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I tried SLT at home and improved my core strength in 1 month

Using resistance bands, gliders and light weights, I activated muscles I didn't even know I had.
The movements in SLT workouts are deceiving — small, but incredibly difficult.TODAY Illustration / Danielle Page
/ Source: TMRW

If you asked me to name the most challenging workout I've ever tried, you'd be surprised by the answer. It's not an intense boot camp designed by ex-Marines or even a workout that leaves you dripping in a puddle of sweat. It's a workout that consists of slow, precise movements.

I consider myself to be in decent shape, so my first time stepping onto a Megaformer was humbling to say the least. To recap for the unfamiliar, a Megaformer is a Pilates machine that glides, offering different resistance levels to work your arms, legs and core — but honestly, every part of your body will feel the wrath of this machine. Even the smallest of movements on the Megaformer, like shifting your foot forward and backward while holding your balance, take an incredible amount of energy and effort to control.

So when I heard that SLT, a popular fitness studio in New York City and a few surrounding areas that features the machine, had created a virtual platform that replicated this intense workout at home, I had to give it a try.

The basics: cost and equipment

A subscription to the SLT On Demand platform costs $45 per month. Certain sections of the platform are intended for users who have a Megaformer, Microformer or treadmill at home, but the "floor" section of the platform includes workouts that can be done with minimal equipment (hand weights and a mat) and still deliver that same burn. To mimic the feel of being on a Megaformer, I'd suggest getting a pair of gliders and a resistance band as well.

There's also a dedicated section for moms-to-be that includes a mix of different prenatal workouts depending on what equipment you have at home.

Navigating the platform

SLT On Demand's floor section (for those who don't have a Megaformer, Microformer or treadmill) offers workouts that vary in length, including 15, 30, 45 or up to 60-minute options. New classes are added each Tuesday, which keeps the platform feeling fresh. Users can filter the workouts by instructor or class duration. When you click on a workout, a section displays the equipment you'll need for that class, so you'll be prepared and can choose a class based on what you own.

What the workout entails

SLT stands for Strengthen, Lengthen, Tone. The workout focuses on slow, controlled movements that build and define muscle by activating slow-twitch muscle fibers. To achieve these movements without a Megaformer, SLT On Demand workouts use resistance bands, gliders and light weights that activate muscles you probably didn't even know you had. If you've ever taken a Pilates class, SLT borrows the most challenging foundational elements of that modality to deliver a burn-inducing, muscle-building workout.

There are plenty of full-body workout options on the SLT On Demand platform, but if you're in the mood to focus on a specific body part, there are options like Core, Abs & Ass, Abs & Arms and Lower Body to choose from as well.

My experience trying SLT

If you've ever wondered how long 15 minutes could feel, I'd suggest giving this workout a try.

Having been humbled by a Megaformer workout in the past, I decided to start with one of the 15-minute lower-body options to ease my way in. If you've ever wondered how long 15 minutes could feel, I'd suggest giving this workout a try. The workout started with squats and stretches, then quickly moved into movements using the resistance band. We used the band in standing squat positions and on the floor for exercises, like clam shells, which got really deep into the glutes and outer thighs. I felt it in every single part of my lower body, activating muscle groups in my glutes that felt like they'd long been at rest and were struggling to keep up.

To let my lower half recover, I opted to try a 30-minute ab workout for my next class. Unfortunately for my lower half, while this workout focused on the core, all body parts were recruited and involved. As if standard planks aren't challenging enough, we used gliders to move each leg slowly in and out while holding the plank position. As I worked through these movements, I realized that I hadn't been doing enough lateral work in my routine. My body was used to squats and forward lunges, but many of the SLT moves focus on moving the body side to side. My obliques had a lot of catching up to do.

If you do a lot of Pilates or yoga, the moves will feel familiar.
If you do a lot of Pilates or yoga, the moves will feel familiar.

If I'm being honest, this workout never got easier. But I did start to see a difference in my stamina and specifically in my core strength by the second week of my trial. Did my body stop shaking while using gliders to slowly move in and out of plank position? No. But my control over these slow, stable movements did improve and my body felt stronger for it.

And while I did try the 45- and 60-minute options on the platform, I found that the 30-minute classes were my sweet spot, allowing me to complete the workout feeling accomplished instead of defeated by the end. Make no mistake, 30 minutes of this workout is still a huge challenge — and if you're consistent about it, still enough to feel results. By the end of my trial, my stability and core strength had greatly improved and the SLT movements felt more doable, while still challenging.

What I liked

If you suffer from decision fatigue, the platform has enough options to keep you from feeling bored, but not so many that you'll feel overwhelmed. One feature that stood out to me that I hadn't seen before is the option to choose the type of music you'd like to listen to throughout the workout. I'm used to being at the mercy of the instructor's taste in music. SLT On Demand allows you to choose between pop, rock, electronic and (my personal favorite) throwback tunes to listen to during each workout video.

For Pilates and yoga enthusiasts, many of these movements will feel familiar, but more intense. Having a foundational knowledge of these movements isn't a requirement to enjoy this workout, but it can be an advantage for those trying SLT for the first time.

SLT works parts of the body that many workouts tend to skip over or not spend enough time on. I activated my core and glutes in ways I haven't in a very long time during this trial, which was eye-opening.

What I didn’t like

This is not a fun workout that flies by. SLT instructors go above and beyond to keep things positive and upbeat, but expect time to move more slowly than you've ever experienced while performing these tiny movements that seem like they should be easy, but are far from it.

While the floor section of SLT On Demand is robust, paying $45 each month to access the platform can feel a bit steep if you don't own a treadmill, Microformer or Megaformer (and therefore can't take advantage of the whole library). But if you end up falling in love with SLT, adding equipment to your home gym may feel worth the investment.

I'd recommend this workout to:

  • Pilates and yoga enthusiasts
  • People looking for a low-impact, but tough workout
  • Those who want to improve their core strength and stamina
  • Anyone who works out consistently and is looking for a new challenge