Although Pilates has been around for a long time, it has become one of the most popular forms of exercise in the past decade. It’s estimated that more than 10 million people practice Pilates around the world, and there are always new developments in the exercise. The standard version of Pilates puts an emphasis on your core muscles that include the abdomen, hips and lower back. There are a lot of yoga-esque techniques involved in Pilates as there is a large emphasis on breathing, posture and centering.

Among the new forms of Pilates is something that has taken Hollywood by storm, and it’s called Megaformer. Megaformer was designed by Sebastien Lagree, a trainer that has been running studios for more than 15 years. The Megaformer was his second Pilates design after the Proformer, and has been the most popular of his designs. Let’s look into the world of Megaformer to see if it could be the right workout as you try to get in shape for 2017.

Lagree’s Invention

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Sebastien Lagree is always experimenting with workout equipment and trying to figure out ways to make it more effective. He has taken treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bicycles and added parts to it to create a new machine. While not all of them work the way he would like, the Megaformer has seen a lot of success.

Lagree was once an aspiring actor before he got into personal training when he was almost addicted to working out, hitting the gym three times per day. The training was just to pay the bills at first, but he would end up hitting it big because of his designs. After trying out Pilates, Lagree said “I thought this was the biggest scam ever. I come from a background that physical fitness needs to be exertive, you need to sweat, you need to be sore.”

Lagree said that one of the complaints he heard about Pilates is that it didn’t feel like much of a workout, with some clients agreeing that they weren’t sweating and felt the need to do another exercise afterward. When he set out on his own and opened his first studio, and spent more than $100,000 to build the prototype of the first Megaformer machine. There weren’t many people keen on the idea at first, but it started to catch on and even bring in some celebrity clients.

Celebrities on Megaformer

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Speaking of those celebrities, there are some huge A-list stars that swear by the Megaformer to get into shape. Here are just some of the celebs that have gushed about the workout that has really swept the country by storm in the past couple of years.

Sofia Vergara – The actress known most from the hit show “Modern Family” has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for Megaformer. “The workout is really intense and works so many different muscles at the same time,” she said. “I love it because it works out muscles I didn’t even know I had.”

Kim Kardashian – Reality star and one of the biggest celebrities out there, Kim Kardashian has credited Megaformer for her famous curves. Kardashian has even worked directly with Lagree to whip into shape after giving birth.

Michelle Obama – United States First Lady Michelle Obama has some of the most famous arms in the entire world. She credits her physique to Megaformer and has taken classes in the past. An endorsement straight from the White House is one of the biggest that you could possibly ask for.

Vanessa Hudgens – “High School Musical” star Vanessa Hudgens has been spotted taking Megaformer classes regularly to keep up her great figure in Brooklyn. Though she doesn’t talk much about it, it’s clear that the Megaformer system has been working.

Alessandra Ambrosio – Brazilian model and actress Alessandra Ambrosio has a lot of pressure in keeping up her tight appearance, and stays in shape with the Megaformer workouts. Getting that long and lean look is important as a model, and it certainly appears to have a positive effect on Ambrosio’s career.

How does Megaformer Work?

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Lagree has spoken about his Megaformer method frequently as of late since there seems to be so much interest. Lagree has said that Megaformer is “a cardiovascular workout, it’s strength training, and it’s not going to bulk (you) up.” How it happens on the machine is by contracting your muscles for longer than other workouts.

Lagree explains that “When you keep a muscle contraction for over 60 seconds, it’s going to have that effect of really tightening and sculpting the muscle. Usually you do it for a shorter time, but we do sets that are 60 to 120 seconds, and that’s how much time you keep the muscle tense. It’s very hard to do, so you’ll see people shaking and sweating. It definitely increases the heart rate, and that’s the magic.”

Since the workouts are so intense, clients usually do just three sessions per week that last for an hour instead of six days per week. It’s also a low impact workout, so those that are suffering from achy joints might find themselves right at home with Megaformer, but it might be intense for those that are new to the gym. There are a lot of different aspects at work with Megaformer, which increases the difficulty.

“Physical fitness is more than being able to run a long distance or lift heavy weights at the gym,” Lagree said. “While these are important measures of fitness, they only address single areas.” Lagree’s Megaformer method says that true physical fitness is made up of strength, endurance, cardio, body composition and flexibility.

So now you know the science of the workout, but what does each session entail? The Megaformer machine has spring loaded resistance that you stretch out slowly to get maximum contractions. While you’re trying to stretch your muscles out, your breathing will increase as you power through the resistance, increasing your cardio activity. After one minute of fighting against the resistance, you’ll need a moment to regather yourself.

The Megaformer Studio Workout

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Lagree has studios all around the United States, as well as countries like Sweden, Hong Kong and Canada. Not every studio that teaches Megaformer techniques will be a Lagree Studio, as there are many Pilates studios that carry classes. The typical class is around 40 minutes long, and is broken down into two halves with both lower body and upper body being covered. There are many different poses that you will use on Megaformer, some with odd names like the spoon or swimmer.

These sessions can burn up to 800 calories, which is quite a lot for a workout that lasts for under an hour. Lagree has said that his clients see a very quick transformation on the program, and says that to get the completely lean look you also need to stay away from junk food and watch the calories. Although after burning 800 calories, you get a little wiggle room in what you’re eating.

As for how much it costs to go through a Megaformer class, they can be quite expensive. Depending on what studio you’re going to, it can cost $40. That’s not for a month of classes, either, that’s just for one session. There are monthly options in most studios, as well, but those can be pretty pricey. If you don’t want to go into the studio, you can even buy your own Megaformer machine. Just be prepared to shell out a lot of money, as they can cost between $6,000 and $7,000.

Summing it Up

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The Megaformer machines can be adjusted in resistance to all fitness levels, but those that are already in good shape will even find it difficult to get started. It’s one of the hardest workouts out there right now, which is perhaps why it has gained so much popularity. Unlike other popular workouts, though, there is low impact and a low risk of injury, which is another added benefit.

Most classes will have an instructor that’s able to get you through the class, even if you are a beginner. The biggest downfall is the price of Megaformer, as both buying the machine and taking the classes are expensive options. Megaformer is an incredibly effective method that’s worth the price for those that can afford it, though, as burning that many calories and working out more than 600 muscles in just one workout is amazing.

Overall, it’s easy to suggest Megaformer if you have the time and money (and studio in your area). It has worked for a lot of celebrities (we just scratched the surface on the long list of clients), and it can work for you. Maybe one day the workout that has been called “Pilates on Crack” can be more accessible, and it’s only a matter of time with the growing popularity.