I tried Meghan Markle’s Pilates workout — and now I feel like a queen

a photo of a woman doing pilates and a photo of Meghan Markle
(Image credit: Getty/kali9/Samir Hussein / Contributor)

I’ve been a Pilates fanatic for years, but there was one method I hadn’t yet tried — Megaformer. It’s said to have a huge Hollywood following, with Meghan Markle, Chrissy Teigen and Jennifer Aniston all swearing by it. The classes take place on the Megaformer machine, which was the brainchild of Sebastien Lagree.

Markle’s long-term friend Heather Dorak owns a Megaformer Pilates studio, named Pilates Platinum, and speaking about megaformer Pilates, the Duchess of Sussex previously said, “it’s hands down the best thing you could do for your body.”

But what is the workout and how is it different from reformer Pilates? To find out more, I head to my first Megaformer class. Read on to find out what happened. 

What is a Megaformer?  

A Megaformer fitness machine looks similar to the kind of Pilates bed you’d use for reformer Pilates, with a moving platform and springs for resistance. The Megaformer will look slightly different to a traditional reformer Pilates bed, however — there are more springs, and the machine itself has a broader range of uses. 

There’s a key difference between the two forms of Pilates though. Where a reformer Pilates class will focus on isolating different muscles, with regular breaks, a Megafromer workout will requiring you to use different muscle groups simultaneously with little or no rest time between exercises. 

In laymans terms, Lagree is more intense than reformer Pilates. Sebastian Lagree, a Pilates instructor who developed the method in 1998, fused elements of Pilates with bodybuilding when he realized his clients wanted faster results. It’s higher intensity, but low impact, and has elements of strength training and cardio as well as the Pilates exercises you’ll recognize from your reformer class. 

I tried my first Megaformer class — here’s what happened 

I’ll admit, I walked into my first Studio Lagree class a little smug. I’ve practiced reformer Pilates for years. Heck, I’ve even been on a week-long Pilates retreat in Thailand, how hard could this be? Grippy socks at the ready, I entered the studio. 

The first thing I noticed was how different the Megaformer looked to the normal reformer I was used to using — it was wider, there were more strings, and the platform seemed to be divided into sections. My instructor talked me through the different positions on the carriage, and I soon realized that things would be different here. 

About 20 seconds into the class, my suspicions were confirmed — this was tough. As I moved from a plank to a pike for what felt like forever, my heart rate was elevated, and I was huffing and puffing far harder than I would in a traditional reformer Pilates class. In fact, for the remaining 49 minutes and 40 seconds, I worked hard. There were zero rest periods, and by the end of the class, and for the next few days, my core burned. 

Compared to a traditional reformer Pilates class, I spent next to no time lying on my back (I can’t be the only one who spends longer finding my shoulder straps for an extra break). The class was packed with moving squats and lunges, and used a higher resistance than I was used to. It felt more like a strength session in the gym, than a chilled Pilates class on my lunch break. 

The workout is designed to work your muscles to failure, so most Megaformer Pilates studios recommend taking a few days between classes to ensure your muscles have had time to recover. Someone told me Megaformer was Pilates on steroids, and they weren’t wrong. I’ll definitely be back, but hats off to you Megs, it’s definitely a workout. 

Looking for more Pilates inspiration? Here’s 8 Pilates exercises that will target your core for the ultimate burn, plus read what happened when I tried the blogilates weightless arm workout. I also tried the classic Pilates toe taps, in fact I did 100 toe taps a day for a week and here's what happened.

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.