An Interview with Amanda Freeman, Founder of SLT

One of the biggest parts of getting your shit together is having a role model who knows what the fuck she’s doing but makes it look easy. For that reason, I sat down for green juice with Amanda Freeman, founder and owner of SLT, otherwise known as Pilates on crack.

After graduating from Harvard Business school (what, like it’s hard?), Amanda was working as a trend forecaster when she discovered a megaformer class on a trip to LA. A megaformer is sort of like a Pilates reformer except it makes the Pilates machine seem like it’s for 10 year old pussies in comparison. Anyway, tired of flying out to LA to get a good workout, Amanda decided to bring the megaformer home so New York City betches could experience the magic of SLT. This betch is on her shit, running six studios in less than three years, with three more that are in the process of opening.

When I tried SLT, I was legitimately sore for three days afterward. The workout was probably the hardest yet most efficient 50 minutes of my life. The class was hard as fuck and the only thing keeping me going was seeing that everyone around me looked like a model or a dancer…that and the fact that my ass never looked better after less than an hour’s work. I interviewed Amanda to get a little more insight into how to get your shit together while still looking young and hot in the process.

What’s your biggest issue in running so many studios?

My biggest challenge growing at the pace that we are, is identifying, attracting and retaining the best talent out there.  With over 40 instructors, as well as corporate staff, it’s difficult to keep everyone happy, engaged and growing at SLT.  I am the type that likes to keep people happy and that is not easy when working with so many types of personalities with different interests, goals and motivating factors.

Tell us a little more about being a woman in business.

I hate to say it, but I do think most women in business operate differently than men do. Women tend to be more risk-averse and less confident when starting businesses. From what I've seen, most women start businesses with a partner. When I was running my previous business (with a friend from business school), there was a trend where it seemed like every business was started by two women from Harvard Business School (Gilt Group, Rent The Runway, Birch Box). It’s tougher as a woman to have the confidence and courage to start a business by yourself. Women tend to want a partner to roll their ideas off of and to collaborate with.

What’s the best part about not having a business partner and essentially running something on your own?

Both scenarios have their pros and cons. The biggest pro is that having sole control over decisions allows for a quicker decision making process and often results that are less watered down.  Everything seems to take longer when you have to weigh in on multiple people’s opinions. If an opportunity or idea comes up that I feel good about pursuing, with the help of the SLT team, we can get right to it.

What is wrong with regular Pilates that it wasn't enough for you!?

While I wanted beautiful Pilates body results, I would take Pilates privates and feel like I had to work out again after the sessions were over. I didn't sweat, get my heart-rate up or work muscles in a way that I could really feel. Pilates was too slow moving, boring and expensive for me to stick with. The first time I stepped onto a Megaformer, I felt like I'd found my workout. I could see how it achieves the results I wanted while really targeting and burning out the muscles I wanted to work, while also getting my heart pumping. And the results speak for themselves. A strong, long and toned look is just what I was after. SLT works every muscle in your body as opposed to just some of them, and we tend to work at a very slow pace, a 4 count in order to activate and work your slow twitch muscle fibers. That's what leads to the long, lean results, rather than bulky muscles. 

The Megaformer is amazing at working everything from abs to obliques and glutes and inner thighs in ways you've never worked them before. We love to hear first time clients say that they worked muscles they didn’t know they had.

How often should you go to SLT? This sounds like a lot of work to be doing everyday. 

We don't recommend doing it every day, every other day is ideal. SLT works to fatigue your muscles to failure. As a result, you should give your muscles time to repair themselves. That's when your body makes the muscular changes you are looking for.

Do I have to be skinny to try SLT?

Obvi, not! We have clients of all shapes and sizes. That said, it is a challenging workout, so some workout experience is definitely recommended. 

We do tend to have a very attractive and in shape looking clientele.  And true, many of them come to SLT already in great shape. However, the combination of cardio, strength training and Pilates that our method incorporates makes SLT great for burning both fat and toning muscles. There's a common misconception in fitness having to do with cardio and how to best burn fat. People think you have to be doing something high impact in order to get your cardio. However, when I’m doing SLT (a low impact workout) my heart rate is always up and I’m constantly moving and that's the best form of cardio in my opinion.

If I’m an SLT devotee what’s going to be the hottest part of my body?

It’s core based so this is THE workout for your abs. This is your go-to for crop top season.

Can I bring my boyfriend?

Please do…he'll be humbled and will love it! Although a majority of our clientele are female, once a guy tries it, he'll be obsessed. It's often harder to get a guy in either because he doesn't like classes or thinks it's just for chicks, but the workout challenges guys in a different, often more intense way than it does women. They go into their first class thinking they’re in sick shape but leave realizing they have a lot of work to do on certain muscles they've been neglecting (abs, obliques, glutes). Guys tend to focus on working their arms, but they neglect their core and this workout will make that very apparent.

So like, do you have to work a lot?

Our studios are open 365 days a year and up to 13 hours a day, so it's certainly a full time gig!

What celebs have tried SLT?

We love our clients and have some celebrities in the mix.  Models (and their agencies) tend to dig SLT, especially given the recent focus on models having more muscular and toned bodies on runways and in magazines. Celebrities like Sofia Vergara, Kira Sedgwick, and Alessandra Ambrosio love the Megaformer.

How do you work out on the side (if you work out other than SLT)?

I take SLT classes every other day.  So I do mix in some other workouts that I also enjoy.  I took up running 5 years ago and have run a bunch of half marathons and one full NY marathon this past year.  So, especially when it’s nice outside, I like to run (or run/walk) outside once or twice a week.  I also like to do yoga with my favorite yoga guru, Erin Jacques.  She’s the one and only yoga instructor I will take in NYC.  In the summer, paddle boarding and tennis enter the mix.  Other than that, I enjoy taking a new class every so often to spice up my workouts and challenge my body to do something it’s not used to.

What's your juice of choice?

I’m a pretty big eater, so juice doesn’t usually fill me up.  I tend to drink juices most when I’m on the go or teaching classes/taking classes a lot.  In those instances, there isn’t time to sit for a proper meal and there isn’t time to digest something heavy.  My go-to favorite juices are either from Juice Press (Love at First Sight – green apple, kale, spinach, lemon, and ginger) or a fresh made concoction at Miss Lily’s Juice Bar.

What music do you listen to when you work out?

When I work out, I usually listen to the same music I use when I teach SLT class (remixed versions of popular and once popular music) mixed in with cheesy songs that only I will love.  Right now my playlists feature The Mother We Share by CHVRCHES, Feel The Love by Rudimental, Fancy by Iggy Azalea and an awesome version of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean featuring Kanye West.

Whats your favorite healthy meal in NYC?

My favorite healthy meal in NYC is at Souen. Souen is a macrobiotic restaurant in my neighborhood (there are a few) that delivers…jackpot! I can’t get enough of their Macro Plate (a grain, carrots, squash, broccoli, beans, and seaweed) with the best carrot or tahini dressing you’ve ever tasted. Not a big crowd pleaser, but I can’t get enough.

What food is your guilty pleasure?

My biggest guilty pleasures are dessert…dark chocolate anything (made less guilty at Hu Kitchen with their dark chocolate, almond butter, quinoa bars)…and chicken parmesan at The Palm or a great Italian restaurant. So good, but thanks to menu laws, I now know, soooo many calories.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give to a betch trying to get her shit together?

Confidence – fake it till you make it. I was not an exercise instructor when I started SLT and now I am. That could’ve very easily stopped me from deciding to open a studio. Women have a huge confidence issue when it comes to business. Men ask for raise. They’ll apply for a job that they’re not qualified for or only partially qualified for. They’ll only have 6/10 requirements but they’ll apply anyway. Women are much quicker to say what they’re not good at or what they can’t do.


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