I should say from the get go that I’m not a Pilates, yoga or Lagree aficionado (read: never done it). I exercise fairly regularly but am more your running, circuit and high-intensity interval training kind of person. I’m telling you this because I knew before my initial Lagree class at Australia’s first branded Lagree studio, which has just opened in Double Bay, I’d feel the effects of working muscles I don’t normally punish. And I did – in a very good way.
Lagree Fitness happens on a contraption called the “Megaformer”. It’s three metres long and could be mistaken for a Pilates reformer machine, but it has extra resistance settings, cables, straps, pulleys and can be operated from the front and the rear of the machine. People call Lagree “Pilates on steroids”, and as Lagree Fitness Australia head trainer Rachel Reed takes me through the slow, controlled movements the machine was made to facilitate – held for at least four seconds in and four seconds out, which work on multiple muscle groups at once – I come to agree that description’s accurate.
One of the reasons I don’t tend to do yoga and the like is because I don’t feel I’m building a sweat. But during this workout I do, and afterwards I can tell my muscles have been worked. “It is intense on the muscles but low impact and safe on the joints, spine and connective tissue,” says Reed. “Lagree is all about training at a slow tempo for the body to reprogram neuromuscular patterns, so generally, when you do other things, the body remembers how to do it more efficiently.”
The 50-minute class begins with about five minutes of core exercises, followed by eight or so minutes of leg and glute work each side. You also work the obliques and upper body. You do standing lunges, squats, push-ups and planks, and the time between exercises is brief so your heart rate remains high. The aim is to move the platform (the resistance can be adjusted to make the exercises harder or easier), and the movements are subtle. Your muscles will shake and your core will be super engaged. If you’re new to this type of exercise you’ll become well aquatinted with your core – trust me, you’ll feel that bad boy the day after.
“It’s an effective and efficient high-intensity but low-impact muscular endurance workout. It’s designed to be time efficient and it effectively stimulates strength, endurance, cardiorespiratory health, body composition, flexibility, core and balance,” says Reed.
Lagree was developed by trainer Sebastien Lagree in the early 2000s, and because the Megaformer reduces excessive stress on the joints and connective tissue, the class attracts people who have injuries. “Sebastien wanted a machine that could give a full body workout in a short space of time without having to change too many parts or modify any equipment. [He created] a machine and a program that protects the body from injury and also ensured low impact and high intensity,” says Reed.
This isn’t a tranquil pastel-hued studio but a place built for efficiency. The no-frills space fits the activity. And with 10 machines each class is capped to 10 people. First timers can try four classes for $40; drop-in classes are $40 and a five-class package is $165.
Lagree Fitness Australia
Shop 1, 409–411 New South Head Road, Double Bay
Open daily, check website for specific class times.