Inside Meghan Markle's Favorite Pilates Class
Meghan Markle is sweating before the royal wedding -- and so is ET!
The former Suits star is still three months away from saying "I do" to Prince Harry at St. George's Chapel, but is already looking fit and fabulous before her special day thanks to her longtime love of yoga and Pilates.
Meghan has previously revealed that she swears by a specific method of Pilates, in which a Megaformer machine is used throughout an hour-long class for a total body workout. "[It's] hands down the best thing you could do for your body," the Los Angeles native once explained. "You keep coming back for several reasons."
"Your body changes immediately," she continued. "Give it two classes and you will see a difference."
Because we're obsessed with all things royals here at ET, we decided to give the bride-to-be's favorite fitness class a try. Here's what happened!
Who tried it? ET writers Desiree Murphy and Liz Calvario
Beginning of workout
"Alright. This looks intense, but we're here. We're doing this. We've got this!"
As soon as we walked into the studio, a trainer introduced us to the Megaformer machine, which looked just as intimidating as you'd expect. It has a sliding carriage with platforms, handlebars and straps at the top and bottom of the machine, along with bungee cords with springs that you take on and off to add or decrease resistance.
The class began right away with no downtime in between sets. It took us awhile to get used to the machine, especially when we were instructed to stand on it, hold our planks and move forward and back on the sliding carriage for four seconds in, four seconds out. This instantly made us aware of the muscles being worked that don't typically get attention in a regular workout. But we continued to push through!
"Oh s**t. This is really hard. I don't know how much more of this I can take before I collapse. Just realized we haven't had any rest. I need water! We have to be, like, 75% done already, right? RIGHT?!?!"
This is where the "Lagree shakes" began (more on that later), and boy did we shake! The total-body workout continued as we performed standing exercises on top of the machine, such as lunges, squats and side planks, that tested both our balance and endurance. The sweat started trickling down and, to be honest, we had to modify some of the movements when the pressure was too much and the shaking became too intense for us newbies. The halfway point of your workout is when you look at your friend for support and know that you're both stronger (or weaker!) than you know.
Last five minutes
"Hold it together. Please, please, please hold it together. The other people in this class will see you fail! Don't be a loser. Don't give up. If Meghan can do this, so can you!"
Just when we were finally starting to get the hang of the machine (despite the fact that our bodies were totally worn out at this point), the class was winding down and coming to an end. The last exercises were probably the toughest because one side of your body is giving out and you're just hoping for it all to be over. But before we knew it, class was complete and we could officially say, "We survived!"
Although we're two women who work out regularly (taking classes in Les Mills Bodypump, Nike Training Club, Pure Barre, ballet, yoga and more), we found our first Megaformer class to be extremely challenging. Immediately after leaving the studio, we were both feeling sore from top to bottom. Honestly, all we wanted post-workout was a hot bath, a glass of wine and a roast chicken.
Following the class, ET chatted with Pilates professional Francine Acevedo of Perfectly Pilates, who gave us the full breakdown on the Megaformer machine and explained the reason why so many people like Meghan are so obsessed with the Lagree Method, created by Sebastien Lagree.
ET: The Megaformer machine can be quite intimidating for someone who has never used it before. Can you explain how it works? And how is it different from a regular reformer?
Francine Acevedo: A lot of people say that these machines look like ancient torture machines, and I can't disagree! Ironically, they deliver the best feel-good workout of your life.
Generally speaking, the Megaformer is among the most challenging of all the forms of Pilates. The classes are usually a lot faster -- you're doing a lot more exercises than you would in a regular Pilates class, so you don't feel like you have to jump on the treadmill after class in order to get your cardio for the day.
The machine delivers a super-dose of Pilates, so the workouts are more intense. Unlike the Pilates Reformer, after using the Megaformer, clients are covered in sweat because there is that cardiovascular element added from the faster transitions between exercises.
The great thing about this machine is that it works nearly every muscle in your body! It is a complete body workout, stimulating muscles you didn't even know you had.
This type of workout is no joke! What do you think it is about the class that has clients coming back?
The cooldown eases you back into reality. Once you get off your machine and reflect back on the class, you feel accomplished because you’ve worked out at your highest potential in such a short amount of time. You leave satisfied because you know you’ve made it to the end of a grueling workout, yet you still feel so alive and energetic. Pilates has the ability to make you feel good, even when your muscles are depleted and exhausted. In expressing this sentiment, a lot of my clients tell me, "It hurts so good!" It's such an addicting feeling, which is why people crave it.
We hear fitness lovers like Meghan come to this type of class for the "Lagree shakes." Explain!
It's true! I just had a client tell me today, "We are not even halfway done with the class and I feel my body shaking already!" It happens when your muscles are contracting and relaxing with such intense focus, or when you are engaging your muscle in an isometric hold (i.e., the muscle is contracted but the joints are not moving) after having worked it already, that your body actually starts shaking a little bit. This is due to muscle fatigue and is normal when you are working out hard. The shaking should stop soon after you stop the exercise and the muscles return back to their normal state.
Megaformer clients like Meghan love their "Lagree shakes" because they make them feel like they are actually getting something out of the exercise in the moment that they are doing it. It is very satisfying, because you know that you are working and you know that your body is reacting favorably to the exercise. You can feel your muscles working and burning in the moment, and it feels amazing.
About how many calories would a person of Meghan's build burn during a Megaformer class?
Depending on the pace of the class and the client's experience, a person of Meghan's build can expect to burn around 500-700 calories. Once a person gains body awareness and confidence, he or she will know how to effectively engage his or her muscles in order to get the most efficient burn in the shortest amount of time possible.
The more you practice Pilates, not only the more confident and better you will feel, but the more calories you should be able to burn each class. This is why people who have been doing Pilates for years never get bored. There is always room for improvement, and whether it is your first class or 200th, it can be equally challenging.
Why do you think Meghan, a self-proclaimed yogi and Pilates lover, prefers this specific method over the others?
People love this method because it truly is a one-stop shop! It is the perfect workout, especially for busy people, because you get everything you need for the day, fitness-wise, in one class. You are getting cardio as well as toning through strength training and flexibility and agility through stretching. In just under an hour, you work nearly every muscle in your body, plus you calm your mind with all of the Pilates breathing you employ throughout the class.
The breathing gives you a peace that can’t help but permeate into your spirit. This method of Pilates also delivers a long and lean physique without bulk, better posture and a clear mind, which is what every princess needs.
What's extraordinary about this machine is that it really is perfect for every person. If Meghan wanted to bring Prince Harry to a class, for example, he would get just as good of a workout suited for his body as Meghan would get suited to hers.
Basically, it is the perfect workout for the royal in all of us!
Helen Mirren Says ‘Charming’ Meghan Markle Doesn’t Need Her Advice for Life as a Royal (Exclusive)
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Royal Wedding: A Look Back at Past Carriage Processions!
Royal Wedding Countdown: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Preparing for Romantic Trip to Scotland