Crash Course: SLT (short for Strengthen Lengthen Tone) is one of the local mega brand megaformer studios with four locations in New York City and one in the Hamptons. The classes use the pilates-based Lagree Method to deliver a low impact but high intensity workout. It’s a potent mix of cardio, strength training, stretching, and pilates. Movements are slow and controlled to work each muscle group to fatigue. Prepare for some serious shakes, a lot of sweat, and an incredible soreness in some pretty unique places. For a full schedule of classes at SLT, check out their website.
where: 137 5th Avenue 2nd Floor | Flatiron
perks: small class size, towel
sweat score: 7 out of 10
wear: recommend bare feet and spandex pants
instructor: Lauren Michaeli
cost: $20 first class, $40 drop in
People are stark raving mad for the megaformer. Drawn to the sexy branding and the very real fact that this workout will humble even the most honed athlete, studios delivering the muscle-quivering workout are packing classes in cities all over the country. I mean, my hometown studio [SolidCore] in DC can’t open studios fast enough to meet the demand. It’s just that good.
New York’s SLT is also rising to the occasion by expanding to a new studio in the popular Flatiron district – which has been rightly dubbed the fitness mecca of Manhattan since almost every studio + juice bar has a location there (or is eyeing one). I was invited to check out the shiny new space and take a free preview class before it officially opened to the public. I hadn’t been on the megaformer since leaving DC and was itching to take one for a ride. Perfect timing!
SLT’s new Flatiron studio is located on the second floor, up a very short flight of stairs or a quick elevator ride. You’ll pop out into the lobby area, which is really just a small space with a bench and an umbrella stand. I thought this was the waiting are and awkwardly hung out here for a few minutes too long before I realized the rest of class was milling about inside near the front desk. Oops!
88888 Head into the studio space and check yourself in at iPad stand, and be sure to sign one of the standard fitness “I will not die in your class” waivers if it’s your first time. The front desk is stocked with a few fun amenities like hair ties, gum, and hand sanitizer so grab what you like and put your belongings away in a cubby to your left.
The rest of the studio expands into sleek white and gray walls, shiny wood floors, and mirrors. At the center of everyone’s attention, of course, are the black and red torture devices lying in wait in a tidy row down the center aisle. They are a bit ominous if it’s your first time, but I promise, they’re fun. In a masochistic, burn-baby-burn kind of way.
I grabbed a towel and claimed my spot. When I’m doing a fit crash I like to use machines in the back or on the ends so I can snap a few photos of the class during the workout. Although with the megaformer, balancing on a moving platform while doing a lunge and trying to snap a few action shots adds a whole new level of craziness to this process.
The music started pumping and we immediately got to work. There is no easing into these megaformer workouts. No gentle warm up or time to assess whether you really want to be on the device or not. You just get on and go.
One of the method’s signature traits is to totally shock your system so your muscles quickly reach that crucial point of failure. For this class, that meant kicking things off with a stark raving mad leg sequence of lunges, lunges, and more lunges until we could literally lunge no more. Switch sides. Repeat.
The Lagree Method uses pilates terms that may sound strange or confusing to new megaformer students. During class you might hear a teacher yell out “MERMAID!” or “BEAR!” – do not be alarmed. They are just cueing you into a burn-tastic new move, not warning you of impending contact with a mythical creature or beast. Although at that point in the workout you might feel like a mermaid or a bear, depending on how things are going.
While the class quickly transitions from move to move on the machines, the exercises themselves are done at a brutally slow pace. This ensures that every last fiber of your muscles is engaged. It also ensures a total tush kicking and minimizes any room for cheating. There is no phantom-turning of the spin dial in this class. You’re either in it or you’re not.
Our instructor Lauren was like our own personal cheerleader throughout the 50 minute class. She corrected form, told stories, encouraged us to reach further and squeeze tighter, and even managed to incorporate some NSFW gangsta rap into the playlist. A total hoot.
I am a bit partial to SolidCore’s teaching method, which is a bit more intense, loud, and the instructors literally talk you through the entire class. Moments of silence when you’re bent in half trying to isolate a long lost muscle are really excruciating. You just want to hear a voice – any voice – to know you’re not dying and that someone is making sure you’ll physically make it through the next 50 minutes. But every studio has their style and that’s what makes it fun. I’m totally new to SLT and look forward to seeing more of how they bring their own flare to it.
We finished class with a few stretches on the machine. My child’s pose felt more like a total submission to the almighty humbling power of the megaformer. Everything burned, my triceps, abs, and bum in particular. Guess that’s a clear sign I need to get back on this gorgeous torture machine soon. I have some work to do!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the megaformer workout is fantastic and would be my go-to if it were something I could afford on a regular basis. But at $40 a pop, megaformer studios are some of the most expensive forms of boutique fitness. Which is frustrating because it is so good and the low-impact, high intensity is perfect for my bum knee. That said, if you can fit it into your budget – go. I can’t recommend this workout enough.