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This Intense 25-Minute Workout is About to Get Harder

The creator of the Lagree Fitness Method and the Megaformer machines, Sebastien Lagree, does not want you to work out all the time. He recalls training as a bodybuilder for as many as 40 hours a week in his youth. “I hurt myself doing that,” he says. “I think in your 20s — and it was back in the ’90s — you thought, ‘well, if I train a little bit, I have a lot of results; if I train more, I’ll get more results; and if I train the most, I get the most results. The more I train, the more in shape I’m going to be!’ And that is absolutely not true.”

One of the selling points of the Lagree Fitness Method is that it’s really efficient. He has tailored the classes and equipment to offer a super-intense workout in as little as 25–45 minutes. The classes may be short, but they leave you sore for days. The patented 25-minute workouts are offered exclusively at their L.A. studio, but other classes are available at Lagree studios in cities all over the world — and Megaformer machines are found in studios that are not necessarily affiliated with Lagree.

HOW THE MEGAFORMER WORKS

The enticing — and intimidating — thing about this method is that you can’t phone it in. Your legs and arms are strapped in position among various tension-filled cords and cables, making it impossible to cheat. (Believe me, I’ve considered it.) I have a real love-hate relationship with these Megaformer classes — I even find myself getting nervous an hour before. “Will I survive this one?” I often wonder. Sometimes I try to think of excuses not to go — like doing my taxes. But, the next thing you know, I’m strapped to a Megaformer, legs shaking, as I try to push a mobile carriage away from my body, while clownishly attempting to gracefully maintain a lunging position.

For the uninitiated, here’s what you can expect from a megaformer class: “It’s all about that constant tension,” Lagree explains. “We do long sets of very slow, controlled movements.” Get ready for slow, precise movements that’ll work each and every muscle in your body, and a fusion of strength, endurance and cardio training.

READ MORE > PURE BARRE IS PURE AGONY (AND TOTALLY ADDICTIVE)

For me, the biggest challenge of Lagree is actually sticking with it. I can feel that it’s doing my body a world of good, yet it’s always tempting to choose an easier workout. “We have a tendency to rest on our laurels,” says Lagree. “In French, we have a saying that ‘l’appétit vient en mangeant,’ Only the habit of training can motivate you to keep on doing it — and that is why I recommend to sign up with a friend who will help you stay with it at the beginning until you can motivate yourself to keep going.”

Jen McChesney, a Lagree trainer, says mastering this workout takes time. “Just when you think you’ve got it, it gets harder because you start pushing yourself more or modifying to make things more advanced,” she says. She adds that the megaformer works muscles in ways most of us aren’t used to, which leaves many newbies struggling to find their balance in their first class. She suggests setting bite-size goals to stay strong: “The Lagree Method keeps you in a certain movement for a certain amount of time so set a goal each time to be able to go a little longer in a certain movement without having to take a break, or set a goal to try a more advanced version of something — even if only for 10 seconds.”

“It is a humbling experience,” she adds. “We often have athletes come in who are in super shape and leave saying ‘what the heck just happened?’ ”

LEVELING UP: THE SUPRAFORMER

Just when I thought I knew what to expect, I was told that the Lagree classes are about to get even more challenging — which is both exciting and terrifying for anyone familiar with the popular workout. Sebastien patented yet another machine, the Supraformer, which, so far, is only available to students in L.A. What makes this machine unique is that it can incline and tilt, forcing you to fight gravity as you try to get through each movement. He’s also working on evolving the Lagree workout to enable bursts of quick movements to trigger fast-twitch muscles (and, in theory, promote larger muscle growth).

“Women are no longer afraid of putting on a bit of muscle,” he says. “This year, with the advancement of the machine, we’re going to start adding on some explosive training in the implosive method.” Since creating the first workout in 2006, he says he’s made more than 500 alterations to his machine: “It’s a lot of evolution, but that’s in my nature. I think that’s also part of who I am. When you work out, I want it to be a perfect workout.”

Photo Credit: Lagree

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Museums, Churches, Bars and 5 More Offbeat Workout Spaces

No matter how much you love your local gym, sometimes a change of scenery is both nice and motivating. You may even feel inspired to exercise for longer and harder in a new setting, especially if it has a cool backstory, like these eight out-of-the-box, very non-traditional places to break a sweat across the U.S.

1. A MORNING AT THE MUSEUM

Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

What: Contemporary dance company Monica Bill Barnes & Company teamed up with and writer/illustrator Maira Kalman to create an exercise experience called the Museum Workout at the world-famous Met, which houses 5,000-plus years of iconic art. Wearing sequined dresses and tennis shoes, Barnes and dance partner Anna Bass take an intimate group of participants on a physical and interactive journey through the 137-year-old establishment located in Central Park. The 45-minute dance-cardio workout moves to the soundtrack of Kalman’s voice blended with disco and Motown hits.

When: Available on select Thursdays, January through March, at 8:30 a.m. before the museum opens to the public. The $ 35 tickets, which include admission to the museum for the rest of the day, are sold out for now, but check the website to see if they extend this popular program into the spring.

2. TAKE ME TO CHURCH

Where: Grace Cathedral in San Francisco

What: Vibrant yoga mats fill the aisles, alter and indoor labyrinth at this historically progressive Episcopal church — the country’s third-largest — in the heart of the city. Led by hatha flow and restorative yoga instructor Darren Main, the weekly practice begins with a brief reflection from a clergyman and is accompanied by live music. Hundreds of locals and travelers of all ages and abilities attend each week.

When: Every Tuesdays from 6:15–7:30 p.m., except in December. Class is free, but a $ 10–$ 20 donation is suggested. See the website for details.

3. POSES AND PINTS

Where: Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver

What: This 23-year-old brewery is as serious about its craft brews as it is about keeping its community hoppy, er, happy. Which is why since 2013 it has invited CorePower Yoga to host a free weekly class in its production facility on Brighton Boulevard. With a live DJ spinning in the background, a yoga instructor leads all levels in a highly physical, hourlong flow (prepare to sweat) to help students earn their booze after class at the brewery’s Barrel Bar.

When: The first Wednesday of every month. Starts at 6 p.m. sharp, so arrive early. Click here for more info.

4. YOGA IN THE SKY

Where: The LINQ Promenade in Las Vegas

What: Take your practice to new heights on the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel standing at 550 feet above the Strip at the LINQ Promenade. The ferris wheel, which debuted last spring, features 28 glass-enclosed spherical cabins that hold up to 40 people. During a 60-minute session in one of these cabins, a certified yoga instructor from Silent Savasana will guide up to six students through a sequence as the wheel completes two rotations (30 minutes each). Each participant wears a cool LED headset to hear the instructor’s voice, which is accompanied by a tranquil playlist.

When: Classes are offered every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Cost is $ 75 per person for a small group class; the ride alone starts at $ 28. Call 702-322-0593, or email at least 24 hours in advance.

5. HELLO DALI

Where: The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida

What: Bend your body and your mind at the Dali Museum, featuring the legendary artist, Salvador Dali’s, celebrated works, which includes more than 2,000 pieces from his entire career. An instructor from Lucky Cat Yoga teaches vinyasa and meditation to all levels in either in the Raymond James Community Room or outside in the Avant-garden (both offer stunning views of Tampa Bay). Each session captures Dali’s electric physical, mental and spiritual energy, which you can pour into your own practice.

When: Every Sunday morning from 10:30–11:45 a.m. throughout the year. Costs $ 10 members and students or $ 15 non-members. Click here for more info.

6. A DIVINE PRACTICE

Where: The Refectory at The High Line Hotel in Manhattan

What: Rumor has it, the historic Refectory is one of the most beautiful rooms in all of NYC. When you stop by the sacred 3,300-plus square foot space — it was once part of the General Theological Seminary built in 1895 — you can easily see why. Count your blessings on the mat as part of The High Line Hotel’s free, three-part yoga series, which was offered here last fall to all — hotel guests, locals and travelers alike. The series was such a hit, it will likely return this summer.

When: Dates vary, so send an email to be notified of upcoming classes.

7. HAPPY HOUR YOGA

Where: Concrete Beach Brewery in Miami

What: Come for the yoga, then say “namaste and have a pint” at the two-year-old Concrete Beach Brewery, which has partnered with Love Life Wellness Center to offer beginner-friendly yoga classes within the heart of the Wynwood Art District. Pints are $ 4 for participants and stay that low for the rest of the night.

When: The second Wednesday of every month. The free class takes place from 7 p.m.–8 p.m.

8. FLEX FOR FLIPPER

Where: Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage in Las Vegas

What: Usually, people gather to watch these highly intelligent sea creatures perform cool tricks for their entertainment. The Mirage, however, flips the script, inviting humans to put on a show for these sweet swimmers. Sign up for a soothing one-hour morning yoga class, which takes place right in front of the underwater viewing area where curious bottlenose dolphins can voyeuristically watch you attempt new poses.

When: Available Friday through Sunday at 8:30 a.m. for $ 50 per person, which includes a post-class smoothie and full access to the spa facility for the day. To book a session, call 702-791-7472. Click here for more info.


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5 Real Benefits of Workout Selfies

In late 2015, Karla Pankow was an occasional gym-goer who struggled to ditch soda, junky snack food and way too much sitting. Then she got on Instagram.

Setting a goal of losing 100 pounds, she decided to start taking gym selfies, although it was unsettling at first. “It made me feel incredibly vulnerable,” she recalls. “But nothing else was working to motivate myself. I thought that if I put myself out there, it might be the change I needed. And I was right.”

Not only did she lose the weight in about a year, but she also ended up becoming a certified personal trainer and nutritional therapy practitioner. Snapping a photo of herself nearly every day has been more of a boost than she ever anticipated. “I still feel like a goofball when I do it,” she says. “But now I can understand that there are serious benefits to something that can feel a little silly.”


Check out MyFitnessPal on Instagram for motivation on living a healthier life every day.


Gym selfies, of the kind Pankow takes, are ubiquitous on social media, particularly on Instagram, and they range across all types of fitness endeavors — from yogis snapping pics of themselves in backbends to weightlifters capturing their form in the mirror. Despite some eye rolling from non-gym types, they actually confer some benefits.

1. THEY MAKE YOU ACCOUNTABLE

If you take an extra rest day and it turns into a week — and then a month — you may be kicking yourself for it later, but it’s not like everybody else knows it. Unless you share it online, of course. Although that might feel like a reason not to post your pics, that level of accountability can often be the push you need, says Sloane Davis, a certified nutritionist and personal trainer.

“The best way to get, and make, any type of change is to be accountable,” Davis says. “Part of that is keeping track of what you’re doing. When posting a gym selfie, you’re bound to get positive feedback, and that helps keep you accountable.”

2. IT’S VISUAL PROOF OF YOUR PROGRESS

Day-to-day efforts may feel like they don’t add up to much, but when you glance at selfies taken months — or even just weeks — before, you’ll be instantly struck by the difference. “You’re more than likely to be pleasantly surprised by how much your body has changed and how far you’ve come,” says Davis.

3. THEY CAN INSPIRE OTHERS

One aspect of gym selfies that Pankow didn’t expect was the outpouring of questions and appreciation from others on the site. As she took her own journey to fitness, she realized early on that others were paying careful attention as well. Sometimes, followers would tell her that one of her pics motivated them to make healthier eating decisions, or to skip happy hour in favor of the gym. In turn, that fueled Pankow’s fire even more.

“I’ve always been a big believer in small steps leading to great results,” Pankow says. “If someone takes a small step because of a selfie I posted, that’s humbling. And, it makes me work even harder.”

4. IT’S A FORM OF VIRTUAL SUPPORT

Even though you might never meet your followers on Instagram, they can often become closer to you than some of your in-person friends, Davis notes. Plus, they may be that vital sense of support and encouragement when you need it. In just a few months, Davis went from 3,000 followers to over 10,000. Her use of selfies seemed to keep that number ticking up, and she feels a sense of community whenever she posts one.

“If you’re having a bad day or feel like giving up, your followers could be the exact inspiration and motivation you may need to keep going,” she says.

5. IT ENCOURAGES LIVING IN THE PRESENT

Everyone has those days at the gym when PRs seem a long way off and routines can seem a little, well, routine. Those are the moments when Pankow makes sure to capture a selfie the most.

“It reminds me of why I’m here,” she says. “It causes me to be more present, to appreciate this opportunity to get fit and really enjoy this workout. That’s a lot packed into a selfie, I know, but it works.”


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> 5 Surefire Upgrades to 5 New Year’s Resolutions


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A 20-Minute Glider Workout That’ll Tone Your Upper Body

You’ve probably seen those purple gliding discs at your gym or even used them in class for moves like lunges and mountain climbers. If you have, you know those little suckers make moves surprisingly harder.

“Gliders engage your muscles in a contracted way and allow your muscles to stretch,” explains Nina Koulogeorge, a New York City-based trainer at YG Studios. “You also use more of your core when working with gliders; therefore, you’re building core strength at all times.”

While it’s common to use gliders for lower-body and core work, you can also use them to strengthen your upper body. Try Koulogeorge’s 20-minute workout below to work your chest, arms, shoulders, back and core.

If you don’t have gliders, thin washcloths work on hardwood floors, and paper plates or the cover of a magazine will do on carpet.

THE WORKOUT

Perform each exercise 3 times, resting 30 seconds between sets. When you’ve completed 3 sets of the first exercise, move to the next exercise.

TRAVELING FOREARM PLANK
(No gliders)

  • Stand at the side of the mat so it is perpendicular to you. Lower to a forearm plank with your forearms on the mat, shoulders over elbows, neck aligned and abs contracted.
  • Keeping your feet planted, move your right forearm to the right side of the mat, then move your left forearm to meet it so you are back in forearm plank.
  • Move your left forearm, then your right, so you are back to center.
  • Repeat the movement to the left side of the mat, keeping your feet in place. Then return to center.
  • Continue alternating for 30 seconds.

CRAWLING FOREARM PLANK

  • With your feet on gliders on the floor, come to a forearm plank with your arms at one end of the mat.
  • Contract your abs, and crawl up and down the mat on your forearms, keeping your hips square.
  • Continue moving forward and backward up and down the mat for 30 seconds.

FLOOR CIRCLES

  • On all fours with your hands on gliders, slide your hands forward so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  • With your right hand, make a wide circle stretching out and around, keeping your arm straight and getting your abs close to the floor — keeping your abs contracted.
  • Repeat with your left hand.
  • Continue alternating for 1 minute.

ALTERNATING GLIDER PUSHUPS

  • On all fours with your hands on gliders. Slide your hands forward so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  • Keeping your left hand still, slide your right hand out to the right, and lower your chest to the ground like a pushup. Press back up, and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat, sliding your left hand out to the left.
  • Do 8 reps on each side.

GLIDER TRICEPS IGNITOR

  • On all fours with your hands on gliders. Slide your hands forward so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  • Keeping your left hand still, slide your right arm straight out until your abs touch the ground. Drive your arm back to the starting position, keeping your arm straight the entire time.
  • Repeat with your left arm.
  • Continue alternating for 30 seconds.

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