Trying the Megaformer and Lagree Fitness Method at Pure Pilates

The Megaformer is Mega-Tough

Pilates Megaformer Class
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The fitness industry is always pushing boundaries, always asking questions like, "How can we make this new? Better? Different? How can we meet different needs?"

Joseph Pilates revolutionized the fitness industry in the 1950s when he developed the Pilates method. Traditional Pilates focuses on strengthening and aligning the body, starting with the "powerhouse" muscles—your back, hips, abdomen, and buttocks, all commonly referred to as your "core." Pilates went on to develop special equipment, including the Reformer, the Barrel, and the Chairs, to help achieve enhance his training method.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before other fitness experts would start looking at traditional Pilates equipment to see if they could make it new and different. Sebastien Lagree was one of these experts. Lagree began studying the traditional Pilates Reformer to see if he could modify it to deliver a higher intensity, cardio interval-style Pilates class that would strengthen the core while also blasting calories.

What was born was the Megaformer—a patent-pending piece of equipment that features a sliding center carriage, fixed platforms on either end, and handlebars and straps at every corner that can be adjusted based on the exercise. Spring-loaded resistance can be added or removed based on the exerciser's needs, and accessories attachments make it possible to continuously change exercises and workouts. Fortunately or unfortunately, Megaformers can't be purchased by the public, so to try them out, you have to head to a licensed Lagree Fitness studio.

To give the equipment a try, I headed to Pure Pilates Austin— this is what I discovered. 

The Pure Pilates Workout

When I showed up at the Pure Pilates studio, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I'd taken Pilates mat classes, but I'd never used a traditional Reformer. The owners and the instructor were incredibly friendly and helpful, showing me around the Megaformer, explaining how to add and remove resistance, and what I could expect from the class.

The studio is small, with only eight Megaformers—in other words, at most, only eight students can take a class at once. This means the instructor can provide more individualized feedback to each student, while still offering the social engagement of a group class.

We started the class with a warm up that consisted of step ups on one end of the Megaformer while doing shoulder presses with weighted balls. The step ups were followed by lunges to fire up the lower body and get the heart rate up.

Once the warm up was done, we mounted the Megaformers and started getting into the meat of the workout. It was tough. Each exercise was performed for a specific period of time​—generally about a minute—and combined core strength with strength training through a full range of motion to keep the heart rate high. Just five minutes into the class and I was sweating bullets. We performed planks, pikes, pushups, rows and modified pullup-like exercises, squats, lunges, crunches, and more.

The instructor walked between the five participants, making adjustments to the Megaformers and correcting alignment and form. Each movement is performed slowly and with great precision—my muscles burned throughout the routine, begging for time to speed up, but when the class was actually over, I was surprised by how fast the 45 minutes passed.

Overall, the experience was a positive one. I was impressed by how hard I worked, how much I sweated, and how much it felt like more of a traditional strength training workout, even though we were using a Megaformer instead of standard weights.

Because I was new to the method, I wished the instructor had demonstrated and performed all of the exercises with us, so I could copy her form. I found myself watching the other students' form instead, without really knowing if their form was correct.

Pros:

  • Tough workout focused on building strength while burning calories
  • Constant core engagement throughout the routine
  • Exercises and resistance are easily adjusted to the student's fitness level
  • High-quality instruction
  • Small class size—intimate and friendly

Cons:

There weren't many cons. The workout itself is excellent, and the instruction was good—I never doubted the instructor knew what she was talking about, and she quickly corrected improper form. That said, I do wish she had done more of the workout with us to more clearly demonstrate the movements for newbies like me.

Finding a Class

Pure Pilates Austin isn't a chain, so unless you live in the Austin area, you won't be able to find the exact same class. That said, there are Lagree Fitness-licensed studios around the country that feature the Megaformers and Lagree-certified instructors. You can find a studio near you by searching the Lagree Fitness website.

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