When we were younger, we were always told to think big; we’re still told that. Sometimes, though, big ideas come in small packages – and our partner American Express agrees. Over the next few weeks, we’re focused on featuring bespoke fitness destinations throughout New York that encourage us to go big, but Shop Small®. As we said recently – strong is the new skinny – so fitness and wellness has become a 360-degree experience, and the branding and lifestyle of that experience is everything. What you put inside your body is as important as what you’re doing at the gym, what you’re applying at night, what mantra you wake up with every morning, and even the splurges you’re allowing yourself to keep you sane. So go ahead, dream big by thinking small.
Boutique fitness studio SLT is a testament to the notion that muscle confusion, and mixing it up in fitness, is everything. Founder Amanda Freeman does just that, whether it’s mixing yoga with running, incorporating chocolate into her diet, or describing SLT as what would happen, “if cardio, strength training and Pilates had a baby.” That sounds like one awesome baby.
But seriously: SLT is a favorite health and wellness brand of ours, with its own culture of small group environments (allowing for more focus and attention between trainers and customers), slow repetitive movements, serious muscle fatigue and lengthening, and toning exercises. Freeman herself is a fan of shopping small: She likes mom and pop health restaurants versus chains, bespoke studios over big box gyms, and boutique shops versus megastores. Go big or go home? Not so much in this case. We chatted with the founder on working out, shopping small, and how to practice beauty from the inside out…
What would an ideal food day be, from start to finish, for an SLT customer looking for the best results?
Breakfast – Oatmeal with raspberries, strawberries, and almond butter
Snack – Popcorn and an apple
Lunch – Quinoa and veggie stir-fry
Snack – Greek yogurt with chia seeds and blueberries
Dinner – Salmon, salad and steamed veggies
How is SLT different than all other gyms? Would you say it’s a lifestyle? How so?
SLT is about getting the results you are seeking via a challenging, full-body workout in a small group environment with the attention and encouragement of a motivating instructor. It is different in that you use a special piece of equipment called the Megaformer to strengthen, lengthen and tone your body via slow movements performed for extended periods of time leading to muscle fatigue and incomparable calorie burning. SLT is a lifestyle, one in which hard work equals results, one in which time is very precious, and efficiency is key.
How do you personally practice beauty from the inside out?
I am all about being the best me I can be. I try to eat healthy as much as possible, without depriving myself of the indulgences I love (chocolate is my thing). I eat tons of fruits and veggies and limit the simple carbs and meat I consume. I started practicing Transcendental Meditation recently and while super time consuming, try to fit it in whenever possible. I like to workout six days a week and mix SLT in with a little yoga and running.
Most common fitness pitfalls and how to fix them…
Not showing up! Can be solved by making a plan with a friend to workout together. You are much less likely to bail on a workout date than you are on a solo mission.
Getting into a rut. While finding a workout you love is very important to creating the workout habit, it’s also important to spice it up at times to prevent you from getting bored.
Setting unrealistic goals. Know yourself and your schedule. If you are more of a morning person, make sure you workout when you first wake up. If you’re currently working out once a week, aim to up that to twice a week and go from there.
When it comes to the fitness business, can smaller be better? Why?
I believe smaller can definitely be better in fitness. Boutique studios typically offer better classes than gyms do. Smaller group classes allow instructors to give their clients better focus and attention. Smaller muscles can often be more attractive than large muscles. Go small!
If you could sum up your brand in one sentence, what would it be?
If cardio, strength training and Pilates had a baby, it would be SLT.
What does the phrase ‘Shop Small’ personally mean to you? How can it apply to health and wellness?
I’m a big believer in Shop Small! For most purchases, I prefer supporting local shops and boutiques, rather than larger chain stores. I think the same concept is at play in working out at boutique studios rather than big box gyms. Or eating at mom and pop healthy food restaurants rather than chains.
Words to both eat and work out by…
Create healthy habits, but incorporate variety to keep it interesting.
Three ingredients to make your skin glow/three ingredients to tone you and why…
Skin glow – Charcoal (for exfoliating impurities), Rosehip oil (for moisture), Vitamin C (for collagen injection)
Tone – Slow movements, lots of reps, light weights
People are saying strong is the new skinny, do you agree with that? Why?
Yes, I think the ideal body type is evolving from super skinny to nicely toned. Visible muscle tone is the aspirational look for most women. Women want to look like they workout rather than like they don’t eat. Just look at the Victoria’s Secret models…they all have six packs and triceps you’d kill for.
What foods should you be eating before and after workouts? Why?
It’s best to eat protein and complex carbs before and after workouts. The combination will help push you through your workout and then contain hunger post-sweat session. Some of my go-tos are yogurt and nuts.
Most rewarding experience with an SLT customer during your career thus far…
There are too many great stories to pick just one. I love that many of our clients have seen major body transformations, made new friends, overcome injuries and achieved results and physical feats they never thought possible. We’ve had several clients get so into the workout and the community that they left careers in publishing, fashion and finance to become SLT instructors.
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ in terms of health and fitness?
Meditation! These days it seems like so many people around me are turning to meditation to help with their busy, overscheduled, and anxiety-filled lives. They are hoping it will help them sleep better, think clearer and be happier. We shall see!
This post is in partnership with American Express – committed to connecting small merchants to more customers through the Shop Small® movement. Are you a small business owner? Learn about the value of accepting American Express Cards here.