What is Lagree? Instructor reveals why it could be your new favourite workout

Instructor explains why this low-impact version of Pilates is perfect for those looking to improve their strength and balance

Woman scrolling on phone sitting on a yoga mat at home, surrounded by plants after finishing a Pilates workout, learning about what is Lagree
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What is Lagree? Loved by fitness enthusiasts around the world for its low-impact benefits, if you're looking to change up your exercise routine, focus on strength, and want to try something new, then it could be the workout for you. 

You've probably heard of Pilates. It's a low-impact exercise you can do on the mat or on a Reformer, a spring-resistance machine designed to increase the strengthening benefits of the workout. Pilates has become one of the most popular ways to workout, especially for women. But its more energetic, younger sister, known as Lagree, might be about to take over the fitness world.

Lagree is based around a machine similar to the Reformer, known as the Megaformer. During instructor-led classes, the Megaformer is used for a combination of bodyweight exercises and resistance moves to help improve strength, fitness, and balance. While Lagree may seem similar to Pilates for strength training, the Lagree method actually uses bodybuilding principles. This may sound a little intimidating - but stay with us because it's ideal if your goal is to get stronger and build muscle. 

Created by Sebastien Lagree in 1998, the Lagree Method was developed as an alternative to typical forms of high-intensity exercises, like running and even walking as a workout to some extent, which can place a lot of pressure on the joints. 

What is Lagree?

Lagree is a low-impact, high-intensity workout that incorporates a range of slow and controlled movements on the Megaformer machine that are designed to build strength.

"Lagree really focuses on time under tension," says Mona Halawi, Lagree instructor and founder of MAD Lagree Studios, based in London. "We spend up to 12 minutes working on one leg, with four or five different variations of exercises, with pulses and holds."

The Megaformer machine has a variety of springs, which can be adjusted to reduce or increase the resistance of the machine. When there is more resistance on the machine, the muscles have to work harder to complete the exercises - similarly to when you do an exercise with weights - which builds muscle.

The Lagree Method tends to incorporate supersets into workouts. Supersets involve doing two exercises back-to-back with no rest, generally focusing on similar areas of the body, in order to burn out the muscles.

A reformer machine, which is very similar to the Megaformer machine used in Lagree

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Benefits of lagree

1. Lagree is low-impact but high intensity

Still wondering what is Lagree? It's a great option for people who are looking to get their heart rate up and boost endurance, without taking part in high-impact exercises that might feel heavy on the joints. 

"[With Lagree,] however old you are or however your joints are, you won't be putting any pressure on your knees or your elbows or your shoulders. There's no impact or jumping," Halawi explains.

High-intensity exercise that engages the muscles is also a great way to burn calories. In fact, a study by Sacred Heart University found that women who take part in resistance training or HIIT not only burn calories while exercising but for up to 14 hours afterwards too. If you're looking to lose weight without exercising every day, this could be the workout to go for. 

2. Lagree can help improve posture or balance

Lagree involves lying on or balancing different body parts on the sliding part of the Megaformer. This means that staying balanced is the first challenge before you even begin any of the specific exercises. 

Maintaining good form is crucial in order to get the most out of Lagree, and it's a great way to build core strength, improve your posture, and work on your balance. "You have to move slowly and keep things tight everywhere so you end up engaging all of your muscles," Halawi explains.

3. Lagree has positive mental health benefits

Lagree is generally done in a class environment, with an instructor guiding you through each move.  "It's similar to yoga for beginners because the mind-body activation is important," Halawi says. "You really need to be focussed as you move slowly and count, knowing exactly what part of your body you are using."

If yoga or meditation isn't your thing, Lagree could be a great way to take some time out for yourself and focus on your mind. "You finish with your mind feeling activated as well as your body," Halawi says.

4. It's easy to modify lagree

If you have an injury, you're pregnant or pre-menopausal, there are plenty of ways to make Lagree work for you. "People who do injuries often do Pilates or Lagree because there's little risk of worsening the injury," says Halawi.

"It's a safe workout because you're moving slowly and you can control how low you go, for example, if you have hip problems. You can also move at a slower pace if you need," she adds.

With knowledgeable instructors leading each class, you can always ask them for ways to modify and regress certain exercises if they don't work for you, while still getting a great workout in.

Does lagree build muscle?

"The resistance on the Megaformer acts as weights," explains Halawi. This means that Lagree has similar benefits to traditional strength training, like lifting weights or resistance band exercises.

If gyms aren't your thing or don't enjoy it, Lagree is a great alternative way to build muscle. "You are slowly resisting against the weights, which is safer for the muscles," the instructor says. 

Lagree vs Pilates

The main difference between Lagree and Pilates is that Pilates is a low-intensity workout and Lagree is a high-intensity workout. The other differences are: 

  • There's less rest during Lagree compared to Pilates: "You take a lot of breaks in Pilates workouts, whereas in Lagree you move really quickly and target the same muscle groups [for a longer period of time]," Halawi explains. "Because there are no breaks and the intensity is always high, you burn calories in the same way you would during a cardio workout." 
  • Lagree is focused on building strength in specific muscles, whereas Pilates will help you build overall strength: Lagree also has a big focus on time under tension, spending a good amount of time on each area of the body before moving on. 
  • The Megaformer is more advanced than the Pilates Reformer: "The machine is sturdier, heavier, and it has the capacity to do more movements," Halawi says. The Lagree machine also allows the instructor to change the setup of the springs and the resistance, whereas users of Reformer Pilates machines have to do this themselves. This is beneficial for Lagree as it means there are quick transitions between each exercise and the muscles are constantly under tension.  
  • Lagree is less common than Pilates: Lagree is a popular workout that started in the US and slowly it's being recognised more in the UK. Chances are though, you're more likely to find a Reformer Pilates studio than a studio offering Lagree. However, there are many out there - so take a look at some of the best workout apps, like ClassPass, to find a studio near you.

Lagree might be better for people who are looking to build strength and burn calories while building up their endurance levels, while Pilates is great for mobility, strength and coordination.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist based in the UK, covering health, wellbeing, sex and relationships, amongst other topics. She has a particular interest in women’s experiences and interests. Putting her screen time to good use, Alice also regularly writes about TikTok and the internet, often exploring and trying out the weirdest and most wonderful trends.

Alice has bylines at publications including Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29, amongst other titles, and was invited to speak on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in 2022. She was previously a staff writer at Stylist Magazine, covering news and lifestyle.