I had no idea what to make of the Lagree Method or Centered Pilates on Capitol Street when I stepped through the door.
I had an email about the megaformer and a kind of a nod from a friend that the place was good, but my opinion of Pilates was sort of jaded.
Years ago, I’d done a phone interview with a comedian I’d admired. I’d hoped for funny and charming, but he’d been bland and seemed a little resentful to even be talking to me.
It was weird.
The most memorable thing that came out of that brief conversation was his belief that his regular Pilates routine was very important to him.
Maybe he was just having a really bad day or maybe I was asking extra dumb questions.
Anyway, because of that one conversation, I guess Pilates seemed like a “Hollywood thing,” just a fancier way to do yoga (which also seemed like a “Hollywood thing” to me at one time), and not really for someone like me who lifted weights and wanted to believe he was only 10 pounds from being Conan the Barbarian (who is sort of a Hollywood creation).
But with me turning over a new leaf in my own fitness, I was willing to look at all the things I’d disregarded or had held with inexplicable and (honestly) unreasonable disdain.
I was willing to take a look at this new thing from the local Pilates studio. So, I went met with co-owner Amy Teter. We shot some pictures and talked about the robot in disguise-sounding thing called a “Megaformer.”
Right off the bat, I was interested in trying it out. The whole Lagree Method sounded like the polar opposite of the CrossFit classes I’ve been taking over the last few months.
It sounded like the opposite of almost every group fitness class I’ve ever been in.
CrossFit relies on mostly very primitive equipment. You use barbells, chinup bars and kettle bells. You might have to use a rowing machine or a stationary bike, but just as often you’re running laps or jumping rope.
Lagree used the megaformer, which was a big, honking piece of gear that seemed like a cross pollination of a ski machine, a rowing machine and some kind of weird sled.
It looked sturdy and expensive.
CrossFit is a lot of vigorous activity. Most workouts are timed, one way or another. Either you’re trying to get finished before a certain time or you’re trying to get everything on the workout list completed as fast as possible.
Lagree is slow. It’s deliberate. You’re not competing with anyone. The only clock running is for the session and maybe the parking meter on Capitol Street.
Each movement is done at a measured pace, similar to how you do yoga. It’s intense, but very, very slow.
I was curious as to how this would play out and if my time with CrossFit would give me an edge on the workout, make it easier.
Short answer: nope.
I showed up for my first class on a Friday morning. Amy told me to stash my street shoes and gave me a pair of really decent slippers socks, then I went to the back of the studio where they keep the four megaformers.
At first, it looked like I might be doing the class on my own, but after a couple of minutes, an attorney and a paralegal showed up to take the class. Both were far fitter and more graceful than me, but that’s still kind of a low bar to get over.
Over the course of about 50 minutes, Amy took us through a series of exercises that were basically body weight-based. The megaformer created extra tension, helped focus specific muscle groups and I struggled to keep up.
I kept looking over a the other Lagree students to see if I was doing it right. A couple of times I thought I was going to face plant off the machine, but I didn’t.
I got through it and felt like I’d been through something.
Through the workout, I’d had my wobbly moments. I’d broken a sweat. I’d prayed quietly for time to speed up –all normal things for me during every workout.
Lagree was kind of impressive. I wound up with some soreness in the following days, primarily in my inner thighs and abs –but it was entirely muscle related. Nothing in my joints.
I think if you’re looking for something different or if you’re getting over a back injury, this is probably as good a workout as you can find.