Hollywood's hottest fitness trend comes north
Credit: Britney Gill

Hollywood's hottest fitness trend comes north

An inconspicuous entrance between a decades-old record store and electric company on West Hastings Street in Gastown leads down a flight of stairs to Vancouver’s hottest, sweatiest and newest import—Lagree West.

Lagree Fitness was started by LA-based celebrity trainer Sebastien Lagree, who designed the workout to offer the benefits of Pilates combined with a rigorous, calorie-burning cardio element,” says Lagree West founder Barbie Bent. “He quickly developed a cult following, with many high-profile devotees including the long and lean Victoria's Secret Angel Karlie Kloss, and Michelle Obama.”

Bent discovered Lagree Fitness while living in Toronto—there are currently half a dozen studios in Canada and over 200 worldwide—and then in London, and became such a fan that she decided to become a licencee and open her own studio.

“I was shocked that such a fitness-driven community like Vancouver didn't already have Lagree, and immediately wanted to share the workout,” says Bent. “I believed that once people tried it, they would become hooked just like I was.”

And they have. The intimate classes fill up fast, with just 12 spaces available at each of the 40+ classes per week.

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The workout
Credit: Britney Gill

The workout

“I love the intensity and length of the workout—you can really feel the burn,” says Bent, one of Lagree West’s 10 super fit instructors (the “Lagree Legends”), who teach the 40-minute method that incorporates Pilates, cardio and strength training set to awesome music.

That’s right—it’s over and done with in 40 short minutes.

And you’ll have given it your full effort. In fact, the intense concentration it takes to engage your upper, middle and lower body in coordination throughout each exercise, while pushing through unprecedented muscle shakes, means there’s simply no room for any worries to enter your mind.

While it’s a seriously high-intensity workout, the low impact and slow movements make it safe for all levels.

“Lagree is a full-body workout that promotes long, lean muscles, increased core strength, and improved flexibility,” says Bent. “We have a lot of recovered athletes that are so happy to have found a workout with the intensity of Lagree that they can participate in, which is due to its low impact nature.”

All of Lagree West’s classes follow the same format, “but the routine and music varies each class,” says Bent. “I've been doing it for over three years and it still feels new.”

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The Megaformer
Credit: Britney Gill

The Megaformer

“Most people are a bit shell-shocked after their first session when they get off the Megaformer,” says Bent. “We hear the words 'hardest 40 minutes' a lot, but then people keep coming back! I think they like the challenge and the results.”

Sebastien Lagree riffed on the Pilates Reformer to create the Megaformer.

“The Megaformer is designed to enable quick transitions so that you work for 40 minutes, non-stop,” says Bent of Lagree’s creation, inspired when as a Pilates instructor he noticed his clients were hitting the treadmill to get their sweat on after class.

“The Megaformer, with its sliding platform, adjustable handlebars, resistance bands, and bungee cord, helps work the core and sculpt the entire body without adding bulk because every move is done in slow motion—which targets your slow-twitch muscle fibres,” says Bent.

“The location of the Megaformer’s springs, increased length of the machine, double-sided platform and variation in handlebars all differentiate this platform from any other in fitness today—and the adjustable spring tension and variations in the moves keep you from hitting a plateau.”

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The studio
Credit: Britney Gill

The studio

“The space is located in Gastown but has a NYC-vibe. We wanted to combine an industrial urban feel with West Coast elements, celebrating the beautiful grit of Vancity,” says Bent of her collaboration with designer Jen Eden of Occupy Design

“You walk downstairs, so you feel as if you're going to a basement, but then it opens up to big glass doors looking into an alley with amazing graffiti.”

Lagree West—the only studio offering the Lagree Fitness method in B.C.—is expanding to North Vancouver, with Bent’s second studio opening in Lower Lonsdale this month, just four months shy of the West Hastings location’s first anniversary.

“We've also got some cool new classes in the works,” says Bent. “MegaYOGA anyone?!”

Lagree West is located on 431 West Hastings Street