The first things people say to me when I tell them I teach Lagree on a megaformer is “What the hell is that?” or “Oh yeah my gym has those machines- pilates right?”. My response… “Almost but not quite”. While Sebastien Lagree did gain his inspiration for the work out from a traditional pilates machine, those who have tried both can easily point out the differences.
When Sebastien Lagree was introduced to pilates, he was drawn to the many benefits such as reduced stress on the joints, increased strength and conscious body movement. He quickly realized however that the exercises didn’t provide him with a complete full body work out. While he liked the idea of using one machine to complete the entire work out, he felt that a cardiovascular and endurance component was missing. He created the first Megaformer machine (called a Proformer at first) in 2003. The machine was based off the Pilates version but included springs to adjust the tension of the moving platform (called the “carriage”. The goal of a Lagree session is to completely fatigue the muscles. Followers expect to see shaking, trembling and feel an increased heart rate- all things that are often missing from a traditional pilates work out.
The goal of the work out is to activate the slow twitch muscle fibers – the endurance muscles. These are the smaller muscle fibers which are more difficult to turn on and keep working long after your work out is over. This means a longer calorie burn for you throughout the day! Working the slow twitch muscle fibers also gets your heart rate up (this is where the endurance piece comes in). Your heart rate is elevated because of the strength and concentration it takes for the muscles to hold your body in each position. Most longer moves have a “hold and pulse” element to them also (similar to certain Barre exercises) which further fatigue the muscle.
The work out is designed to not only elevate your heart rate, but keep it up through the majority of class. The transitions between moves are very quick and there are no “breaks”. Tension on the machine is changed by adding or subtracting “springs” depending on what type of move is being performed. There are always ways to make the exercise more challenging – either by adding more springs or repositioning your body on the machine.
Each Lagree exercise also works EVERY body part at the same time. Even though each exercise “focuses” on a certain body part (blocks are broken into legs, arms, center abs and obliques), rest assured, all muscle groups will be firing at once. Maintaining tension throughout the entire body for the entire 40 or 50 minute class ensures you don’t have to do additional exercise afterward. Take it from me, your body will be fatigued, you will sweat, and most importantly you will feel stronger almost immediately!