Studio Review: Studio Lagree

Friday morning I had the pleasure (although my inner thighs and obliques will tell you differently) of attending an M3 Fusion class at Studio Lagree.  Located at 435 Spadina Rd Toronto, Studio Lagree offers Pilates reformer style classes which are conducted on a custom designed “Megaformer” and as their website states is “the most innovative, aggressive and time efficient approach to full body conditioning”.

  The Studio

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I arrived to the studio which is more North on Spadina than I usually travel – up in Forest Hill – and found plenty of parking, both on the street and there is a “Green P” very close as well. The studio is well marked from street level and you enter by walking up some narrow stairs to the second floor. The stairwell (which has a sign at the top that states “Your legs may be more worn-out than you think…Please use handrail & watch your step” – eek!) opens into a very modern space of chrome and metallic red.  There are two change stalls available as well as washrooms and self locking lockers. I was told one washroom had a shower, but I didn’t check it out. The facility also offers a large lounge space to wait prior to class and a giant TV which shows a real of news clips featuring the “megaformer” and Lagree Fitness.  I suggest not arriving to early on your first class, because with a giant window into the gym you can see the fitness “torture” (the good kind) that you will soon be enduring. Although if you do, there is plenty of reading material from Hollywood celebs who in various magazines (displayed on the walls) confess their obsession with Lagree Fitness – check out my favourite by Courtney Cox circa 2005.

My Experience

The 50 minute class went by very quickly and as I eluded to above, I was very sore the next day (and dreading my 35km run – which I still did). Now I’m not sure if I’m getting lazy with my strength training, but I’m really loving these “reformer” “gravity” or “megaformer” style Pilates class. Being able to get a great “ouch inducing” workout while lying down is certainly lots of fun.

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Now, what is a “megaformer” you ask? As I tried to explain to my husband, it’s like a single bed. Where the ends of the bed are fixed and the middle part slides back and forth and is attached with springs to change the tension. Depending on the body parts to be worked, you place your feet on different parts of the fixed end and use your various muscles to slide back and forth. E.g., for a lunge, your front planted leg is on the fixed part of the “megaformer” and with selected tension your back leg slides out as you lower into the lunge and slides back in as you return to the starting position.

The class was a lot of fun and was definitely challenging. You work your muscles to the point of fatigue (lots of variations for different levels) then roll over and give another muscle group a go. As the website states, “Lagree Fitness is the unique fusion of strength, core, cardio/circuit training and stretching into an intense, shirt-drenching, 50-minute exercise experience” and it was. They provide towels around the room and during a quick change I hopped off to grab one. The pace is fairly quick between moves which doesn’t provide much time to stall and rest by grabbing a drink – so be sure to hydrate before you arrive.

The Cost

A great thing about your first class, is that it’s free! You can register online and they have MANY class options all day long from 6am to 10pm. The cost for the classes after your first is in the range of other Pilates reformer/gravity style classes but is certainly the most expensive when compared to other TO studios such as Misfit, Union, and Movemeant (single classes at Lagree are $35).

Conclusion

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So, while it certainly is “North” of my typical workout jurisdiction, I have found myself a few times now trying to figure out the shortest route from my work to the studio and vice versa.  I definitely suggest trying it out – especially with a couple of friends, so when your glutes are screaming and your face is so twisted from the (good) torture, you can look at someone you know and have a good laugh together. Also, by going with a friend, you’ll  have someone to whine with the next day when your inner thighs are killing – and then together you can head back for more! Because like “they”  say, “Summer bodies are built in the spring!” (and by “they” I mean one of my torture partners seen here in the back, Ky)

Studio Review: Sol Yoga Burlington

Katie McClelland and I post classLast week I had the pleasure of attending opening week festivities at Burlington’s newest hot yoga studio, Sol Yoga Burlington. Located in the Cedar Springs Health and Racquet club at 960 Cumberland Ave., Burlington, ON, Sol Yoga Burlington takes advantage of the many great service from Cedar Springs, including free parking, day lockers, and spacious change rooms, all while offering the high quality, soul filling services that members at De La Sol Hamilton have come to expect from owner Katie McClelland and her fiance Andre Grandbois.

post class studio viewSimilar to De La Sol Hamilton, Sol Yoga Burlington uses infrared heat, which like solar heat, heats solid objects rather than the air. Sol Yoga Burlington shares that this type of heat stimulates an anti-inflammatory response in the body that can improve arthritis and fibromyalgia, decrease pain of any kind and speed the healing of soft muscle tissue damage. The floor in the studio is made of cork which  is a naturally warm and non-slip surface eliminating entrapped dirt, germs or fungus (a must for me – can’t stand dirty/grimy studios!). Towels are provided for free from Cedar Springs, and mats can be rented for a small fee. Filtered water is available as long as you bring your own bottle.

Sol Yoga instructor Andre Grandbois and I before class

Sol Yoga Burlington offers a fusion style of yoga which draws on styles including Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Anusara and Iyengar Yoga and emphasize alignment, quality of breath and moving mindfully through the yoga sequences. I attended a beginner class lead by a recent De La Sol Teacher Training graduate Calyn Petitt. The class with filled with MANY beginner level students, many who I assume were members of the Cedar Springs and wanting to check out this new service. Calyn did an amazing job of catering to the various levels of the class and supported each student in their practice, while providing an excellent intro/mid-level sequence, with great safety cues, and cute antidotes along the way. Calyn’s skills as a yoga instructor speaks very highly to the high quality teacher training program offered by De La Sol.

A second floor studio with a viewPrices for classes are on par with other studios in the GTA (and can be purchased online), and the schedule although minimal now (only 20 classes a week), will without a doubt grow as news spreads of this wonderful studio just off of the South Service Road.

Studio Review: Movemeant

IMG_2595Last weekend (Saturday, Jan 5) I had the pleasure of attending two opening weekend classes at movemeant, Toronto’s newest Cycling, TRX, and Gravity studio. Opened by Queen st. w. lululemon alumni ambassador Matt Kenny, the studio blends the most current in boutique fitness trends with the lofty heritage building feel of Queen West (the studio is located at 777 Richmond Street West (Loft #2026); look for the giant metal doors).

Movemeant specializes in indoor cycling, TRX, Gravity, and ashtanga yoga, and all classes are lead by Matt. I had the pleasure of catching a 45min sweat inducing cycling class and sticking around for a glute shaking 30 minute TRX suspension training session.

IMG_2592For indoor cycling, Movemeant uses the Schwinn AC Sport bike which I can honestly say are the smoothest and quietest ride I’ve ever had.  These bikes are top of the line as they use a magnetic disc for resistance which drops closer to the flywheel with ever turn of the tension dial without ever touching, this is what keeps the ride so smooth. At some quiet points in the class you could actually hear the purring of the wheels – it was awesome! Matt taught as his usual amazing self. He blends a fusion of yoga and self-reflection concepts with cycling motivation and excitement- he has a very strong following within the Toronto fitness community. His tough love style – “if you’re not adding on tension, you might as well be sitting on the couch” – motivates his followers and challenges you to turn up that dial and leave it on the floor! With a great selection of music, clear directions and safety cues, and challenging profiles, it’s no wonder these classes were sold out within days.

One interesting feature to the cycling class is that you need to bring your own set of headphones to plug directly into the bike.  All music and the instructors microphone are played through your headphones which gives you  full control of the volume.  Many riders loved this idea. I found it slightly isolating, as I love to “wooo” when asked how I’m feeling. The headphones made it feel like I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) do that.

The true perk of the ride came afterwards when Matt  passed out cold facecloths  that had been soaked in eucalyptus and bergamot – a wonderful treat after a very sweaty ride

IMG_2593Later I attended a TRX class. I’m very familiar with the TRX program and enjoyed the challenge that Matt offered. In classes at other studios I often found that variety in skills was lacking and that the class was tailored to more general fitness levels.  Matt was able to differentiate the class for all levels and with only 6 suspension straps each participant can get the attention (and challenge) they need.

The studio is small, but very stylish. They do not have “change rooms” but do offer change stalls (note: they do not have showers). They do offer plenty of storage space for your belonging during class (no lockers, but lots of racks and cubbies). For a small fee you can rent clip shoes for cycling as well as hand towels. Matt has done a great job of maximizing space, and creating a fun and welcoming atmosphere that is guaranteed to kick your butt!

Movemeant offers nearly 30 classes a week on evenings and weekend. With rates that are comparable to other local studios. With drop-in and multi-class packages, you’ll definitely be able to find something that meets your needs, so be sure to check them out!