Sebastien Lagree’s Megaformer Machines Put the Sweat in Pilates


Sebastien Lagree, the designer of exercise machines called Megaformers outside his company’s Burbank, Calif., warehouse. CreditEmily Berl for The New York Times.

On a recent afternoon, Sebastien Lagree knelt down and plucked a spring rigged up to an elliptical machine. He climbed aboard the Frankenstein-ian creation, one of many scattered about the Burbank, Calif., headquarters of his company, Lagree Fitness, which occupies a warehouse that brings to mind a mad scientist’s lab.

“On these machines here, I’m experimenting having a mix of static and variable tension,” he said, pedaling slowly. “It’s like, out there, to drive cars, you have gas, diesel and electricity. Think about another way of powering a car that’s clean energy, that’s abundant, it’s the perfect kind of energy you want. That’s what I’m working on.”

This is how Mr. Lagree spends many of his days: toying with tension and figuring out how to better use it in a piece of exercise equipment he invented, the Megaformer, the basis of a core-burning workout that blends Pilates, cardio and strength training. A wobbly carriage that can be pushed and pulled, lunged on and squatted down to, the machine challenges those atop it in ways that traditional Pilates may not.


If you're the type of person who doesn't feel satisfied with a workout unless you're sore the next day, you need to check out the latest fitness trend: The Lagree Fitness Method has been big in California for a few years now, but it's just now sweeping the country; it's currently offered at more than 100 studios across America, and more locations are in the works.

Founder Sebastien Lagree developed the workouts in Los Angeles after he noticed how many of his clients were hitting the treadmill directly after their Pilates sessions. "I told them, 'If you want cardio, I can give you a Pilates workout that gets your heart rate up,'" he says. Eventually, he even approached engineers about designing an amped up version of a reformer that comes ...


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