What Is the Megaformer?

Smiling woman using the Megaformer pilates machine

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To beginners and newcomers, the Megaformer machine may appear intimidating and complicated to use. With handlebars, resistance bands, a sliding carriage, and more, there is a lot to learn about this piece of exercise equipment.

Since the Megaformer is unlike other workout machines, it is important for your safety to understand how it works and how to use proper form to prevent injury. When utilized correctly, you can use the Megaformer to challenge the full body.

The best way to learn how to use the Megaformer is to visit a studio for a private lesson or group class. Once you get the hang of it, you will be hooked to Megaformer workouts for their ability to include cardio, strength, and flexibility all in one workout. Whether your fitness goal is to lose weight, build muscle, or maintain your physique, Megaformer classes offer something for everyone.

What Is the Megaformer?

The Megaformer is an exercise machine often used in pilates workouts that ascribe to the Lagree Fitness Method. Developed by Sebastien Lagree, a personal trainer who wanted to merge pilates with strength training, the Megaformer was engineered in 2005. Since then, it has been used in hundreds of fitness studios in the U.S.

How It Works

There are different models of the Megaformer, but all of them share similar components. The bulk of the Megaformer consists of the platform and the carriage. The platform is stationary and can be used to sit, kneel, or stand on. The carriage is another platform to utilize, though it rolls back and forth.

Springs are used to add resistance to the workouts. They are placed underneath the carriage and can be customized to add intensity. This adds resistance to the carriage. For even more resistance, bands are available on the ends or sides of the machine. On either end of the Megaformer, there are stationary handlebars that can be used for support.

The Lagree Fitness Method

According to Lagree, physical fitness consists of five elements: cardio, strength, endurance, body composition, and flexibility. Using the Megaformer, Lagree designed workout routines that encompass all these elements in under an hour.

Though the machine is often associated with traditional pilates and Reformer pilates workouts, Lagree insists that his machine and method are much different. He found that high-impact strength training could wear down the joints while pilates lacked cardio and sculpting benefits. Merging the two, his proprietary machine and the corresponding method are high-intensity but low-impact.

What makes the Megaformer unique is the emphasis on time under tension. Rather than move quickly through repetitions of exercises, the Lagree Fitness Method recommends slow and controlled movements. It is all about quality over quantity.

Megaformer vs. Reformer

The Megaformer is often confused with and compared to the pilates Reformer machine. Lagree’s Megaformer was initially inspired by the Reformer machine, but he improved upon its weakness.

One of the main differences between these machines is that you can stand on the Megaformer. During a Reformer pilates class, people spend most of their time on their backs. Lagree improved the century-old design of the Reformer so people could sit or stand upright on the machine. In doing so, the Megaformer allows for a more intense workout.

Reformer pilates is a challenging workout, but it is beginner-friendly. Consider trying a beginner’s Reformer class as a stepping stone to the Megaformer.

Benefits

Megaformer workouts are among the fastest-growing fitness trends. Since the machine is low-impact yet high-intensity and combines strength, flexibility, and endurance in one workout, it is clear to see why. Even celebrities are crediting this type of exercise for its ability to quickly sculpt and tone the body.

Total Body Workout

If your current workout routine includes strength training, you may be accustomed to dividing exercises based on the muscle groups they target. Instead of having upper body days and lower body days, a standard Megaformer class works the entire body. Full-body workouts may be a time-efficient option for people with busy schedules.

Build Muscle

The springs in the Megaformer increase the resistance of exercises, therefore increasing tension in the muscles. Holding these exercises for a minimum of 60 seconds stimulates the muscle fibers. The resistance also allows the muscles to contract. Stimulating the muscles in these ways allows you to build muscle over time. 

Engage the Core

Like pilates, the Megaformer challenges the core throughout the entirety of the workout. The machine can be used to target the abdominal muscles, but exercises that target other parts of the body still engage the core. Without realizing it, you will leave a Megaformer class with sore abs. If you want a strong core, consider trying the Megaformer.

Increase Oxygen Capacity of the Muscles

One of the main selling points of the Megaformer is its science-backed benefits related to increased oxygen in the muscles. This allows the body to burn more energy for longer periods of time. For hours, and potentially days, after a class, your body continues to burn fat. 

Low-Impact

Many people want to reap the benefits of high-impact exercise without the actual impact on their joints and overall body. One way to do this is with the Megaformer. Since the movements are slow and controlled, the workouts are considered low-impact. However, you will still work up a sweat, increase your stamina and endurance, and burn fat. 

Safety

When using any piece of exercise equipment, including the Megaformer machine, it is important to use proper form and adhere to safety precautions. Here are some safety tips to prevent injury:

  • Wear grip socks, also known as yoga socks or pilates socks, at all times. This is to prevent you from slipping off the machine. If needed, wear grip gloves, too.
  • Follow the fitness instructor’s directions. They will demonstrate the proper form of exercises and, if needed, correct your form to prevent strain.
  • Increase resistance gradually. Start with a lower resistance and add more as you build strength.
  • Do not repeat exercises quickly and abruptly. Over-exerting yourself can increase the chances of strain or injury as the exercises are designed to be performed slowly and with control.
  • If an exercise is too challenging, ask your instructor for a modification. 
  • Attend Megaformer classes 2-4 times per week to build your strength and endurance.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional prior to attending class if you are pregnant or recently had surgery.

How to Learn Megaformer Exercises

The best way to learn how to perform exercises on the Megaformer machine is with a private instructor or through group fitness classes. There are more than 400 fitness studios nationwide that offer Megaformer lessons.

If you are a beginner, you may benefit from learning the basics of pilates prior to advancing to the Lagree Fitness Method. You can also consider Reformer pilates classes or at-home pilates workouts to begin with.

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