Pilates 2.0: The Megaformer

We tried SLT, New York's latest fitness craze, and this heart-pumping-muscle-quivering-sweat-inducing lovechild of cardio, pilates and hell is actually way better than it sounds.

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So we're a month into resolution time, and I applaud those of you who've stuck to your new diet, workout routine or whatever healthy regimen path you've chosen. Some of us didn't even make resolutions, so I took it upon myself to jump on the bandwagon by trying New York's latest fitness craze, SLT. This heart-pumping-muscle-quivering-sweat-inducing lovechild of cardio, pilates and hell is actually way better than it sounds.

The 50-minute class takes place on a Megaformer machine, which is basically a pilates machine on crack. Its solid base comes with a sliding platform, benches on the front and back, handlebars and bungee cords and springs to amp up the resistance. The class doesn't have you panting and gasping for air, but it takes major focus to complete the moves and stay steady on the Megaformer. One exercise example: I had two hands on the front handlebars, my feet on the back platform with each foot facing the left, while I slid back on the platform into a plank and moved my legs back up. But my legs weren't doing any of the work; it was only my core.

"The beauty of the machine is that it can isolate muscles because it's controlled," says Amanda Freeman, the studio owner. She found SLT in Los Angeles through her website, Vital Juice, a healthy living blog for fitness devotees, and decided it was a must have for the east coast.

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Now I come from a gymnastics and weightlifting background, I'm a full-fledged Soul Cyclist, and I continuously hop around workout studios to try the next new thing. Never have I felt my muscles so clearly being isolated before. Those side dips and crunches you're doing at the gym to blast your love handles? They won't even hold a candle to the oblique moves during this class.

The idea is to work muscles to failure, and my inner thighs, glutes, core, arms and quads were all shaking by the time each move was over. It was the only time I've felt like an exercise I'm doing is actually toning a specific part of my body—almost like lipo without the knife.

Freeman says she has done experiments with women who train just one side of their bodies. "You can see where the one side looks tighter," she says. And just because you're not in New York or LA doesn't mean you can't get in superb shape this way either. Freeman recommends simulating the Megaformer by putting a towel under your feet. One exercise that works from home is doing a plank with your feet on a towel, then piking up by using only your abdominals, not your legs. Do four counts up then four counts back for one minute, and you just might strengthen, lengthen and tone right from your living room.

SLT, 37 West 57th Street, 7th Floor. First class: $20, prices vary by package.