Self-styled “fitness visionary” Sebastian Lagree (what a wonderful name… I imagine he looks like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast!) has designed a machine called the Megaformer – a kind of pilates reformer – used in the studio’s celebrity-endorsed classes to combine cardio, strength, endurance, flexibility, core and balance at high intensity yet low impact.
Their website is full of scientific blurb, with claims that the classes deliver a full body workout with quick results. Celebrity endorser Sophia Vergara claims this ‘necessary torture’ is how she maintains her pert bottom, and Kim Kardashian and Michelle Obama also reportedly use The Method. I was a little sceptical, but intrigued.
Hailing from LA – where else – Studio Lagree has hit London, so off I went to find out what it’s all about.
What They Say:
This is the method and machine that has transformed Hollywood’s hottest bodies! The Lagree Fitness Method delivers results fast. The no-impact program features targeted exercises performed at a slow and controlled pace, activating slow twitch muscle fibres to build the long lean physique that has made this workout famous.
According to Courtney Cox this is “work your ass off” pilates. I’ve never done pilates and my flexibility is laughable. Tell me to run till I can’t breath and I’ll smash it; tell me to hold a contorted position on what looks like a torture machine and I may well weep. It would be fair to say I was nervous.
You wouldn’t notice the studio if you strolled past, its subtle entrance engulfed by the high rises and livery halls of the City. Fitness studios abound in this area, and I imagine the competition to get the local well-heeled workers through the doors is fierce. The peak hour classes here book up well in advance – I went to a late afternoon class while the tens of thousands of people in the surrounding buildings were still busy making the big money-wheel turn, so it was easy enough to book in. On arrival the instructor, Vinny, was at reception – I received a warm welcome and he told me roughly what to expect and said he’d run through how to use the machine a few minutes before class. To do this class you need to wear grippy socks – which they sell for a tenner, alongside a small Lululemon range.
I headed down to the changing rooms (fully stocked with Cowshed products, hair straighteners and a selection of styling products… if that’s important to you in a gym) and got chatting to a couple of other girls – both of whom were also first timers. We headed into the studio, which was moodily lit with mirrors lining the walls and 16 Megaformers laid out like torture racks. The soundtrack was early noughties R&B and I could imagine Usher sitting in the corner of the room sippin’ on Patron while watching the ladies (the class was 100% female) get their burn on.
Vinny showed us the ropes, all pretty straightforward, and he talked us through what to do as we were going along too. The Megaformer is like a Pilates reformer (I say, like an expert… having never used a reformer of any kind before!). It comprises two fixed bases with a sliding panel in between, weighted by springs which can be adjusted to increase or reduce resistance. The are also some handles and pulleys which we used with our feet and hands at various points during the class.
We quickly got started with some plank holds and rollouts. Two minutes in I was already sweating and shaking in the static holds! Every movement was done slowly and under control, with focus on breathing and alignment. Vinny’s cues were really clear and he moved around the room adjusting positions where needed. We moved on to some isolated glute work and lunges before circling back to more core focused holds and scap work – some of the moves had great names, things like ‘scrambled eggs’ and ‘Batman’. The workout was zero impact but Hard with a capital H. The resistance forced focus on movement and core stability throughout. There were about 8 other girls in the room, but I was so intently focused on my own movement I could have been the only person there. Whilst every second felt seriously challenging, the 50 minute class was over before I knew it, and we finished with some glute and hamstring stretches which felt heavenly.
This class was TOUGH, and AWESOME – I really want to go back. I left feeling strong and lithe… I may not have Sophia Vergara’s butt quite yet, but I certainly got my glutes firing and feel like I got a great full-body workout. When given an ice cold towel at the end of class to mop my brow, I felt like I was happily glowing, rather than sweating like a pig!
The machines themselves are comfortable (soft) and the studio is spotlessly clean.
I absolutely love it when I’m a little bit cynical about something and then it turns out to be awesome – that was definitely the case here! Claims of fast results raised my eyebrows, but doing this class regularly would definitely sculpt the bum and abs pretty quickly.
I would go back here in a second. If you love to challenge yourself and feel the burn for a few days afterwards, this is for you!
Where: Studio Lagree, the City (new sites opening soon in Canary Wharf and White City)
Cost: Taster Class £15, then £30 per class (discounted down to £21 if purchased in bulk).
How to book: www.studiolagreeuk.com
If you’ve been to a Megaformer class, or know of another class you think I’d love, please comment below!