High Intensity, Low Impact Megaformer Workout Hits in Shanghai

By Sophie Steiner, February 22, 2021

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We woke up this morning with achy abs, tired arms and jelly legs. While this is usually due to a series of bad decisions (that are almost always correlated with drinking too much), today was different. The soreness was good. 

Why? Because last night we took our first Megaformer class at The Megaformer Lab, a high intensity, low impact workout that is all the rage right now in the USA, Europe and Australia.

It’s like Pilates… mixed with weight lifting… on crack. Although we haven’t fully committed yet to drinking the Kool-Aid, we are sipping. 

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The Background 

Started in the early 2000s by LA-based Sebastien Lagree, the Lagree Fitness Method and Megaformer equipment now holds over 90 patents and is the hottest exercise trend in the industry. From one personal training gym in LA, the company has grown to over 300 studios spread across 23 countries. 

The key differentiator, and the reason why this workout has become the go-to option for celebrities like Megan Markle, Chrissy Tiegen and Kim Kardashian, is that the exercise is high intensity but low impact – resulting in lean and toned muscles without the added risk of injury or stress on joints.

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The Megaformer machine is a full-body piece of equipment, looking similar to a Pilates machine, but it works everything from arms to abs to chest to back to legs efficiently and in a short amount of time. 

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In fact, most classes are only 45 minutes and leave participants sore all over after working each individual muscle group. Simultaneously combining cardio, strength, endurance, balance and flexibility, the use of springs minimizes additional joint strain to prevent injuries, while ensuring muscles are constantly under tension and working. 

The Megaformer Lab - Shanghai

The Megaformer Lab, located on the second floor of Shankang Li just above Alimentari Grill, is the first and only Lagree Megaformer workout studio in China. With 10 Megaformer machines, floor to ceiling windows and an industrial vibe that gets trainees in that hardcore workout mindset, there’s no way to not have a superb session, regardless of your fitness level. 

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Classes are all 45 minutes long, for now, with various focuses. Whether you want a full body endurance workout, an arm toner session or to focus on your abs and glutes, you can find a class to suit your fitness goals. 

The studio is currently in soft opening, with three class times spread throughout the day (9am, 12pm and 7:30pm), but after the grand opening party, which will take place on March 6, the class schedule will increase to 7+ classes per day, with more options to come. 

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There are currently seven trained instructors, so you can also build your workout schedule around your preferred trainer’s timetable, if that’s your thing.

The Experience 

Skeptical about how a low impact form of exercise could also be considered ‘high intensity’ we gave Megaformer Lab a try. Although we aren’t pro-athletes, this is not our first rodeo at the gym either. We wanted to compare how the Megaformer-based workout actually stacks up to other high intensity workouts we’ve tried like F45, Orange Theory, Crossfit, Peloton, Nike Training and the likes. A 45-minute low-impact class should be a breeze – we thought… incorrectly. 

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For starters, the machine looks like something out of Frankenstein – it’s the size of a single bed, with many different straps, bars and fastenings across the entire surface. Although intimidating at first, the instructor constantly guided us via verbal cues so that our feet and hands were always properly placed to achieve the intended benefit.

There are also ‘intro’ classes that, although are less of a workout, provide a good base of how to use the machine so that you know what you’re doing for all future classes without wasting timing figuring out body part placement on the equipment. 

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As avid weightlifters, this workout intensely utilized muscles in ways we hadn’t expected. Through the use of constant muscle tension, the tiny stabilizer muscles – surrounding all the larger muscles that are usually the main focus of most workouts – were continuously working, and despite no jumping nor sprinting, we were dripping sweat by the end.

The focus is heavily core as your abs are working to stabilize in every movement, but the legs and arms portion of the class were also no joke. Is this the be-all and end-all workout to trump all others? No, but as a supplement to other workouts, it's a great alternative for a well-rounded athletic performance. 

The Details 

Now that we’ve bought our own workout package (out of our pocket money, we might add), if you also want to give The Megaformer Lab a go, here’s how to book a class or purchase a set of classes:

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All trial classes during the rest of soft opening are RMB99 for two classes. After March 6, the trial class price will increase to RMB149 for two classes. That also covers the special grip socks needed to work out on the machine, and at the end of the day, you keep the socks – so even if the workout isn’t for you, you can chalk it up as just an expensive pair of socks. 

If you want to go all in, you can purchase class packages (by number of classes or unlimited classes for a month, three months, six months, etc.) For example, a pack of 10 classes is RMB2,680 (RMB268/class) while a pack of 100 classes is RMB21,800 (RMB218/class). 

Unlimited packages run from RMB2,980 (RMB99/day) for one month to RMB26,800 for twelve months (RMB73/day). To book a trial class or purchase a class package, scan the QR code below which links directly to The Megaformer Lab WeChat Mini Program. 

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Follow The Megaformer Lab Official Wechat Account by scanning the QR code below. 

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See a listing for The Megaformer Lab. [All images provided by The Megaformer Lab]

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