What is it: The Lagree Fitness Method is a high-intensity, full-body workout that puts little to no impact on your joints or spine. It’s done standing (and squatting, and lunging and kneeling) on an odd-looking machine called the Megaformer, which I’m told is similar to the reformer machine used in Pilates. (Hence the nickname “Pilates on steroids.”)
The what-former?: With its handles, bars, pulleys and movable parts, the Megaformer looks like a torture device. But once you understand how to use the movable carriage, the fixed platforms and the cables, it seems downright ingenious. Chandra Rachel, owner of and trainer at the Lagree MSP gym, explained that the machine is capable of more than 150 moves, which makes it easy to change up the workouts.
What it does: In a Lagree class, you work one muscle group to fatigue, then move on to the next with little transition time, in order to keep your heart rate up. Each 40- to 60-minute class is designed to give you a total body workout.
Trial run: I generally like working out, but I’ve got to say I loved this workout. It was fast-paced but controlled, killer hard without being hard on my admittedly aging joints, and very challenging but doable. At the end of the class, I had an endorphin high and was shaking with exhaustion, but I wasn’t in any pain. (That came the following day, when all the core exercises I’d done made it hurt to laugh.)
Don’t do what I did: Because I was jumping right into a Signature workout class without taking the introductory Fundamentals class, I arrived a few minutes early to learn the basics of the Megaformer. Still, I had to copy what the more experienced folks did. I fumbled now and then, but the movements were performed in a pattern I could follow. Still, I would recommend starting with a Fundamentals class — or the knowledge that it’ll take you a class or two to get the hang of it.
Who it’s for: Gym rats who are looking for a constantly changing and challenging workout or folks who want to stay fit without putting too much stress on their joints.
Who it’s not for: If you’re not into machines, this may not be the workout for you.
The back story: Invented by Sebastien Lagree, a personal trainer based in Los Angeles, this Pilates-inspired workout targets core strength, muscle strength, flexibility, balance and cardio in one workout.
Where: Lagree MSP, 16605 County Road 24, Plymouth; lagreemsp.com. This boutique gym also offers spinning and a popular combo class of spinning and Megaformer training.
Cost: $32 per class; $14 for first-timers. There are discounted packages (five to 50 classes) and monthly rates, as well.