Image Source: Getty / Alberto E. Roriguez
When it comes to my workouts, I'm a creature of habit. I generally like doing the same things, at the same time, in the same places. Unfortunately, as many fitness fiends know, our bodies don't respond well to such routine. From time to time, when I want to give my muscles the confusion they deserve, I'll throw a SoulCycle class, a HIIT workout, or a low-intensity jog into the mix with my usual run or gym session.
I should mention I'm not usually one to follow in the footsteps of celebrity workouts (fads and quick fixes aren't my thing), but one recently caught my eye, and it was quite royal. Meghan Markle's regimen was particularly intriguing, especially for a future highness in the making. We already knew the former Suits actress is into the Megaformer workout — a super intense form of Pilates done on a stationary machine. (If you're familiar with Pilates, the machine is sort of like a Pilates Reformer, only more intricate.) As expected, Meghan has been bouncing around fitness studios to get ready to walk down the aisle to Prince Harry in May, and the Megaformer is one of the crucial workouts in her weekly plan.
I, as well as countless other women who have done the workout, claim to start seeing results right away — whether in your toned arms, your sculpted abs, or similar.
I decided to give the class a go — not because I, too, am trying to get wedding ready, but because have you seen Meghan's incredible figure?! I knew hardly anything prior to signing up for a Megaformer workout. A "stationary" fitness class didn't sound quite like my thing, and if I was being honest, I wasn't prepared for the intensity and difficulty. I attended SLT's studio — that is, Strength, Lengthen, Tone — in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "If cardio, strength training, and Pilates had a baby it would be SLT," the website's description reads.
The workout was developed back in 2005 by fitness guru Sebastien Lagree, who wanted to create a program that had the effects of high-intensity programs without "destroying" your body as these workouts often do. The machine and workout were specifically designed to do just that — to give your body the resistance and the slow, impactful moves you can't get from other fitness regimens. Plus, the workout targets just your slow-twitch muscle fibres that help burn fat rather than bulk up your bod.
Before my class began, I got a quick rundown of the machine — every strap and pulley that promised to tone even the most hard-to-hit parts of my body. I was intimidated, to say the least, but if Meghan could do it, why couldn't I? Within 30 seconds of the class starting, I understood why the actress (and so many others) relied on the Megaformer to keep her in shape. Every preconceived notion I had about low-impact workouts went out the window immediately. The second we began moving, my arms quivered. Every movement — whether it was a plank, a lunge, or a mountain climber — felt 10 times more intense on the Megaformer than ever before. I was used to doing similar moves on my own in the gym, yet it felt as though I was new to working out altogether.
The class moved quickly, and there was no time to waste. Once I was in a position (say, Donkey Kicks), the instructor was quickly adjusting my form and prepping us for the next move. I'm not going to sugarcoat it – it was a lot to keep up with. Not just physically, but mentally. I was often a little confused about the lingo about which strap to use, where exactly to place my feet, or just focusing on the details while my body was trying to hold an intense position. That's why instructors urge clients to come back quickly after their first-ever class, so I'm sure I'd get the hang of it after a second go-around.
When the 50-minute mark hit, I could hardly believe how quickly it went. I was also rather surprised how little I had sweated, considering how hard I felt the class was. Throughout the class, I checked my fitness watch (I wear a Fitbit Charge 2) a few times to see where I was heart rate and calorie wise. I'm used to seeing my heart rate skyrocket and my body torching calories in an intense gym session, but this wasn't the case.
Image Source: Nichole Fratangelo
That's not to say the class didn't give me the results I wanted; they were just different than I'd expected. The following day, I was more sore than I've ever been from a workout. My triceps throbbed and my butt ached in that "hurt so good" kind of way. The soreness lasted about three to four more days, which is the true mark of a good sweat sesh.
I've already recommended the class to a few friends who I know are looking for a new way to spice up their routines. I do, of course, add the disclaimer of just how much pain they'll be in the following days. I also add that I, as well as countless other women who have done the workout, claim to start seeing results right away — whether in your toned arms, your sculpted abs, or similar. That just goes to show this might be a workout you only need to do a few times a week, leaving more time for everything else going on in our lives.
Hopefully, Meghan doesn't hit the Megaformer the day before her wedding, or else she literally might not be able to walk down the aisle.