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Lagree Fitness at Studio Lagree

Journey to Lagree

I am a big fan of the TV show Suits. So much so, my daily ritual included listening to music playlists on YouTube from the first two seasons. Yep, that kind of dedicated fan. This past summer, I watched a Shape Magazine interview with Meghan Markle, who plays Rachel, the paralegal on Suits. If you’ve seen the show, you can’t help but adore Rachel. I’m envious of her stylish wardrobe and all those pencil skirts she looks absolutely stunning in. Naturally, I was wondering what she did to stay fit. She runs, does Tracy Anderson workouts and yoga but when she’s in LA, she goes to Pilates Platinum. When I searched for Pilates Platinum online, I learned that it utilizes the Megaformer, a machine designed by Sebastien Lagree.

When Lagree designed the megaformer he took the reformer from pilates and changed it up so 1000’s of exercises can be performed on it. He wanted to help people make the most out of their time so they could achieve more in 40-50 minutes without having to do separate workouts for cardio, strength training, and body conditioning. There is no need to have any pilates experience and is accommodating for different levels of fitness. It is very low impact so it’s good if you have any joint pains. It sounded good to me!

After reading about the Megaformer and testimonials, I searched for Megaformer classes in Toronto and found Studio LagreeWoohoo!!  I read reviews of the Lagree workout and decided to take the summer to revisit Mat Pilates before I tried out the Megaformer, even though it wasn’t a pre-requisite, I wasn’t ready yet to take the plunge. Prior to this, I had taken Pilates on a drop-in basis for 2 years in my early 20’s. Yep, I’m at the age where I can say that now.

I spent most of the summer doing independent workouts at the gym using free weights and body weight exercises and mixing it up yoga and mat pilates classes. I enjoyed the variety at first but knew I wanted something more challenging and structured.

My First Class at Studio Lagree

In the last week of August, after a Saturday where I did 2 pilates classes back to back (2 hours), I wasn’t feeling satisfied with how I spent that time and I decided I needed to just try Lagree.  So, I signed up for a first timer’s special – a one week unlimited class pass and went to four classes that week.

I took this picture before my first class at Lagree. Those machines were definitely intimidating to me from afar.

I took this picture before my first class at Lagree. Those machines were definitely intimidating to me from afar.

I was nervous about being on a machine. When I’m at the gym, I don’t gravitate towards machines at all (cardio included). I prefer body weight exercises and props AND if possible an instructor. I’m also afraid of heights and one of my fears, was of losing my balance and falling off the machine, or feeling like the machine is really far away from the ground. Luckily, when I got on the machine and got to stand next to one, this fear quickly went away. I’m not THAT high off the ground. *phew* So, if I do fall, it won’t be that far. HA!

I went to my first class on my own. I got to the studio early, purchased some toe socks, which felt weird (it’s the fabric BETWEEN my toes thing) but so did my Five Fingers toe shoes when I first put them on. Once you start exercising though, you don’t notice them at all.

My first pair of Half Toe Bella Toe Tox.

My first pair of Half Toe Bella Toe Tox.

I got to chatting with the gentlemen at the front desk when I was signing into class. He told me about how he use to be a former football player and has lost 65lbs since February. His face lit up as he was talking about the workout and how it achieves long lean muscles. He reminded me that everyone was really friendly there so to not hesitate at all about asking questions. I couldn’t help but smile and nod. I later learned the gentlemen I spoke with, Carm, was also one of the owners of the club.

My first class started off with plank to pike which totally set the stage for the intense workout ahead.  The instructor reminded us to go slowly with each move taking four seconds to go out and four seconds to go in and reminding us when to breathe in and out. This was very helpful & important because I often get that mixed up.

I liked that the class had a variety of moves that we would only do for about 30 secs or so. It sounds like a very short amount of time but it feels painfully longer when you are moving slowly.  I was very focused throughout and didn’t take many breaks because I didn’t want to miss out on anything.

When we were working on our inner thigh muscles, my glutes started to shake uncontrollably. I don’t believe this has ever happened to me in any other class, where I can’t actually control the shaking. This was hilarious, I couldn’t help but look at my reflection. In my sister’s first class with me, she noticed my shaking and said “you had stripper butt”. Bahaha!

I was completely drenched after my first class. It felt sort of neat to be as sweaty as in a hot yoga class but without a heated room. I felt sore after my first class and every day that first week but really happy. I could feel muscles in my glutes I hadn’t ever felt before. The class lived up to my expectations and I thought “YESSS, this is it! This was what I was looking for.”

Post First Class at Lagree. Notice how drenched my shirt is.

After my first Class at Lagree. Sweaty Mess. Happy.

Lagree is my Zen Space

I’ve been going to Studio Lagree about 2-3 times a week (other than a few weeks due to set backs – colds/schedule conflicts/injuries) since that very first class. When I rave to my friends about it, I usually say “It feels like I’m slowly tearing myself a new body from the inside out.. and that’s a good thing”. Basically, I might not see the physical changes on the outside right away but the inside, I can feel that there’s changes happening. 🙂

After my intial weeks at Studio Lagree I found my sleep to be more restful, I’d wake up with more energy and my abdominal muscles, obliques, inner thigh and glute muscles were sore unlike any other exercise I’ve ever done.  I’ve lost some pounds, gotten some compliments from others about me leaning out. But like most things, I know I would see more physical changes if I was more consistent about my diet + my fitness regimen. Since starting Lagree, I haven’t been to any mat pilates classes or to the gym to do independent workouts, my schedule’s been more hectic than ever. So, it’s saved me time! I enjoy the variety in classes, that regardless of how often I go during the week, no two classes are the same and I feel challenged throughout class.

Every class is different and the weights can be adjusted based on your preference (more or less resistance) depending on if you are facing the front or the back of the machine (moving with the weight vs pulling the weight). The instructors I’ve had have all been great. They’ve been consistent about reminding us about correct form, keeping us focused and letting us know how to modify an exercise. Most of my classes have been with Leila, who’s encouraging, funny, friendly and always finding ways to keep us feeling challenged.

I’ve been going to Lagree a bit over 6 months now. I get pretty bummed when I can’t make it to class. Lagree is my zen space. When I go there, I feel like I leave everything behind and when I come out, I have more clarity. My mind rarely wanders in class. When you’re executing plank, spider, teasers, bear, newspaper, catfish, mermaid and the like, all you can do is focus on stabilizing your core and trying to maintain good form as you move slowly. I usually leave feeling refreshed and calm, ready to tackle my day. 🙂

Are you interested in trying Lagree? If you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? What’s your current favourite way to exercise? What do you look for in a exercise class? Let’s chat it up.



Thoughts About The BCBD Transformation Retreat

My last post talked about The BCBD Transformation Retreat. After coming back and reflecting on my experience, I had more to share that didn’t quite fit into the last post.

Beach: where some of our runs too place.

While away on the retreat, I remember I was surprised at how well we all got along and how friendly people were. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to just find any reason to stay there forever. I daydreamed about how all we needed to do was pool our resources, find investors, and perhaps, create THE ULTIMATE LIFE TRANSFORMATION RETREAT. And somehow, we’d be able to just continue living as we were and make a living out of it… It sounds amazing in theory right? Yeah… Can you blame me though? Check out my snapshots.

Counter-clockwise from top left: My Pinada (non-alcoholic Pina Colada). A coconut cracked open. Next, these lovely palms lined the pathway from Tulum Resort to the Hacienda (The Market). Final shot is of my vision board/coaching binder.

Counter clockwise from top left: Tulum Resort where our workouts took place. Writing our intentions on the first night. Beautiful flower display in the lobby of Tulum. The swimming pool by our villas where yoga/meditation and lounging took place.

Counter-clockwise from top left: I loved these amazing big leafy green plants b/c they remind me of Swiss Chard (yes, I’m a dork). This lizard was so cute, I tried to snap a shot of it from the side, and when I did, it quickly turned it’s head. This picture of me by the pool in Tulum Resort. It was a lovely warm sunny day and one of my favourite photos. This Hibiscus flower was right outside of our boot camp room. Lovely!

Souvenirs Galore!

The end of the trip really sunk in when we parted ways at the airport and I got into a cab. That’s when I felt really sad. I felt like I had just broken up with 15 girls. We weren’t going to sit down to dinner tonight or get up early for yoga and meditation. I wasn’t going to see them as much anymore and without as much ease. It was going to take more effort and planning. This was a very unsettling feeling. I wasn’t use to missing people and feeling lonely as I’m usually quite content with being on my own.

Ladies on the move

Waiting for Coconut Water

The day after coming back to work, I was still in happy spirits but sad to be back. I was surprised when I walked into work and my co-workers said “I glowed and looked slim”. I thought to myself “really??”, remembering the visualization I had of myself glowing. A co-worker who didn’t know I had gone away walked by me and said “You look really happy, did something happen?” When another co-worker filled her in she said “Oh, vacation? yeah, that explains it!”

When a co-worker looked at the below photo. She asked “So did you have fun with your fitness team in Mexico?” I laughed because I wasn’t use to being associated with any kind of team because I don’t play sports. So I said, “No, we’re not a team, but I guess it feels like it”. It felt like we started off as individuals and came back as a team.

The Official BCBD Transformation Retreat Mantra: Sweat it out

We might’ve started our trip as classmates that regularly exercised together (some of us for a few years now) but when we went on this trip, it really gave us an opportunity to get to know one another. When you spend this much time together, you can’t help but get closer. It also made me realize how special this is.

Beyond building friendships, this trip was exactly what I needed.  I wanted a break from my routine, to slow down and enjoy my meals (I think I should get the slowest eater award… LOL!!), to narrow down a few key things I need to work on and to have fun exercising. Yes, all that in 7 days. 🙂

A friend was talking to me last week about what she thinks of me and my BCBD habit. She said something along the lines of ”Julie, some people go to the gym only to exercise and that’s it. You have a positive attitude about it and it sounds like what you have here is more than just exercise and it’s very special”. I agree. 🙂

Hydrating With Coconut Water

Eva has said in class many times that she hopes to empower us so that what we learn in class we can take with us outside of the classroom. And when I was on the trip, I saw in a different light (literally outside the confines of our class, and our regular routines) just how powerful a group is. We push ourselves harder. We encourage one another. We support one another. We share ourselves with one another. Sounds a lot like a family right? 🙂

My two favourite quotes from our BCBD Transformation Retreat. Eva always makes a point of reminding us of these in moments when we need to hear it the most – when the burn of holding a position, or repetition is driving us crazy.

BCBD Quote

One of my intentions for one of the days on the trip was “Feel the pain and let it pass”. Pain is inevitable. When you accept that it is temporary, it might make it easier for you to hold on when things get tough, knowing that things do get better. When it comes, acknowledge it and then let it go.  :)

BCBD Quote

When you want to give up, remember that you are often the only one that is stopping you from achieving your goal. The boundaries you are putting up aren’t real. Often, we give up right when things are starting to feel challenging. We don’t hold on long enough to reap the rewards that are around the corner.

I am working on keeping both of these in mind during challenging moments especially in BCBD class. As with most wisdom shared by Eva, these can be applied to other areas in your life too.

Have I completely won you over by my BCBD Transformation Retreat experience? 🙂  I am so excited for the next one!

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.


The BCBD Transformation Retreat

On March 1 – March 8, 2012, I went to the Mayan Riviera on the first BCBD Transformation Retreat. This marked the 5th anniversary of BCBD. The months and days leading up to this were pretty intense. There was my lower back sprain about six weeks before the trip which I iced and stretched as often as I could. Then three weeks before the trip, my ankle sprain. I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to go. Luckily, it was no biggie compared to the back.  Same drill as the back, just ice and stretch. During this whole time, I was also studying for an exam. It was one week before the trip and once it was done, my free time was dedicated to getting last minute things for the trip.

As you can see, the trip was my prize at the end of it all. I slept about 1.5 hours before leaving for the airport. That’s insane! I am cranky with less than 6, so I was pushing it. I was super pumped and nervous that this was it. The trip I was waiting for was finally here.  I wasn’t even cranky.


Some of my thoughts included: Would we all get along? Would there be conflicts? how will my bowels react to the change in atmosphere and food? Will I get diarrhea? Will I get a sun burn? I’m all about preparation. Hope for the best, anticipate the worst and prepare!

It was WAYYY better than I imagined. We MORE than got along. We spent every waking moment together. And not because we had to, but because we WANTED to. Even with the free time we had everyday, we usually spent it in a few small groups or all together.

Strolling on the beach with our sexy & practical RUME bags, sporting our Official BCBD Sweat it Out T-Shirts.

Our meals were for the most part fabulous. I loved having guacamole and grilled fish (mostly grouper) every chance I got. The egg station was awesome and I had omellette’s quite often. Here are some of the meals and tropical juices I had. Boy, do I miss these meals.

Retreat meals

Drinks and Meals

We did yoga and meditation upon rising, beach boot camps, self development sessions and running in the late afternoon. My initial intentions when I signed up for this was mainly to exercise while away on vacation. Who says we have to choose between vacationing and exercising right? And as always, Eva did not disappoint.

Our morning meditations were a welcome change. I had good days where visualizations were very clear and vivid. My favourite one was when I saw myself and noticed “My hair was wavy, my skin glowed and I looked very healthy”. It made me feel pretty good knowing that I am pretty close to the ideal version of myself that I was seeing. I was surprised because normally I struggle with being able to see myself and focus in meditations. It was really lovely to do this outside feeling the morning breeze on our faces and bodies while hearing the birds singing.

Morning Yoga

Our morning yoga sessions were such a wonderful and gentle way to start our exercise for the day.  Erin and Lisa helped wake up my body and stretch out all those sore and tight muscles. It was my first time being taught yoga by both of these talented ladies and they had their own unique style. It was exciting to see them in a different light as yoga instructors instead of my classmates and they were fabulous. It felt like they had been doing it for years.

Our boot camps were out of this world. I wanted a good butt kicking and Eva delivered. Naturally, I was nervous. Everyday was a new kind of challenge. I LOVED the surprise element and never knowing what the next exercise was. The day of the 100’s will be burned into my mind forever.  I remember when she first said 100 reps, I thought she was kidding so I chuckled. Then when I realized she wasn’t kidding, I was scared but gave it my all. My favourite 100 reps was for the abs. The most challenging was the pushups.

Beach Boot Camp

Our coaching sessions was where we got to know more about each other by digging deep below the surface and answering questions about ourselves that maybe we’d rather choose to avoid or didn’t realize we were avoiding. The most memorable was our first session.  It was a very eye opening experience. What people were sharing made me realize, just how much we have in common, how human we all are, and how isolated we can feel in our own thoughts. Everyday, I was very moved by the honesty and the support that we gave one another.  It was truly a life changing (transformation) kind of an experience.

Our afternoon runs were a great way to finish the physical activities for the day. I got a chance to chat and run/walk with people. It was a fun way to socialize and exercise.  It was also really exciting to see non-runners finish a run with their faces beaming. They went from thinking they probably weren’t going to run to running the entire time and having a blast. Amazing!

Our evenings were a nice way to unwind. It was really fun to get dolled up and connect over meals together. Look how happy we all were!

BCBD Second Dinner

BCBD Final Dinner

I can’t wait for the next BCBD Transformation Retreat. In the mean time, I am still LOVING my bi-weekly doses of BCBD classes. Have you ever been on a fitness retreat?  What was your experience like?