When I received an email at work announcing the opening of a new fitness studio that just so happened to be in my neighborhood, I jumped to sign up for a trial class. Convenience is key to my fitness routine, so the location made it hard to pass up. However, when I learned the studio was founded by celebrity trainer Sebastian Lagree, who has worked with athletes like Edmonton Oiler Andy Sutton and former NFL player Paul Green, both of whom are quoted on Lagree’s website saying how challenging and intense they found his workouts, as well as actors Ben Stiller and Courtney Cox, I admit, I got a little worried. I’m not cardio-loving, weight-lifting gym rat. I’m a yoga-or-mat-Pilates-a-couple-times-a-week kind of girl. A Google search that led me to this profile on Lagree from the Telegraph a few years back, describing his past as an aspiring actor as a young man in France and his subsequent rise to become one of the top fitenss trainers in Hollywood, did nothing to calm my nerves. But I’d already committed, so I convinced myself I was up for the challenge.
Walking up the stairs into the brightly lit second floor studio this past Tuesday evening and meeting Lagree face-to-face (He was in Toronto teaching classes specially for the opening), I was immediately struck by 1) His height, 2) The size of his biceps, and 3) How genuinely eager and excited he to seemed to start the class. While he certainly wouldn’t look out of place starring opposite Willis, Van Damme, or Schwarzenegger in an Hollywood action movie, he seemed happily right at home in the fitness studio, waiting teach his next class.
An amped up version of Pilates, Lagree’s classes are designed to work your entire body and provide increased resistance training at a cardio-boosting pace. The machine used for the class (pictured above) is like a souped-up Pilates Reformer, designed by Lagree and dubbed the Megaformer. All pulleys, platforms, and padded handles, the learning curve on using this contraption would be a workout in it’s own right, if not for Lagree’s instruction and demo by one of the studio’s permanent instructors.
The class was intense, involving endless variations of lunges, crunches, push-ups, planks and bicep curls, all while fighting the resistence of the Megaformer. Lagree was attentive, walking around to each student to correct or compliment his or her form and providing encouragement throughout. Even in a class setting, his instruction had the touch of a personal trainer.
By the end of it, I was sweaty, my muscles were exhausted, and my knees felt like Jell-o. In a good way (Is that possible?). The next morning, it was apparent this class had work muscles I didn’t even know I had, let alone know the name of (can anyone name those on the upper back of your ribcage, just below your shoulder blades?). It’s now three days later, and my abs still get a tinge of pain when I laugh. Just so we’re clear, I’m not complaining’ In fact, I’m already planning to go back for more. This workout was unlike any I’ve done before, and pushed the limits of what I normally make my body do’ a sure sign that it will strengthen and tone it in ways that I haven’t achieved in the past.
Studio Lagree is located at 435 Spadina Rd in Toronto. It opens today.