Meghan Markle Says The Megaformer Changed Her Body In Just 2 Classes

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Meghan Markle swears this machine (popping up in studios across the U.S.) changed her body in just two classes.

Never heard of a Megaformer? It’s similar to a Pilates reformer—but it comes with extra bells and whistles that promise to get you toned AF (like, say, the Duchess herself), all while keeping impact at a minimum.

A Megaformer Is A Pilates Reformer, But On Steroids

Both Megaformers and classic Pilates reformers are long contraptions made up of two stable platforms (one on the front, one on the back) and a gliding carriage in the middle—but that’s where the similarities between the two machines end. For starters, the reformer is meant to challenge the body while performing Pilates. But the Megaformer was designed by trainer and CEO of Lagree Fitness, Sebastien Legree, with the goal of merging Pilates with cardio, but in a low-impact way.

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The end product: a machine that’s much larger than a classic reformer, with more straps, springs, and platforms, says Carrie Macy Samper, national Pilates training manager at Equinox.

On a Megaformer, the carriage is spring-loaded with resistance that ranges from zero to about 250 pounds. “We have variable tension, so we’re able to hit glutes, hamstrings, abs, obliques, and other muscles with both heavy and light resistance,” explains Emily Walsh, an instructor at SLT in Boston. Cables on Megaformers also allow people to perform upper body work (like triceps kickbacks) throughout class.

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Megaformers Will Kick Your Abs’ Ass

While working out on a Megaformer might not be Pilates, it does call for lots of abs work. “Because you always have some part of your body on the carriage, which is on wheels and in motion, you always have to stabilize your core,” says Jody Merrill, trainer and founder of Boston-based btone FITNESS.

In addition to carving a strong core, Megaformer workouts can improve flexibility, endurance, and strength, says Michele Olson, Ph.D., a professor of sport science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL.

The machine trains bigger muscle groups (think: quads, abs, glutes), and it also works a bunch of little stabilizing muscles, says Walsh.

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Real Talk: This Is Probably The Hardest Workout You’ve Ever Done

Megaformer classes can be pricey (in the neighborhood of $25+), so you’ll probably want to know what you’re in for before you splurge on one: The workouts are typically 45 minutes to an hour long and combine cardio, strength training, and Pilates. Instructors guide you through moves, which often target, specific body parts one at a time (for that burns so good feeling).

“When combined, this creates a super-safe, effective, full-body workout,” says Walsh.

You’ll do familiar moves like standing lunges, squats, pushups, and planks. But since you do the workout on the Megaformer’s moving carriage, you’ll get an extra balance challenge.

You’ll likely be sore the next day, too. The good news? “You will get stronger, leaner, and start to feel and see muscles you never knew existed,” says Merrill. “Many clients often talk about how the workout helps them to run faster, lift heavier, or play with more ease with their kids.”

If you’re brand new, start with an introductory class if it’s available (and tell the instructor it’s your first time so they can keep a close eye on your form and suggest modifications as needed). Be patient, too. It’s not uncommon for people to say the class is the hardest they’ve ever taken the first time around—and it can take between three and five classes (or more) to start to feel stronger in the movements, says Walsh.

Once you feel comfortable, try to hit up your favorite studio a few times a week for the best results. “We do not recommend coming every day and suggest starting out slowly,” says Merrill. “You want to make sure your body has had enough time to repair the muscles so that you can give it your all at your next class.”

How to Master The Megaformer

Meet it: The Megaformer has a stable platform on each end with a sliding carriage in between, which can be spring-loaded with 0 to 180 pounds of resistance. You’ll also find handlebars and cable pulleys for your hands and feet.

Understand it: The gliding carriage makes low-impact exercises (think lots of lunge and plank variations) instantly more challenging by adding instability and extra resistance. You’ll fire up tons of tiny muscles in the process.

Try it: Arrive early and ask for a demo, says Amanda Freeman, founder of Megaformer studio SLT, to get up to speed on the machine’s parts. During class, you’ll be told where to put your hands and feet (lines on the carriage are markers) and how many springs to use.

Perfect it: Your abs power you through the exercises, says Freeman, so make sure they’re always engaged—before every instruction, think, core first. (Eventually, recruiting those muscles will be second nature.) Be mindful of your knees and elbows too; never lock them out, as that puts strain on joints. Having a hard time following the moves? Next time, ask the front desk to point out a regular, then peek at her if you get lost. It takes about four classes to try most of the moves, so go easy on yourself if you feel overwhelmed at first.

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