Pure Pilates Austin Review: The Lagree Fitness Method

The Megaformer is Mega-Tough

Pure Pilates Austin. Laura Williams

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 was a fitness expert who revolutionized the industry in the 1950s when he developed the Pilates method. Traditional Pilates is focused on strengthening and aligning the body, starting with the "powerhouse" - the core muscles of the back, hips, abdomen and buttocks.

Pilates developed exercises to be performed on specially designed equipment, including the Reformer, the Barrel, and the Chairs, to help achieve these goals.

And of course, it was just a matter of time before other fitness experts started looking at traditional Pilates and asking, "How can I change this to make it new and different?"

Sebastien Lagree started looking at the traditional Pilates Reformer and asking just that. If he wanted to develop a higher intensity, cardio interval-style Pilates class that would strengthen the core while also blasting calories, what could he do to alter the Reformer and make it something new?

What was born was the Megaformer - a patent-pending piece of equipment that has a sliding center carriage, fixed platforms on either end, handlebars and straps at every end that can be adjusted based on the exercise, spring-loaded resistance that can easily be added and removed based on the exerciser's needs, and accessories attachments at all four corners.

These Megaformers are only available to Lagree Fitness licensees, of which Pure Pilates Austin is one.

The Pure Pilates Workout

When I showed up at Pure Pilates Austin, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. While I've taken a few Pilates mat classes, I've 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 nice thing is that the studio is small, with a total of only eight Megaformers - in other words, at most, only eight students can take a class at once. This means the instructor is able to provide 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 warmup 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 steady strength training and full range of motion movements to keep the heart rate high. Just five minutes into the class and I was sweating bullets. We performed planks, pikes, pushups, various rows and modified pullup-like exercises, squats, lunges, crunches, and more.

The instructor toured between the five of us who were taking the class, occasionally making adjustments to our Megaformers or correcting our alignment and form. Because each movement is performed slowly and with great precision, my muscles were burning throughout each exercise, begging for time to speed up.

But when the class was actually over, I was surprised by how fast the 45 minutes seemed to pass.

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

Because I was new to the method, there were times I wished the instructor had been performing the exercises with us, so I could have copied her form. I found myself watching the other students' form to mimic what they were doing... which may have been right or wrong.


  • Tough workout focused on building strength while burning calories
  • Constant core engagement throughout the workout
  • Easily adjusted to the student's fitness level
  • Quality instruction
  • Small class size - intimate and friendly


There really aren't many cons. The workout itself is excellent, and the instruction was good - I never doubted that 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 along 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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