…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
The instructor noticed my shocked and sweaty face and explained that the shaking indicated the activation of my slow twitch muscle fibers.
She casually remarked, “Get used to it.”
Despite being named the top workout on ClassPass last year and having an impressive list of celebrity fans such as Michelle Obama, Kim Kardashian, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Aniston, and the Duchess of Sussex, London hadn’t yet seen a licensed Lagree studio—until now.
Last month, entrepreneurs and fitness enthusiasts Mona Halawi and Nour Abu Hamdan launched MAD Lagree Studios on King’s Road in Chelsea, finally bringing Hollywood’s favorite workout to London.
Initially offering four classes a day, they quickly had to increase it to seven due to the overwhelming demand.
Abu Hamdan excitedly shared, “We have people coming from all over London, especially for the class.
Just this morning, one client traveled over an hour before starting work.”
Understanding Lagree: Not Just Pilates
Let’s clarify what Lagree is—it’s not pilates.
While it may involve a machine that looks somewhat similar, it operates on completely different training principles.
Founded by Sebastien Lagree in 1998, Lagree relies on the bodybuilding technique of time under tension, eliminating breaks during the workout and targeting various aspects of fitness, including balance, cardio, flexibility, core strength, endurance, and muscle building.
Abu Hamdan explains, “It’s essentially circuit training, but instead of moving from one station to another, you’re on one machine transitioning between movements.”
At first glance, a Lagree class appears to consist of standard workout exercises—planks, crunches, lunges, and donkey kicks—but there’s a twist.
Each movement must be performed as slowly as possible while overcoming resistance from the Megaformer.
Abu Hamdan elaborates, “By keeping your muscles under tension for longer periods, you engage your deep muscles, strengthening them.
You’re not only building strength, but also developing endurance in your muscles.”
This unique approach to whole-body sculpting, combined with the incorporation of approximately 600 muscles in many Lagree movements, explains why it claims to deliver a more intense burn than a F45 class (which I can confirm).
Despite the shaking and sweating that accompany this high-intensity workout, its low-impact nature has made it a popular alternative to HIIT (high-intensity interval training).
A Beautiful Workout Experience
Abu Hamdan’s introduction to Lagree was through one of her yoga students in Lebanon, although initially, she wasn’t interested.
She recalls, “At the time, I believed all you needed for a workout was your body and a mat, like a typical yogi.”
However, her persistent student eventually booked her a spot in a class, and she reluctantly attended.
Instantly, she was hooked.
Abu Hamdan explains, “I felt muscles in my body that I had never felt before.
It was a bit disorienting at first, even for someone in the fitness industry. But once I became more comfortable with the machine, I found the workout to be incredibly beautiful.
It’s similar to yoga because it forces you to be present and aware of your body.”
Connected through Halawi’s husband, who attended the same university as Abu Hamdan, the pair discovered their shared passion for fitness and began brainstorming the concept of MAD Lagree Studios.
Construction started back in February, and they officially opened their doors in May.
Halawi expresses their gratitude for the warm reception, saying, “We’re incredibly humbled by how welcoming people have been.
When we first opened, we didn’t even have a bar; we just had boxes piled up.
But our clients were understanding, saying, ‘We’ve been waiting for this to open.
As long as the workouts are good, we’re fine.’”
Now, with a stunning marble bar installed and the studio in full operation, there’s a sense that MAD Lagree Studios is about to soar to new heights.
Abu Hamdan confirms, “We’ve already converted many people. You can count me as one of their devoted fans.”
MAD Lagree Studios currently offers an introductory offer of three classes for £60, with a monthly fee of £340 for unlimited classes.
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