Lagree Fitness, a Pilates-inspired workout popular among celebrities, found a home in the Palm Beaches when Marina Perrone opened Core Evolution in Palm Beach Gardens in 2013. Perrone recently expanded her fitness empire to include a studio in Boca Raton and a Wellington location opening this summer. On May 7, the creator of Lagree Fitness, Sebastien Lagree, will teach three classes at Core Evolution in Boca Raton.
A former bodybuilder turned personal trainer, Lagree developed his eponymous workout at the behest of his clients, who were looking for a more strenuous version of Pilates. “They wanted to sweat and they wanted to get stronger,” he says. “But they didn’t want to work with weights because they thought they would get bulky.”
Lagree hosted a boot camp that brought the best of cardio and weight training to the Reformer, a Pilates machine composed of a flat platform that rolls along a frame and uses a set of springs to control resistance. He soon found the Reformer could not keep up with him or his clients, so he set out to build his own device. In 2005, he unveiled the Proformer, which uses counter resistance to make the workout more intense. Lagree saw his workout gain further popularity with the release of his second machine, the Megaformer, which is used at Core Evolution.
Most Lagree Fitness classes last about 50 minutes, and participants burn around 700 calories. Lagree has also developed a ramp for the Megaformer that further ups the ante on the workout per class. “You lift the machine just a few inches off the ground, and you feel like you’re working out on the machine for the very first time,” he says.
Pilates practitioners will recognize Lagree Fitness’ mind-body connection and reliance on core control. But they will be surprised by the workout’s intensity. “It’s like you’ve gone your whole life at 60 miles an hour and now you can press on the pedal and go 300 miles an hour,” Lagree says. His biggest piece of advice for newbies: Take it slow. “You don’t want to tire yourself from the workout,” he says. “You want to feel invigorated.”
Here, Lagree discusses the basics and benefits of the the workout.
PBI.com: How frequently would you recommend working out with the Lagree Fitness method?
Lagree: Because it is rigorous you want to do it two, maybe three times a week. If it’s a 40-minute workout or a 55-minute workout, I would recommend to do two to three times a week because the benefit of the class is happening in between the sessions as your body recovers. We are now doing a 25-minute workout on the ramp. The ramp fits underneath the Megaformer and lifts it up off the ground on one level so you can actually workout now on the Megaformer on an angle. So when you workout with that added intensity [you should do] 25 minutes. If you do only a 25-minute workout, then you can do it four to five times a week.
How does this method improve posture?
Attention to form and body alignment. Lots of people work out with weights and they have lousy posture or they twist the spine and stuff like that and, basically, the weight training is strengthening those imbalances in the body. When you get on the Megaformer, you have attention to form and body alignment [and] you want to make sure that all the muscles are firing so you keep the balance in the muscles.
How does it improve flexibility?
Because you work the muscle in its length. When you do weight training and, for example, you do an explosive set with some weights, what you’re essentially doing is you’re teaching the muscles to get shorter by focusing just on a portion of the movements. When we do Lagree Fitness, we work the muscles both in a positive and a negative, and we focus a lot on that negative tension on the lengthening phase. Essentially, you are strengthening your muscles without shortening them so you can basically keep the length of the muscle. If your muscles are the same length, you don’t need to stretch.
You say Lagree encourages maximum exertion while allowing for low risk of injury; how so?
That was my old way of thinking that you really have to maximize the effort. … Now that we have a broad audience, I realize it shouldn’t be about maximizing, it’s really about optimizing. I used to have the hardcore people working at my studio but now that we’ve opened up to a broad audience, I realize that we want to open up the intensity just so it’s effective and everything greater than that becomes harmful. So my words are more about optimization and effective stimulation. I try to stay away from words like tiring the muscles. You don’t want to tire yourself from the workout. You want to feel invigorated.