Since my last visit, SLT‘s popularity has boomed. Like my other fitness favorite, Refine Method, SLT has become a darling of the NYC fitness scene, and, like Refine, has proved that the smaller studios can be just as effective in amassing a loyal following. Classes run almost on the hour from 630 in the morning to 830pm (with the exception of a short afternoon break), and are often booked solid. Rumor has it that the studio will soon be opening its doors at a second location. When I first tried it I appreciated what a great workout it could but I felt some frustration with the MegaFormer (the studio’s updated version of a pilates reformer that the class is based off). I found it challenging (which I liked) but on a whole the experience just wasn’t enough to make me want to go back. I strongly believe that a good class is all about the instructor and in the past year the small studio has acquired a roster of rockstars, each with their set of devotees. Natalie Uhling is one such instructor, and after hearing everyone rave about her I decided it was time to make another trip to see if she could change my mind about SLT. Turns out, she could!
I got to the studio early and there was a class in session. Not knowing if I could walk in or not I chose to stand outside. Natalie, who has a cool bohemian/surfer chick vibe, was leading the class and intermittently hopping onto the MegaFormer to demonstrate the moves. On seeing me peer in, she came by the door with a smile (while continuing to lead her class) and beckoned for me to come in. It was a warm gesture and made me like her immediately.
Before class began Natalie asked who was new and proceeded to give instructions on how to maneuver the MegaFormer. The machine has a lot of springs, pulleys and handles and does require a quick primer in order to work it seamlessly. Once class began, it was one non-stop hour with me and my new favorite apparatus, the MegaFormer. The focus was definitely on the core but during the course of the hour we hit every part of the body. We chiseled our abs with the brutal pike/plank combo and toned our obliques with a mermaid crunch (side plank and knee pull-in movement). We used resistance-laden handles to do shoulder presses and triceps extensions. Pushing against the resistance of the platforms of the Megaformer gave side lunges and forward lunges a new meaning! The seat section was attacked with the fire hydrant move among other brutal variations.
The class is hard and you will sweat a lot but thankfully it won’t be impossible. This particular class was also easy to follow. Natalie would demonstrate an exercise and then also provide variations that could make it easier for the newbies as well as more difficult for the pros. Her cues were spot-on and I was able to transition between exercises effortlessly. This was different from my last SLT class where I kept stalling each time the machine had to be adjusted. The music in this class was amazing. There was some old, some new, some mash-ups/remixes and the class ended with Snoop’s “What’s my name”- a classic!
I loved this class but what really made it for me was Natalie. She has a fun-loving and infectious energy while at the same time a firm command of the room. She was ever-watchful of positioning, and provided gentle shifts in alignment that would make all the difference. She also gave out a lot of positive affirmation, which I always welcome. Especially when I am not the most graceful person in the room! “Everyone’s form is perfect right now!” she would beam from time to time. She’s one of those instructors who loves what she does and wants you to love it as much as she does. Well, she converted me. So much so that I am going to try and include a weekly SLT class in my regular schedule. I think it will compliment my marathon training perfectly and so have already booked my classes with her for the next few weeks!