Amanda Freeman - NYC Fitness Entrepreneur & SLT Sweetheart

Q.Amanda, how did you become a fitness entrepreneur? Obviously there's no set path but how did you start down yours?

My career has been an evolution that has lead me to the fitness world. It was during my career as a trendforecaster that I identified the rise of wellconsciousness among women my age and in particular, my own interest in the area. I left that job to start Vital Juice, the wellness focused daily email (like DailyCandy without the cavities) that I ran until last month*. And it was frequent trips to LA throughout my career that lead me to finding SLT and SLT Yoga.

*Vital Juice has shifted gears and is now Tasting Table's Good Taste

Q.What are you most proud of when you think about Vital Juice and STL, as I'm sure they were both labors of love.

I love that Vital Juice inspired people to make healthier choices…and we’d get amazing reader feedback on its impact.

I love my interactions with our SLT clients…I love seeing results the workout has on our clients’ bodies. I also like that some clients form friendships thanks to their time at the studio.

Q.It’s no secret you’re very smart and a Harvard grad. What do you have to say about the way people in fitness are stereotyped?

I am lucky to have had an amazing education - Duke undergrad and Harvard Business School. And yes, I have heard people remark about how I am now leveraging my education. However, most people acknowledge that while I may be teaching exercise classes, I am also running a business. 

Increasing numbers of very smart people are entering the wellness space. I meet with at least 2 people a month with MBAs and Ivy League educations who want to get out of the finance or legal world and move into wellness. 

I also have to say that teaching fitness classes is tough work…probably the hardest job I’ve ever had. It takes so much energy, enthusiasm, interpersonal skills, discipline and knowledge. It reminds me of when I used to give trend presentations. But those were a piece of cake compared to teaching a room full of beginners.

Q.Does teaching mean you have to become a yell-er? Soft spoken instructors drive me crazy!

I am a yell-er at heart, so in that way, I’m a natural.  

Q.What are the 3 key things to being a damn good fitness instructor?

Hiring amazing instructors is the most important part of my job at SLT.  So I have paid lots of attention to the key attributes of a great instructor. I think the top three are…

  1. Charisma – This is an innate trait…I believe some people have it and others probably never will.
  2. Diligence – The best instructors give every class they teach 100%...or as close to 100% as possible. They give maximum effort all the time and do whatever is necessary to motivate and assist their clients.
  3. Good Interpersonal Skills – Knowing your clients’ names, injuries, and personal situations helps create strong relationships with clients. Giving clients personal attention and showing you actual care about them makes a great instructor.
Q.What are other fitness studios doing wrong that really gets to you?

I don’t understand studios that are constantly discounting their offering for new clients only. I believe in rewarding loyal clients, not the fleeting ones who will studio hop based on discounted pricing.

Q.Hmm, I need to get on the STL loyalty program pronto! Let's talk fitness fashion. What are your faves?

Since opening SLT, my fitness apparel has changed.  I wear exercise clothes all day, almost every day. So, my workout clothes need to work in casual meetings and dinners. I don’t wear much of the built-in-bra tops anymore.  Instead I layer fun color sports bras and cute tank tops with flattering stretchy pants. My style is definitely eclectic…some pieces kinda controversial.

I actually wear a lot of Nike pants and I often buy my tanks at places like James Perse or Sandro…they aren’t meant for workout, but they serve the purpose. Some brands I’m obsessed with now are Lucas Hugh (amazing British line, but so expensive), Michi (Helmut Lang-like workout wear) and Aviator Nation (very Venice, CA surfer).

Q.Aside from fashion, what’s the 1 thing you absolutely need to have a good workout?

Music is so important to me when I work out. If my iPod runs out of batteries when I go for a run or walk, the workout is basically over. If a studio has crap music or it isn’t loud enough, I’m annoyed and my workout isn’t as good.

Q.If you could change 1 thing about the fitness industry, what would it be?

Unfortunately, there is not enough unity among studios. There are too many rivalries for my taste. As small business owners, it would be great if we could all support each other, but in reality there’s some negativity among studios. Some studios won’t let other instructors take at their studios and I don’t understand that. I’m not sure clients feel it, which is a good thing…but, it’s certainly prevalent.

Q.Banning anyone from fitness is shameful...that sucks. Onward, what's the spice of your life right now?

Professionally, I am thrilled to be working with my friend and yoga guru, Erin Jacques on SLT Yoga, and hopefully opening a 2nd SLT space downtown. Personally, my sister got engaged and we are in wedding planning mode. Fun!

Q.You're super tight with your 2 siblings. How have they influenced all that you do?

My brother and sister are the two most important people in my life. Our parents passed away many years ago, so we have a unique bond.

My brother is my financial partner in SLT. He is my biggest fan, one of my most frequent customers and he is great advertising for SLT. He wears SLT gear all the time.

My sister is very supportive of SLT, it’s her only workout and she too rocks the gear every chance she gets. She is a food writer (, so the fact that she eats like she does and stays so skinny, is a testament to SLT’s effects!!!

Q.Speaking of all that you do, is there anything you’re actually bad at? You seem to succeed at everything you try.

Oh, please!  I am bad at so many things…I just choose to focus on the things I am good at. It is a valuable lesson I learned years ago, from a good friend and author Marcus Buckingham. Always focus on your strengths…your weaknesses will always be your weaknesses. 

When it comes to fitness, I’m bad at choreography. Dance cardio is so not my thing. I am also bad at repetitive workouts. I love SLT’s workouts because the class is very varied and flies by…and there’s no choreography necessary.

Q.Lastly, who inspires you in fitness and why?

Jay Galluzzo of FlyWheel is one of my fitness inspirations. I watched him come from a different world (legal/business) and tackle the fitness world with amazing acumen. The innovative spin FlyWheel took on indoor cycling (pun intended) is impressive.

I am also inspired by the founders of SoulCycle, Elizabeth and Julie. The brand, community and experience they built from scratch is truly amazing. They obviously agree with me on how important music is for a workout!



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