megaformer are what makes it so difficult. The end of class was spent working on abs. We did variations of crunches with our legs in stirrups and returned to dreaded plank variations. I did well with most exercises, but one was particularly difficult. We were in a side plank with our elbow on the carriage and had to slide using our obliques. Holy hard.
Caitlin did an excellent job guiding me through class on the Megaformer and offering form corrections. She spoke to each student by name and made sure to give positive feedback. Caitlin has a great personality for a fitness instructor. She’s enthusiastic without being too peppy. However, her firm voice makes you want to work harder and her constant presence won’t let you off the hook.
I’m excited to see that SLT will be opening a studio in my neighborhood, the Upper East Side, in the near future. Now that I know how to use the equipment, I’m encouraged to try another class. Maybe next time with one of my Facebook favorites, Liz Barnet.
NOTE: SLT allowed me to visit for a free class, but I was in no way compensated to review it on my blog. These are honest opinions.