Clifford Studios in NYC : Class #2 = SLT

4 days into our honeymoon and, having adjusted to the relocation from sleepy Red Hook, Brooklyn to Midtown, Manhattan, Tom + I fuelled up with the Ace Hotel's legendary cheese sandwich (perfect pre workout snack right?) before strolling down to the FlatIron studio of SLT.

SLT stands for Strengthen, Lengthen and Tone. It's a class performed not on the reformer we Brits are now familiar with, but the MEGAformer. At this point Tom certainly echoed fellow New Yorker Dorothy Parker's sentiment; what fresh hell is this? Especially when he saw how hard the previous class were working, how red their faces were and how high they were able to extend their legs while balanced precariously on the carriage...plus, this was his fist foray into a New York exercise class.

I however am no stranger to punishing workouts on what look like machines of torture; having started my Pilates career teaching reformer classes at pioneering Heartcore in London. In fact, I am one of those that are thrilled by yet new forms of exercise pain. Seeing the quote 'better sore than sorry' emblazoned on the wall meant I was chomping at the bit to get started - especially as I was sporting my new Outdoor Voices leggings purchased the previous day, in Clifford Studios colours no less!

Yet again we were treated to an instructor using a headset and Maria was extremely attentive; showing us the machines and offering words of advice. Tom was pleased to see another chap on a machine at the centre whilst we were safely tucked away at the end. Near the open window overlooking 5th Avenue...

The exercises given were similar to those performed on a reformer and followed the same basic theory as regular Pilates: one part of the body stays still/stable whilst another moves. For some exercises the moving part burns, for others the stable part. The difference on the megaformer is that not only is at least one part of your body moving, but the surface on which it is placed can also move! This forces you to engage every stabilising muscle at all times and increases the work ten fold! Props are available to assist if your balance/core strength is failing and Maria offered several modifications where necessary. 

There were also echoes of Barre training in Maria's class - fatiguing each part of the body in turn. She was excellent at correcting technique (even if that was sometimes unwelcome - cheating is usually easier no matter how damaging long term!) and I am always impressed when a teacher does not demonstrate, but simply explains so well that the class know exactly what to do. 

I was really enjoying the class - it was challenging and I was burning and sweating but essentially I had it covered. Until the obliques. Hands on the carriage, feet on the front platform, everything was firing. And it didn't stop. Just holding a plank in this position (where the legs are on a stable surface but the arms are not) is agony. Being asked to 'snake in + out' and lower one's hips towards the carriage in turn was not music to my ears. Cue collapsing onto carriage many times and cursing the previously adored Maria.

Thankfully this was at the end of the class and we were soon able to dismount and hobble off the carriage to debrief. Conclusion: the megaformer was not as frightening as it's name suggests but we were definitely going to be sore the next day. Luckily we had another class booked at Tone House to really burn off that lactic acid...