If you’re looking for a tough workout with mega results you have to head to SLT which stands for strengthen, lengthen, tone. It’s been said that, “If cardio, strength training, and pilates had a baby…it would be SLT.” It’s also been said that SLT is, “Hard AF.” Okay, I said that…but it’s true. The walls even say “Better sore than sorry.” SLT is fifty minutes of sweat-inducing, muscle quivering, total body strengthening, lengthening, and toning. SLT is a total-body program that ties together cardio, strength training, and pilates. You can burn up to 700 calories in one class. You’ll learn their lingo which includes names like scrambled eggs, sexy back, catfish, mermaid, cobra, bear, and donkey kick. You do everything on the magical machine called a megaformer. I spoke with the founder, Amanda Freeman, to find out what inspired her to start one of the hardest workouts around.
What inspired you to start SLT?
From my first exposure to the Megaformer and the amazing workout that accompanies it, I was hooked. I had grown dissatisfied with the results of many of the workouts that were available in NYC. I was looking for a workout that delivered long, lean muscle tone. I wanted a “Pilates body,” but I didn’t enjoy Pilates at all. When I experienced a Megaformer class and saw what everyone who swore by the workout looked like, I knew I’d found what I was looking for. I had to have it in NYC.
However, I wasn’t eager to own and run a fitness studio. I was already running another business that I had co-founded. So, I tried to talk friends who were already in the fitness studio business to do it, letting me be a small partner in the business. When that effort failed twice, I decided I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if someone else brought the Megaformer to NYC and I wasn’t involved.
What were the first logistical steps you took to start a business?
I incorporated, came up with a name (not easy), developed the branding and website, and recruited instructors.
What is a day as Amanda like? Please walk me through a day!
Every day is so different, except Tuesdays…they are often very similar. On Tuesday’s after spending the early morning with my daughter at home, I try to take a 8:30 AM SLT class…if I can get a spot. I then catch up on emails and to-dos until my 10:45 AM call with our director of marketing and our publicist. And then it’s time for more emails and checking items off my to-do list. I meet with the director of operations and the director of training and development to talk about the month’s occupancy and revenue goals and where we are tracking. At 2 PM, we have our corporate staff meeting. Staff meetings are long. That is the one time a week when we all get together to download on everything. When these meetings are done, I have time to either check through more of my to-do list or schedule a meeting. I try to be home (5 blocks away) by 6 PM to hang out with my daughter for an hour or so before she goes to bed. Then on Tuesday nights, I either go to a mommy group meeting (Seedlings) or a Mahjong game night with a bunch of friends. By the end of Tuesday, I’m tired of meetings!
What are your responsibilities as CEO of SLT?
That is a very good question that I’ve actually never thought through. Ha! My overarching responsibility is to ensure that there is a clear vision for what the company is and where it is going. I am then tasked with translating the goals, brand and initiatives for the company to all constituents via leadership and inspiration.
More tactically, I have my hand in many things. I have four directors who report directly to me, so I speak with them often to help make decisions that fall under their areas. I oversee new studio buildouts and new business initiatives. I work with the accountant on all financial matters. I deal with our insurance needs. Is this boring yet?
Folks at SLT would probably tell you that I insert myself in all aspects of the business. I tell managers when I notice dust in their studios. I help clients sign up for classes. And so on.
What has been your proudest moment from your career so far?
My proudest moment was at this year’s SLT holiday party. It is the one day each year that everyone who works for SLT comes together in one place. I try to make a funny, but appreciative speech so that everyone knows how important they are to me and the company. But, this year, I was so struck by the sheer number of people who work at SLT (more than 100) and the conversations I had with folks I never really get to talk to about their love of the company, the brand, the workout and their colleagues.
What have you learned about yourself since founding SLT?
Because I have worn so many hats since the first day of SLT, I’ve learned my strengths and weaknesses. I can safely say, I’m not good at everything. There are things I absolutely abhor doing…like answering the studio phone when someone can’t come to a class they are signed up for that starts in 5-minutes. I am not good with delivering bad news.
What has been the biggest challenge and, on the flip side, the biggest reward of starting SLT?
I find the people management aspect of my job at SLT the hardest. Hiring, training, reviewing, and firing is tough stuff.
The biggest reward is hearing the impact of SLT on clients and staff. To hear that the workout has transformed someone’s body or that working at SLT has changed someone’s life is amazingly gratifying. It makes the hard work and tough times so worth it.
What is the most important characteristic for entrepreneurs to have?
Hmm…hard to pick just one. But, if I had to, I think the first thing an entrepreneur needs is passion. If you are not passionate, obsessed, in love and convinced of an idea, you will have trouble sticking with it through the ups and downs of a business.
Where are your favorite places to buy workout clothes?
What is in your gym bag?
Aquaphor (to keep my lips hydrated), Shobha Rosewater Freshening Cloths (for post-workout clean up), a That’s It fruit bar (in case I get hungry), Cyndibands(hair ties), and a S’well Water Bottle (always hydrating)!
How does working out and living well make you better at your career?
I stay sane by working out and living an overall healthy life. I would be a disaster if I didn’t.
It is also imperative that I embody the SLT brand. People assume that when you own and run fitness studios, all you do is work out. I wish! There are expectations that I am super fit. When I was early in my pregnancy, I felt the need to tell everyone I was pregnant, just so they didn’t think I was getting fat. Ha!
What is on your workout playlist?
Work from Home – Fifth Harmony
HandClap – Fitz and the Tantrums
Fast Car (Remix) – Jonas Blue
Right Now – Rihanna
Cake by the Ocean – DNCE
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
I wish I knew that everything that happens in your career leads to a future opportunity, so enjoy the ride…the ups and the downs.
What is on your desk right now?
It’s so random…Chia seeds, vitamins, an orange, and documents that need to be filed.
What is your morning routine?
My morning routine has changed dramatically since I had a baby. Gone are the days of first thing in the morning workouts. I now go right to my daughter when I wake up. I bring her into my bed for some hangout time. We read books, FaceTime friends and family, play with toys and sing songs. I feed her, get dressed for the day and head out to pick up breakfast and go to my office to deal with my to-do list. That’s an office day, but every day is different at SLT. That’s why I love it. I might head out to a suburb studio or meet with an instructor or an aspiring fitness entrepreneur. Who knows?!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t let fear drive your decisions.
What are you reading right now?
My emails. I haven’t read a book since I had my baby. When I have the chance, I will start reading the children’s book Wonder. I have heard amazing things about it.
What is your career advice for other young professional women?
Take the path of least regret. I always say that we regret the things we don’t do more than the things that we do. When in doubt, take the leap and if it doesn’t work out move forward.
Image courtesy of Amanda Freeman/SLT.