Atlanta fitness guru Megan Armstrong of SculptHouse is the kind of girl you want to hang out with on the weekends…when she’s not kicking your butt. Megan is the Creative Director & Lead Trainer for the new fitness studio bombshell that hit Atlanta earlier this year, and is an instrumental mind (and body) behind the development of the SH method (keep reading for more info on this.) She may have a reputation for being a hardass, but you’ll never feel more supported and empowered than you will in her class.
We asked Megan to share some of her fitness, fashion and general wellbeing advice with us. Read below, steal her secrets and then meet us on the Megaformer. You’re welcome, Atlanta!
What drew you to SculptHouse?
Over a year ago, I connected with the owner, Katherine Mason on Facebook. I did a little research and was familiar with the machines she was looking to combine into one workout so we ended up meeting for lunch. Two hours into “lunch” I knew I wanted to become part of SculptHouse because she had an idea that no one else in the world had conceptualized yet. The idea of combining cardio on a Curve treadmill with the Megaformer in one workout had never been done – yet I knew how effective each machine was on its own. I wanted to be a part of the development of the SH workout because I knew how big this could be!!
Do you have any strategies for leading the team?
I’m a firm believer in leading by example. I strive to make each class the best it can be for our members and I also want to make their experience the moment they walk in the door a positive one. I know I have a reputation of being a hard ass but I think this is why we have the best trainers in the city. They have all worked so hard to master a completely new format and I couldn’t be prouder. I also try to connect with the trainers on a personal level because at the end of the day, we are all in this together. I want them to love their jobs as much as I love mine and want to make a difference in the ATL fit community. I also want them to know how much I care about their lives outside of the studio and that they can always come to me with concerns or even new ideas to add to the workout!
Why is the combination of the Megaformer and the Woodway Curve treadmill so effective? How do we get over being so intimidated by it (asking for a friend, of course…)?
HAHAH you’re not the first person that has said it is intimidating! But, what I would tell someone who is hesitant to try it is that we have put so much work into training each instructor so that the member is set up for success even from the very beginning when we are describing the workout. As with anything, taking the leap is the hardest step. This workout works…I have taught group fitness classes for over 8 years in both Atlanta and LA and this workout is BY FAR the best because it combines cardio and strength under one roof using state-of-the-art machines.
Both the Curve treadmill and Megaformer are newer pieces of equipment. As the fitness community evolves we are finding more and more each day that some of the traditional cardio/strength workouts are actually causing injuries or simply not producing results. When you are on the Megaformer, you work your slow twitch muscles – the muscles that are used for endurance and burn fat. When you are on the Curve, you work the fast twitch muscles – muscles used for power and explosiveness.
There is such a thing as “too much cardio.” I think up until about 4-5 years ago, women especially obsessed over doing nothing but cardio. But the trend in the past few years is for women and men to be strong, not just skinny. Strength doesn’t have to mean bulk and the Megaformer is designed to create long, lean and toned bodies. The combination of this with about 24 minutes of cardio on the Curve is the perfect combination to get the best of both worlds. Yes, each machine itself is a little more intense but that’s why we only spend 24 minutes on each. We have also built our schedule to allow for proper muscle recovery throughout the week. So either you take the leap and try something new or you miss out and continue to hear about it everywhere you go! Take the jump and just try it. I can tell you first hand it has literally changed the shape of my body for the better!
How is the fitness community in Atlanta different than the gym-goes in New York, your home state?
I’m actually from a very small town in upstate NY and I grew up working out at the local YMCA. That was literally the only option I had! I was a competitive swimmer for 12 years and would spend my free time lifting weights in the tiny weight room upstairs before or after swim practice. It wasn’t until I moved to LA that I realized there was an entire fitness industry!! I fell in love with teaching in LA and knew that’s what I wanted to do when I moved to Atlanta. The thing about the Atlanta fitness community is that we are quickly becoming competitive with markets like LA and NYC but workouts here are a little more accessible. We offer more than just the big chains and we have a large variety of studios to choose from. One observation I’ve noticed after working in this industry for so long is that most people are looking for the next new thing – but they will only stick with that new thing if they see results.
What fitness trends will we see out the door this year? What will stick around?
The trend of doing cardio only to lose weight will soon be long gone. People are finally realizing and seeing results by adding weight/resistance training to the mix. I think the biggest trend that is starting to stick is variety. It’s in your body’s best interest to switch things up. Sure, you can have your go to workout but the body can adapt to something and stop responding. This is what happened to be when I was only doing cardio. This is why I think the SculptHouse workout will quickly become nationwide. Your body will never get used to our signature workout because there are so many ways to work every single muscle and combining moves to work several muscles together is what keeps the body always guessing – which yields continuous results!
We are obsessed with the SculptHouse Boutique – how do you select the workout wear? Any favorite brands?
The owner, Katherine, works with our boutique manager, Mary Katherine to carefully select lines and items that they know people in Atlanta will love! They actually just spent some time in LA researching the newest trends for next spring and summer so they are constantly looking ahead as with any retail business.
Fashion is not my thing but fitness is, so I always look to them for recommendations on which lines will look good on me. I am very tall so they know exactly what will look best and compliment my body while adding style. My go-to pants are any type of Michi or HPE pants. I love the Varley line as well as Vimmia.
It’s a great compliment to have the boutique in the same space as the studio because let’s face it, when you feel good in what you are wearing, you are more likely to work harder to keep that confidence. We have several members who have told me about setting monthly goals in the studio and when they hit those goals, they treat themselves to something in the boutique. I think that’s a perfect idea!
What were the most memorable learnings from your NASM certified personal trainer certification?
I think just learning about all the muscles in the body and how everything is literally connected was the most valuable. Often times people think they might have back or knee problems when in reality it’s more about strengthening the muscles that support the area they have pain. Learning the body is an actual machine was really cool – it made me realize how important strength training is especially as we get older. I don’t want to be an old hunched over woman with tons of physical limitations. I want to be strong enough for my muscles to support my skeleton and carry me through life as healthy as possible. I learned that working out is more that just about what we want to look like. We only have one body and for me, I wanted to know more about how to keep that physical strength while becoming toned and more confident.
At Peachtree Roadies we are big on the barre to bar life. Favorite way to work up a sweat (after SculptHouse, of course) and then imbibe?
My go to adult beverages are either wine, (skinny) margaritas or vodka & sodas with plenty of limes! I love getting together with a group of friends at either a house party or nice restaurant. Occasionally I will hit up a bar but the older I get, the more low key I prefer things (versus going out to the bars until 2am).
I love to sweat by doing a spin class or supplement my SH workout with some yoga. I recently bought a road bike so I’ve been mixing up my routine by getting outside and riding but I also love to hike with my pup! I rescued (Nola) her in January and she loves being outside just as much as I do. I will bring her to the dog park in Brookhaven whenever I have a chance and love to watch her run and play. But my favorite way to incorporate everything I love is by hitting up an outdoor concert…drinks, sunshine and great music!!
What do you keep in your gym bag?
Always gum, hand sanitizer, lip balm and wind screens for all the classes I teach! I ALWAYS have a water bottle everywhere I go. I also keep some tinted moisturizer and dry shampoo. I’m constantly going from one activity to the next so sometimes I need a quick refresher and tinted moisturizer and dry shampoo go a long way. Last but not least some kind of quick snack – usually an apple or almonds. I love Quest bars too but try go stick with clean snacks as much as possible!
You promote both physical health and mental strength in your classes. Where does the mental strength come into play?
Mental strength comes first in any aspect of life for me. I have to have the mental strength to get through a workout whether I’m taking or teaching. It’s all a mindset…there are days where I literally want to go home and sleep but I try to remind myself everything is temporary. I just have to get through the next 50 minutes and then it’s on to the next thing.
I get my mental strength from my dad. He is so down to earth and puts everything into perspective. Nothing (usually) is as bad as it seems and he has mastered balancing life – work, fitness and personal relationships. I take everything one step at a time and try not to get overwhelmed by the big picture. I’m a big believer in making lists (I get that from my mom!) and that usually helps to break things up and keeps me accountable. I can’t use the calendar on my iPhone. I have to be able to write things down, make notes and cross things out so I always have me old school calendar with me!
You’re all business in the studio – but your Instagram account proves you love to have fun! How do you find balance?
Life is too short not to enjoy it to the best of our ability. Sure we all have to work to make a living in order to enjoy other things but I really try to set aside at least one day a week for me. There’s nothing better than being around friends and family and without time for that, my work would suffer. Luckily I have a boss that believes the same thing so when I need some time to go home or just check out, she encourages that. It allows me to come back to work 110% reenergized.
Are there any publications or resources you look to for inspiration in your life? (health, travel, etc?)
I have a guilty pleasure – People Magazine. It’s mindless and I love it when I have time! But I also look to Women’s Health and Shape magazine for tips on everything from fitness to food and to keep up with the next new thing. I’m hoping they feature SculptHouse soon!