A lesson to live by: When someone offers you a glimpse into how Meghan Markle stays in shape, you say yes.
The high-intensity, low-impact workout has been praised for its ability to burn the maximum amount of calories in a minimal amount of time while developing muscle tone, strength, endurance, balance and flexibility. Although some call it Pilates (it’s really not, as Lagree points out), it’s a muscular endurance class on a Megaformer that has developed a cult following.
But before we dive into what it’s like to do the Duchess of Sussex’s go-to workout, let’s nail down some of the basics.
What is a Megaformer?
It’s basically a Pilates reformer on steroids. Invented by Lagree, the Megaformer is 44 inches longer than a traditional reformer and includes a front and a back platform. The machine also features two sets of cables that are attached to the carriage, which makes it possible to do many more exercises than you can on a standard reformer. In addition to the Megaformer, Lagree also invented an even more intense version called the Supraformer (which moves side to side and up and down via hydraulics), as well as a Proformer (which is closer to a traditional reformer but features two platforms).
What makes it different than Pilates?
Lagree founded the exercise program, originally called Pilates Plus, and a slew of products to go with it in an effort to heal his body after years of bodybuilding. He soon realized, however, that his method, which focuses on high-intensity bodybuilding techniques with low-impact movements, wasn’t really Pilates, which is more about stretching large muscle groups and strengthening smaller ones.
The main difference between the two schools of thought is that Lagree’s sets are one to two minutes, which creates better and quicker results, and he exhausts each muscle group before moving to the next. For instance, in most Lagree classes, you’ll do two or more glute exercises before moving to a new muscle group. And when it’s time to switch moves, don’t expect a rest period. Like circuit training, those doing Lagree should expect to move to the next set expediently, which makes it a cardiovascular workout as well.
Lagree also focuses on slow, controlled reps to prevent injury and emphasizes the importance of flexibility, balance and isometric movements (muscles contract while joints remain still).
The bottom line: Lagree builds and tones all muscle groups intensely, while Pilates focuses primarily on stretching and light strengthening. Lagree classes are also only 25 to 50 minutes.
Who are some of Lagree’s celeb fans?
Michelle Obama credits the exercise for her incredibly toned arms, and Scarlett Johansson swore by the Megaformer on her journey toward her Avengers Black Widow body. It’s also beloved by Jennifer Aniston, Rihanna, Nicole Kidman, Ashley Graham, the Kardashians and Victoria’s Secret models. Oh, did we mention the 38-year-old Duchess of Sussex swears by it?
In the past, Meghan has said the Megaformer-based workout “is hands down the best thing you could do for your body,” adding that “your body changes immediately…give it two classes and you will see a difference.” It’s how she got her pre–royal wedding physique (those arms!).
Who is this workout ideal for?
Really anyone can do Lagree. Though it may be tough to keep up in your first class, you’ll quickly get the pace and moves down. It’s worth noting that the workout method is also safe during pregnancy and can be modified to accommodate for previous injuries. Despite Lagree’s celebrity following, classes start at $14, so it’s not overly expensive.
What was my experience?
I was first introduced to Lagree Fitness four years ago and have been going on and off since. I’ve done at least one Megaformer class a week for the past year or so, but it still kills every single time. Lagree promised to go easy on me since I’m currently pregnant, but after the first set of donkey kicks on a Supra, I was already shaking. Trying to act like my legs weren’t on fire, I asked him questions during the sets and attempted to not sound as out of breath as I was. I cursed myself for not bringing a towel, because about five minutes into our private I was dripping in sweat. My legs shook through the whole glute, hamstring and quad series, and I basically wanted to cheer when we moved on to arms, which is always my favorite part. I masochistically loved every second of it, but I was also super relieved when he told me we were done. As I stood up from the Supraformer, I realized my legs were still shaking and my arms felt featherlight. I took a moment to catch my breath and chug water while cringing at how much sweat I’d left on the machine. I was immediately sore, which lasted a couple days, but guess what I did later that week? A Megaformer class. It’s addictive.
What are the drawbacks?
It’s hard. Like, really hard. There are no rests between sets, and you exhaust each muscle group before moving to the next. You’ll shake and sweat profusely, but that’s how you get results, right? While it’s sometimes a feat to get through, you do eventually get used to it, but it will still never be easy. You’ll also probably get really sore after your first class, and your legs might feel wobbly.
Where can I try this workout myself?
So overall would I suggest taking the duchess’s lead and trying a Lagree class? What’s the royal way of saying “duh”?