Sweating, being watched while working out, and balancing on heavy machinery are not quite my favorite pastimes. So when my friend first told me about a megaformer pilates class she had done at PLNK St. Louis, I didn't exactly jump out of my chair and swap out my PJs for yoga pants. But after a few minutes of lobbying (and the promise of brunch afterwards), she miraculously convinced me to join her for the next class.

The class ended up being super fun and not quite as deathly as I had expected. I was excited to learn that the trend of megaformer pilates is taking the fad fitness world by storm. Here's everything you need to know about the fitness method that even the Victoria Secret angels have been swearing by.

What is Lagree Fitness?

Lagree Fitness is a licensed fitness method designed around the megaformer machine—a training machine equipped with a moveable carriage, springs, pulleys, and hanging straps for different moves that incorporate both strength and balance. The method was invented by Sebastien Lagree, who created the workout with the hope of utilizing all five elements of physical fitness: cardio, strength, endurance, body composition, and flexibility. 

The actual megaformer workout includes slow, small movements under high levels of resistance with a focus on the core. Like barre and many other weight-training methods, the workout aims to activate slow-twitch muscles—in other words, the goal is to get you shaking like a leaf. Spoiler: it works. 

A typical class with the megaformer is broken up into different sections for each muscle. In any given section (which may focus on legs, glutes, arms, or core) around two minutes are dedicated to each move. Within that two minutes, part of the time is spent holding the pose, and part of the time is dedicated to "full-range" engagement of the targeted muscle. 

What are the benefits?

Unlike weight-lifting and more traditional strength training, the Lagree fitness method helps build long lean muscle mass by "increasing stamina and oxygen capacity of your muscles." One of the major benefits of this approach is that it keeps your body burning major calories all day long, not just during the class itself. And lets be honest, who doesn't love working without doing work?

While megaformer pilates classes are major calorie-busters, the studio I went to emphasized that the main goal is to get stronger, not skinnier. With motivating phrases around the room like "you gotta sweat for it" and "you got this," I felt no shortage of motivation during the PLNK class I attended. 

My impressions

Workout aside, I was initially a bit confused about the strange terminology that was used in my class at PLNK. While I understand terms when it comes to exercises like planks and squats, I had never done the "mermaid," "catfish," or "scrambled eggs" in a workout class before.

After getting the hang of the new Lagree lingo, I began to see why megaformer pilates have become so popular among the fitness elite. The workout is definitely effective and makes you quiver like you've never imagined. That being said, the class is set up so that each individual exercise is only done for a short amount of time. I loved this fast-paced structure—it made the class much more bearable because by the time I had worked one muscle to full capacity, I could move on to the next. 

Another thing I really liked about the workout was that it went by so quickly. Unlike running or other basic cardio, the complex moves pretty much forced me to channel my energy into doing the movements correctly. Before I could even look at my friend to wince in pain or roll my eyes, we were all wiping down our megaformers, and the 50-minute class was over. 

While going to that first PLNK class was definitely a challenge, I must say I'm hooked. With such a fast-paced, exciting, and time efficient class, it's no wonder that the Lagree fitness method has become one of the biggest new trends in the fitness world.