Have you seen those machines that look like a souped-up version of a Pilates reformer? They’re at studios like The Studio (MDR) and SLT in L.A. and NYC. If you’ve never tried one, they can appear intimidating. You might ask yourself: “How do I not become a causality while doing a plank and moving the carriage?”
Fear not—we’re here to clear things up. The fitness machine is called a Megaformer and we have a man named Sebastien Lagree to thank for it.
To learn more about the machine and classes, we tapped Lisa Hirsch Solomon, Founder of The Studio (MDR). Her L.A.-based studios specialize in the Lagree Method and have been around for the past eight years. A friend introduced Solomon to the method 11 years ago, and it completely changed her life. In January, she opened her fourth—and largest—location in downtown Culver City.
“This exercise platform works quickly (depending on diet), no matter how long you have been practicing,” Solomon explains. “[Since] the routines are constantly changing and evolving, your body never acclimates to the exercise regimen.” While this may not sound like a positive thing, she clarifies: “It never gets easier, but you continually get stronger, which is the ultimate motivator.”
The first and most important thing to know is to not be intimidated by the machine. “Just jump in,” Solomon encourages. “Give it five to 10 times before you stop feeling like a fish out of water and stick with it. I promise you, it is life-changing both physically and mentally.”
Anyone else suddenly feeling extremely motivated?
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know before taking your first Megaformer class.
1. The machine may look intimidating, but it's actually not scary
If you are new to The Studio, you’ll be given a rundown on exactly how to use the Megaformer. Wondering you adjust the machine? Throughout the session, the instructor will direct you to change springs (which is much simpler than it sounds).
2. Take an introductory class first
“In our Intro to (MDR) class, the instructor will demonstrate the use of the Megaformer, monitor the client’s alignment and technique throughout the class, and will encourage tweaks where needed,” explains Solomon. In an introductory session, you’ll also learn the different positions on the front, carriage, and back. Don’t be panicked: in every class, the instructor is there to guide you.
3. It takes a few classes to get the hang of it
“We always say that it takes between five and 10 times before a beginning client stops feeling like a fish out of water in class,” says Solomon. “Understand that this is okay and the client should not beat themselves up.” That’s sound advice we’re going to apply to any new class we take. Raise your hand if you’ve felt like by class number two you should be intermediate? Guilty.
4. You're going to need grip socks and water
Solomon requires all participants to wear grip socks during classes for safety and sanitary reasons. “The grip prevents from slipping on sweat and [off the] Megaformer.” Lisa recommends ToeSox or Sticky Be. Don’t have any? You can purchase them at the studio.
Like with any workout you’re also going to want to stay hydrated.
5. Classes are usually less than an hour
Megaformer classes are 50 minutes. It’s recommended to arrive 10 to 15-minutes early so you can get situated, meet the instructor and overall not feel rushed.
6. It's not supposed to get easier
“All of the classes are intense, but don’t let that deter you,” says Solomon. “They never get easier, but you feel yourself getting stronger each time, which motivates you to keep coming back! And you start feeling the results very quickly.” In other words: no matter your level, you'll feel like you're in it with everyone else in your class.
7. The classes prioritize safety
“It is crucial to listen for all the cues given by the instructor,” says Solomon on safety. “This is preceded by an introduction to the Megaformer to delineate how each part works.”
She goes on to explain that there will be modifications offered for those who have challenges with their knees, shoulders, etc. And if you need to stop, you stop. "You are not holding up the class in any way,” she emphasizes. “No one is staring at you. They are all concentrating on just trying to make it through. I think that everyone in the class has an immediate bond because you have to be strong physically and mentally to want to take this class.”
8. A consistent schedule works best
“We always suggest three times a week and add a fourth if you are getting ready for a special event, like a wedding,” says Lisa. “Your body does need to heal, so we encourage breaks between classes.”
9. Your core will become stronger
With any workout, results will vary because every person is different. “Some claim they see results right away and that is wonderful. I think that if in your mind’s eye you are feeling better mentally and physically, then it is working for you,” says Lisa.
She mentions that some clients see changes in their pants sizes in three to four months. Either way, you'll notice a definite change in your core after going consistently.
10. You're working out your entire body
Just because you'll see results in your core doesn't mean that's the only part of your body the workout is affecting. “The Lagree Method is designed to benefit every part of the body,” says Lisa. “The emphasis is on slow counts, with the body moving at a determined, slow pace. While your heart rate is up, muscles shake and sweat pours out of you.”
11. It's different from a Pilates reformer
Solomon shares that it’s different from a Pilates Reformer because of the intensity, low-to-no impact on the joints, and proven results.
“The slow four-count movements and the continuous segue from one move to the next that incorporates every muscle group each time is beneficial and body-changing,” she explains.
At the end of the day, fitness is supposed to be fun. Solomon emphasizes that you don't have to wait to work out at (MDR) until you feel strong enough. “(MDR) is where you get strong and find a community of people who will help to support you in anything you want to accomplish," she says. We’re all for that.
Click here to see what happened when an editor who hates working out ranked five workouts from least to most torturous.