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(upbeat gentle music) Here we are. It’s been deemed the ultimate discussion, and I can’t wait to introduce my guest today. But this is a conversation that I jumped in on and am trying to facilitate so that we can keep going because my guest today on The Pilates Report are Sebastian Lagree and Maria Leone. I’m so grateful that they’re here. Sebastian is the inventor visionary of Lagree Fitness.
He holds over a hundred patents, I hear. And taking the world, and certainly ClassPass by storm. And Maria Leone, who has been teaching Pilates for 30 years, owned her own studio, Body Line Pilates, in Beverly Hills. She is also here with us. And what’s so cool about today is, I mean, let’s call a spade a spade.
People are like, “Is this Pilates? Is this not Pilates?” Right? (laughs) And Lagree Fitness, you know, for some Pilates people goes one way, and Pilates goes the other way for those who are partaking in Lagree Fitness. So what I want to say, first of all, for all of you that are joining me on this conversation, please leave your comments in the chat and I’ll do my best to get them to answer them. I am facilitating this conversation. I feel like it’s very important and I did see that it was already started.
So let me just first welcome Maria and Sebastian. Thank you for being here. Thank you. Thanks for having us. Okay, so I’m just gonna go straight to the chase ’cause there was this video, Sebastian, that you did, Pilates versus, okay.
And I can’t tell you how many people sent that to me going, “Can you believe? Can you believe?” And I felt like what I learned was Maria’s response to that was pretty much exactly how I felt. I was like, “Well, at least he’s not saying it’s this and he’s right about a lot of it.” And so, I think it for the context of this conversation, we should start by showing how this whole conversation started from there. How are Pilates and the Lagree Method different? Well, to begin, Pilates is a low impact, low intensity method, like super low. Like Pilates is not even a workout, it’s a restorative method, meaning that Pilates was created to restore the body’s natural balance.
That’s important. Pilates is and was never meant to be a cardio or a body sculpting workout. In a Pilates session, a person heart rate will typically be under 90 beats per minute, so it’s not intense at all. On the flip side, the Lagree Method provides a low impact, but high intensity training. Lagree focuses on core, muscular strength, and muscular endurance, allowing it to hit the anaerobic threshold, which is again, not found in Pilates.
There’s a lot in that, Sebastian. Super low, too low. So, thank you for doing that. And I guess I wanna start, to add to the context, how did it come to be that the two of you started speaking? Because I believe you did this online, live Instagram kind of thing.
So how did that happen? You saw it, I think, Maria, take it from here. I saw that video and of course I had some of the reaction that all the rest of you had, where my blood went here and, you know, super low, not a workout, low intensity. But at the end of the day, what I also heard was him trying to separate himself from Pilates, and let’s face it guys, I don’t even know if the Pilates community really knows who we are and what we are anymore. And in my career, I’ve had to, you know, fight so much with classical teachers and I’ve literally been labeled a classical teacher and I’ve been labeled a contemporary teacher and I’ve been told I don’t teach Pilates at all.
So I was like, “Here’s this guy.” Right or wrong, some of it right, some of it, eh. (Kristi laughs) That I can have a conversation with him. He’s not trying to ride on Pilates coattails. He actually wants to separate himself out. And I thought, “This is a good thing.” So I knew that Pilates, the Pilates community, was gonna have a hard time kinda listening to Sebastian.
So I reached out to him and I said, “Hey, I’ve been doing this as long as you’ve been doing it, I hear you, but you could have said some things a little different. Let me help you be more clear.” Well, the Pilates community can respond to you how you would like, and that will still honor what you’re doing as well. So I didn’t wanna cut him down at all. I was like, “This is a guy that, at least to one small aspect of this big conversation, which is what is Pilates, he can bring a lot of clarity and like, we can clean that up really, really quick because he’s on the same page as us. I appreciate that so much.
It is very much, your response was similar to mine. I was like, “Well, at least he’s not saying, you know.” And yet I’ll go further to say that I probably was very judgmental, I apologize now, I didn’t know how open this whole community is to hearing what we think or what you think, and I’m really hoping that this conversation helps bridge the gap and really help people understand the similarities and the differences. The differences are key and they should both be celebrated. So Sebastian, what did you think? Did you get a big response? I wondered that.
Did you get a big response like I did? Oh my god, yes. We got a huge response. It was mostly negative, but I kept all the negative comments on the site because I really wanted to show people because there was actually some good comments as well. You know, some people agree to some of the things that I said, you know, in the minority. I think that in the majority of people, some people were upset because they’re like, “Well, if you come to take Pilates at my studio, you’re gonna sweat, you’re gonna be shaking, you’re gonna be all that stuff.” And my point with the video is, I was talking about Pilates as I know it.
When I got certified back 25 years ago, I wanna talk about what, because obviously I’m teaching something different and I started out with the reformer and the Pilates, and I decided to make my own workout. And you know, not based on Pilates, but based on the reformer. But in the last 25 years, you know, the whole Pilates and Lagree, it’s all gray area because there’s methods, you know? I mean, I think people understand what running is and what walking, obviously you don’t have to, you know, to define these two. I think it’s pretty accepted. But to someone who doesn’t know Pilates or Lagree, they’re gonna put that in the same bag and that’s not fair.
It’s not fair for Pilates, it’s not fair for Lagree because they are two different workouts. So what I was trying to do with this video is really try to start to separate, just like Maria say, I didn’t try, you know, first of all, I wanna say that I have the most respect for Joseph Pilates, you know, and I’ve said that in some of the videos, comparing the Megaformer against a reformer, you know, and I’ll talk about that a bit later, but I have nothing but the most respect, you know, for Joseph Pilates because this guy was ahead of his time. So I have no beef, I’m not trying to put down Pilates, but you know, we have a lot of people doing Lagree still referring to the workout as Lagree. And I’m trying to educate those people about the difference between the two. That’s what I’m trying to do.
And I’m very happy that today we finally have this conversation, you know, and maybe this is the beginning of many more conversation because I think it’s important for both, for the Pilates industry and for the Lagree community to know, hey, what is Lagree, what is Pilates? Because I feel like a lot of fitness studios don’t even try to define themselves, you know, as long as people are coming in and spending money, they’re even trying to define what it is that they do at that studio. And I think it’s important. I think every studio should, you know, sit down and say, “Hey, what do we actually do here? Why are we so successful? Or why people like our workout?” Or blah, blah, blah.
So that’s all I’m trying to do is just define Lagree and then also just basically just, you know, just keep the two methods separate. Thank you so much. You gave me a million more questions that I did not already have, (laughs) but they’re gonna come. But my first one, Maria, was like, what compelled you, I guess, to try to make it better for him or anyone? Like, what made you reach out to him?
Well, I guess his willingness- Why did you care? To separate himself out. Well, I care, number one, he’s in my backyard, right? So we’ve been doing business around each other for a long time. I have clients that, and I’m sure you all have had clients that have some kind of story of having gone into a facility that they thought was a Pilates facility.
Turns out it was not a Pilates facility. They never should have been there. And they end up back at my studio or come in as new clients. And there are people that have gotten really badly injured doing what they thought was Pilates. And also as I was posting about this on Instagram, I got a lot of stories about people that went to studios thinking they were Pilates studios.
And you know, doctors also, we can’t always trust a doctor. A doctor says, “Oh yeah sure, go ahead and go do Pilates.” Well Pilates now, well, what is Pilates? So if you walk into the kind of high intensity group fitness atmosphere that businesses like Sebastian’s offer, well that is not Pilates. And I actually have a client that fell off a machine at a facility like that. And this client in particular, I won’t even let her do group sessions in my studio.
I’m like, “Absolutely not. Like your attention span is such that I can’t trust you. This is an unstable piece of equipment. You need somebody by you, you know, at all times.” So I think partially just from, I think there needs to be safety in our work. It’s not gonna be good for any of us if people are going to exercise and do something positive for their bodies and they come out injured, right?
So I think for the safety of clients, and then, you know, I have a little bruise where, you know, I don’t like being told that what I’m doing is Pilates or not Pilates. And I don’t know, I just thought this could help define things in the community. I think the community needs a lot of defining, a lot of defining, Pilates and then us and the other. (laughs) Yes, we’ll talk about the others. Maria’s totally right.
We do a high intensity low impact, but group fitness, we are not there to fix people. We are not, you know, the teacher training that we do is not to cover how to, you know, help people to heal from an injury, for example. We show people good form so you don’t hurt yourself when you do the workout. It’s a totally different thing. You know, Pilates is a very in depth, you know, a lot about anatomy and movements, you know, a lot about alignments and all that stuff.
But the idea with that is to, you know, to help people heal, you know, themselves. Lagree is not at all like this. So yeah, so we’ve had people come into the class, you know, and where Lagree was clearly not for them. And I’ve told the studio like, “Listen, if you have some people who you think are not able to do the workout, just tell them that either to do a private session, but really these people might want to do Pilates. And we’ve had some people walking out the studio because like, ‘”Hey, this is not Pilates.” And that’s why, you know, like Maria said, you know, I think it’s important to start to define the two so that people can go to the right place.
You know, some people might like Lagree better, some people might like Pilates better, and fine, you know, because at the end of the day, we are here to serve people, you know, we’re here to get people to move, you know, at least, you know, that’s the one thing that we have all in common is, you know, we believe that, you know, that people have to move, you know. For everyone, I just met Sebastian yesterday in a very brief conversation, and I think all three of us agree that movement is life. And so to lay that groundwork to say that everybody, like, I don’t think anybody here would say if you can get people moving and continue to move, that’s a good thing.
That video when you’re saying this is and this isn’t, or versus, actually put versus in it, I think. Pilates versus. Yet you’re an inventor. You created equipment called Megaformer, Microformer. And so my question is, are you doing that because of Pilates or in spite of Pilates? Like how?
Because it doesn’t seem like you even want to deal with Pilates sometimes to me, and yet you’re, you know? What do you say to the people who think you’re riding the coattails of Pilates and yet you don’t even like it? No. I wish I could say it better but that comes to me in different ways. So let me rephrase.
I like Pilates, I have nothing against Pilates, you know, I don’t want people to think that I teach Pilates or that we teach Pilates, it’s a different thing, but me, I like Pilates. I have no issues with Pilates whatsoever. It’s just that the reason why I did this video is because I want to show people that we are an intense workout because of those people that come to the studio and expect a more mellow workout or whatever they’re doing usually at the Pilates studio. And we wanna avoid a situation like, you’re gonna come to Lagree, you’re gonna sweat, man, you’re gonna shake, you’re gonna get sore the next day. That’s a whole workout.
This is what we do. And it’s very important for me that people get that it’s a high intensity workout because people sometimes walk out the class, “Oh my God, these classes are so intense. I didn’t expect it to be.” You know? I was like, “Yeah, because you thought this was Pilates,” so that’s my whole reason for that. But I don’t have any dislikes against Pilates whatsoever.
The machine, you know, that I made, So when I looked at the reformers, so first of all, you know, 1998. Can I stop you on one thought there? Like, why do you think people came to Lagree fitness thinking it was Pilates? Because there are too many studios out there that don’t do the work in defining the studios. When people license the workout with me, they’re supposed to use the word Lagree and Megaformer, but some studios will just say, “Oh, it’s a Pilates workout or it’s Pilates based, or it’s on the reformer.” We still have a, I would say, a significant percentage of our licensees will just call it whatever it is, Pilates, they’ll call the Megaformer a mega reformer or whatever.
They don’t pay attention. They don’t understand how important the labels are. It’s very important. I mean, if I wanted to, you know, get trained in kung fu and people say, “Oh, karate and kung fu is the same thing,” and I go to karate studio not knowing it’s karate, I’m gonna be just really pissed off when I found out, “Oh, this is not the kung fu I wanted to do.” It’s the same thing, you know, when you go to, you know, if you go see a rugby versus football, or you know, just like, we can go all day like this, you know, volleyball and water polo, you know, both, you know, the same one, it’s in the water, but it’s not. And I think that the title is very important because, you know, people pay a license, you know, to do the Lagree workout.
The Lagree workout is a method that I engineered based on what I thought was the best ingredient for a workout, you know, so core, cardio, muscular strength, you know, endurance, all that stuff, right? I literally created this workout from the lab because this workout was non-existent before me, and I wasn;t even doing it myself. I did it for a very specific clientele. So when people look for Lagree, they’re looking for Lagree, they’re not looking for Pilates. And that’s my whole thing.
I want to make sure that we direct or we guide the people to the right studio, because some people need to do Pilates, they don’t need to do Lagree, and other people need to do Lagree and not Pilates. And that’s all it is. So I’m just trying to provide definitions and directions for people so that we eliminate all these confusion when people go to the studio and they’re not happy with what they got. No animosity toward Pilates, right? Never did.
Sebastian, didn’t you even tell me that you were trying to get away from the word Megaformer? And so like, your new equipment is called something totally and completely different that sounds nothing like reformer, correct? I love you, Maria. Yes, absolutely. See, I remember. (laughs) So by the way, when I refer to the machine, so the Proformer, when I made a Proformer, you know, I used that because it was based, of course, on the reformer.
But then after that when I switched with the Mega, I wanted to actually get the Mega trademark. Now I’m able to get it because we’ve had Megaformer in use for over 10 years. Now I’m able to get the word Mega. So now we trademark the word Mega, and now I go by the word Mega, because you are absolutely right. The former in there is, you know, is a linkage, is like an ancestral link, you know, to the reformer.
So you’re absolutely right, the Micro, now we got the both the trademark for the Micro and the Microformer. Mini, Miniformer, but we go Mini, Micro, Mega, I have the suit right now, same thing Ultra. And I go by these names and I’m just dropping the former in there because I want to reduce the confusion with the reformer because we still have people calling us, say, “Hey, how much for the Mega reformers?” Like, it’s not a Mega reformer, it’s a Mega or Megaformer. So you are absolutely right. I’m moving in that direction where I want to remove that former.
So it’s a slow process, but we’re doing that. Absolutely. (applause) And when I talk about this- And it’s not easy to do. When I talk about this machine, It’s not easy to do. I talk about the Mega.
Yeah, exactly. Yes. Honestly, that was my next question. It’s like, “Why did you tie it to Pilates with, you know?” Okay, thank you, Maria. This was an honest mistake at the first, you know, when I did the Proformer, because remember that when the first 10 years of Lagree, I called it Pilates Plus, you know.
I think people need to understand that. When I came to LA I didn’t come here to be a fitness trainer or to have my own fitness method. I came here for acting. But after 30 days of sucking really bad, and people keep, you know, and I was really big at the time, I was, you know, body building, people kept asking me, you know, to work out with them. And I said, “No, I’m here for the audition, man.” You know, producers, directors, other actors will be, “Hey, you look in great shape, will you train me?” I’m like, “No, I’m here for the acting job.” And after 30 days of not getting any acting job, like, “Yeah, sure. I’m a personal trainer.” And that’s what led me to a studio that offered, you know, Pilates.
So from the first, really, for the first, even the first 6, 7, 8 years, you know, yes, you know the workout is doing fantastic, you know, but I’m still ignoring the sign that I actually should be doing this fitness instead of trying to pursue acting. And then after, you know, after a few years of finally got into my brain that I should probably just put the acting aside because this fitness phenomenon was growing just so fast. And I’m just like, “You know, I’m probably able to finance my own movie if I just continue with this,” which I did later because I financed my own, I financed a pilot and I financed a documentary on that. And then at that point, that’s when I stopped calling it Pilates Plus. I went through the SPX and I realized SPX was not really something meaningful.
And then I went to Lagree Fitness in 2011, 2011 when I started to switch basically everything to Lagree. All of this is starting to be very clarifying for me. There’s a question that Kathleen has that I also had is why do you think, and did this play a role? I’m gonna add to her question, why do you think Pilates is rehab? And is that a part of why you switched away from it?
So the reason I create this workout is this, so remember, so I’m coming here in LA, I’m a personal trainer and I’m looking for, you know, for basically people to train so I can pursue my acting audition. I landed in this Pilate studio on Melrose Avenue, and the owner saw that I knew what I was talking about for fitness. Like, “You know what, you should get certified in Pilates because I got clients for you right away.” I’m like, “Sure, you know, I’m looking for work.” So he certified me in Pilates. He gave me the routine to teach, he gave me the clientele. And it was very different from, you know, my lifting weight.
I’m a gym rat. I’m the guy. In my 20s, I was the first guy to be in the parking lot before the gym opened. I was the last guy to leave that gym. I would be at the gym three, four times a day.
You know, I remember doing my college, even during grad school, that’s all I was doing. I was lifting weight and I loved it. This is the only thing that mattered in my life was to get bigger, and I loved the weight. I just love all of the body building part of it. You know, if you’re not into body building, it’s hard to explain to people, but it’s more than obsession.
I think it’s an addiction, you know? And so I was addicted to that. So when I was brought into the environment where now I have to whisper my command to people because it’s another, you know, trainer and client next to me, I don’t hear the music blasting in my ears. I hear this elevator music, you know, I’m working on the wooden machines. It’s not my vibe, you know, and it’s not what I liked.
But the client came to me, they were given to me. I taught them this routine. Some of them liked it, some of them didn’t. And the reason why I modified the workout is because I’m like, “Well, listen,” you know, this owner was giving clients, the clients were doing Pilates. Some of them didn’t like it because it was not intense for them, and they were leaving.
So I told her I didn’t want to be out of a job. So I went to the owner and I told him, I said, “Listen, these people, when they are done with the Pilates, they go to the gym and work out. If you allow me to modify the method on the reformer, we can call it Pilates if you want to, but you know, they will stay because I know what they want.” These women, they wanna shake, they wanna sweat and they wanna get sore the next day. It’s just how people look at fitness this today and they were looking at fitness 30 years ago. Wait, I wanna jump in.
I wanna know what Maria does, because Maria’s in the heart of Beverly Hills, the same people that come that want to be actors. And so nevermind all the people who just wanna be healthy. Well- How do you deal? Go ahead, Maria, and then I’ll ask. Well, you know, Pilates is a spectrum, and I often get clients that come in and, you know, they’ve never done hundred, they’ve never done coordination.
“Oh my gosh, this spring is so heavy.” So we have to acknowledge that within the Pilates community, there are people out there doing extremely gentle pre-Pilates, one spring. It gets super, super precious and really like cerebral. And I’m not quite a gym rat, but I’m a mover. I like to move. I don’t care about one lung breathing my first time in Pilates.
I’m sorry, I just don’t. You know, I wanna move and I wanna feel, so Sebastian and I are very similar in that way, that I come to Pilates as a movement discipline. I do wanna sweat, I do wanna be physically challenged. And even with my clients who are, you know, today I posted somebody who’s 93, you go to Instagram and take a look at my 93 year old client, because a lot of you aren’t teaching anything even close to what this 93 year old is doing. So we have to teach to the person in front of us.
And I think that over the years, and Pilates is going like this, right? So Pilates has gotten in some circles a reputation of being like soft and easy and you don’t sweat and you don’t burn. And of course, I don’t teach like that unless it’s warranted with that client, and then I’m happy to do that. But I have to be able to teach in several different years from elite athletes all the way down to people who are really debilitated and even people in wheelchairs and with casts on. So I do think that Pilates often gets this reputation as something that’s very soft and easy and gentle.
And it can be that, but that doesn’t mean that’s what it always is. Agreed. Let me tag onto that. I know you have a lot of athletes, football players, let’s just Yes. Zero in on one or two, not their names, but just to say like, how do you deal with what Sebastian’s had to deal with? They don’t want to be told to move to the left or move to the right, or inhale here or exhale there.
I’m thinking of my boyfriend now. (laughs) You know, it’s like, “Move me, move me.” How do you deal with that rather than changing or creating a whole new method? Oh, you gotta grab their attention. You gotta give them something, you gotta read your client and you gotta give them an exercise that they connect to, that they can feel first and get them moving. And then once you have their attention, then you’re like, “Hey, try doing this and this time really seal your legs tight together. Do you feel how that changes it?” “Oh yeah.” You know, so you have to start, again, where they’re at.
I’m not gonna start a pro-athlete doing a toe tap. I’m not. (Kristi laughs) And I’m not gonna work with them with just two springs on the machine, you know, I’m just not. It’s a bad idea if you do. You have to load the body in front of you.
And I think you’ve gone a couple times, again, via Instagram, you know, so I was like, “Oh, are they on three springs for that exercise?” I’m like, “Yeah, do they look like they’re not moving well?” That body can handle that load, you know? So we have to be adaptable. We have to be adaptable. And Pilates is never just one thing, in my opinion. And by the way, I consider myself a contemporary teacher.
So for me, I adhere to the principles, the traditional principles. But I’ll bring stuff in. And hey, if Sebastian has a good exercise, I’m gonna be teaching it tomorrow in my studio. You know, I’m open to anything that works, that gets me, you know, my clients to stay excited, stay engaged, stay in the process, for sure. I love it. I think you’re both saying the same thing.
And part of the whole point from me, watching the little bit I got to see of you talking on Instagram, the similarities and the differences, they’re significant in both directions, but the commonality is really obvious to me. So I am seeing that in this conversation, but I wanna also know, Sebastian, what do you do? Did you athletes show up to do larger classes or do you have it set up? I don’t know enough to know. Do you have it set up where people come in for privates or?
We do both. But you know, for me, the reason I created the Proformer and the Megaformer was really for group classes. Because the thing that I didn’t like when I was teaching Pilates one-on-one and when I was teaching other, you know, fitness one-on-one is when the client canceled, I lost that hour and I hated that. And then with, you know, many clients, doesn’t matter how much money they have, sometime they don’t wanna pay for that hour, they don’t value your time. They said, “Well, how come? I only had three sessions.” I said, “You had four. Because remember, yeah, you didn’t show up last Wednesday.” “Oh, but you didn’t charge me for that, right?” I fucking hated to be in that position.
So I’m like, okay, very fine. When I opened my studio, which was an apartment in Beverly Hills on Clark Drive, right behind the ID, I wanted four machines. So about four Allegros from Balanced Body. That way, if one person canceled, I still have three other people. And I love the concept of the classes because I was always working.
And then because I had more people in class, I could charge less. And if I charge less, they didn’t mind so much if they missed the class. Now instead of missing out 150 bucks, they missed out on $30. So for me, the cost of the group classes worked out so much better. The machine, all the machines that are made are built for group classes.
This is where you have the easy spring change. This is where you have all the lines and the numbers and the colors on the machine so that everyone can be referenced quickly on the Megaformer, right? So I’ve made a bunch of innovations, you know, so that we can favor the group classes. However, sometimes we do get those people, right, the VIPs, they want to come in, they wanna do private sessions, and then they book that. I much rather offer, you know, to do a private class, you know, so when celebrities come in, and sometimes we have teams, like for example, the Raptors will come in and then they will book the whole studio.
All of the players are working out on the Megaformer. When I used to teach more, you know, in class, I would have class with celebrities, you know, we’d have people like, you know, Jennifer Aniston and just Courtney Cox, and you had Laura Dern all coming, Gabrielle Reese, you know, all come into the class. And I taught those private class, which was a lot of fun, you know, to do. I’m not a one-on-one person. Every single time I have to train high profile people, I hate it.
I hate it because I feel like, you know, I have to ask questions. So how are you, what are you doing? Sorry, it’s just so funny. I gotta call you out on that. You’re like so magnanimous that like, you’re telling me you’re not one-to-one.
You’re like, you’re like, anyway. Sorry, carry on, carry on. While you’re talking, I’ll let you finish. I wanna know, like, how did it change with like pandemic and stuff? I understand that you’re doing one-to-one with important people, not necessarily other people because you don’t want that.
But what about your group fitness situation is genius, you know, again, maybe well ahead of your time when people in the Pilates world might have said, “You can’t do that.” Just like they said to me, “You can’t put it online,” you know, 13 years ago. Did it change for you with pandemic or, you know, because now everybody’s doing Zoom classes from home. Did that change your business at all? And I’m gonna pass it to you, Maria, just after that. Same question.
Yeah, I think the pandemic affected everyone. I mean, I’m lucky that I’m still alive today. You know, I mean, this was ridiculous. Never in my wildest dream I would’ve thought that, you know, we would be mandated, you know, to close all the fitness location. It affected everyone.
And I have a lot of friends who’ve lost a studio. They’ve lost their entire livelihood. And I’m very pissed off about this actually, because it was absolutely no need to close fitness studio during the pandemic. Actually you should force people to go to fitness studio because we all know movement heals. I mean, that’s the whole premise with Joseph Pilates.
That’s why he created his method because he believed that moving had healing benefits and he was totally right, you know. Working out will boost your immune system. We need fitness more than anything else. We need fitness more than crypto. We need fitness more than the banking system.
We need fitness just like we need water and air, period. You know, no matter if it’s Pilates, Lagree, yoga, you’re gonna run outside. We need to be physically moving. And I think that’s why we’re all doing what we’re doing over here because we know this, you know, that is truth. So the pandemic for me, it affected a part of my business.
It affected the commercial studios because everything had to be shut down, you know? And right before the pandemic, again, we were named number one workout on ClassPass in December of 2019. So the phone was ringing constantly. December of 2019, January 2020, February 2020. We were just completely so crazy busy.
This was gonna be the biggest year yet because up until 2020, Lagree has been going on a straight line like this. We never had any of a dip or whatever. It’s always been just exponential, right? And the pandemic killed that. However in 2019, I started to work on a smaller machine called the Micro, because I’m like, “We’re having a lot of people wanna buy the Mega, but the Mega’s an expensive machine.” It’s a big machine, so you can’t just put it in your living room or anywhere.
You know, if you have a flat in New York City, you’re not gonna get a Mega, it’s gonna take all your room. So I thought, “You know what, I want to build a machine that people can store it in the bed and I want it to be commercial graded and also want it to be less than $1,000, okay? I have to go on the opposite end.” And I do wanna answer your question, Kristi, but since he brought up ClassPass, I am hoping that Sebastian can help, can help the rest of us that deal with ClassPass. ‘Cause there’s a very big problem with ClassPass, and I can’t speak for ClassPass for the whole country, but ClassPass as a studio, when you put yourself into a category up on ClassPass, what I’m being told are that studios like yours still show up under the Pilates category. And if Sebastian could clear that up with ClassPass so that your facilities are not under that Pilates tab, that they are on maybe spring-based fitness, but not Pilates, that would help so many of us, because you know, I don’t wanna train somebody that comes in looking for Lagree, you know?
Those people like always trying to move and add springs and add this and add that. So if they’re looking for Lagree, they need to go over and do Lagree. But it would help tremendously if you could clear that up with ClassPass and ask ClassPass to put your facilities in a different spot and not call them Pilates studios. That would be a huge help to other people like myself. We have those already done ClassPass before the pandemic.
We actually work with ClassPass and they have a Megaformer. So we are listed on the Megaformer workouts, and also we’re listed under Lagree in ClassPass, but some studios may still list themselves under Pilates. On ClassPass, there’s two categories for Lagree, Lagree and also the Megaformer, those two. And that was prior the pandemic. But I’m not ClassPass, you know, so I- What about competitors, Sebastian?
What about your competitors? What’s that? What about your competitors? Well, I don’t have competitors, I have copycats.
Oh, okay, sorry. Pandemic hits. People are trying to be, you know, money conscious, they need to be money conscious. And so did you change your scenario any differently because of it? And I know we’ve talked to you on other Pilates Reports. Well, first off, I’m very much aligned with Sebastian, maybe not as aggressive, but I don’t feel warm and fuzzy towards our governor.
And I wish the politicians in the state of California had just given us an opportunity to do our thing and make money. And if people felt scared about going into a fitness facility, then they wouldn’t come, but they handcuffed us. So that was very, very unfortunate. We did move to online like everybody else. What it really did for me is it gave me personally an opportunity to start doing house calls, which I would never do before.
It was just like, “I’m not gonna take time out of my day to go do that.” So between my house calls, between the online work that we were doing, and we kept that online aspect to our business. So right now, if you go to the Bodyline schedule, and I think we’re the only people doing it, by the way, the copycats, no competition. (Kristi laughs) The competition, whatever it is he said. Maria- So we have a hybrid model. We complement each other.
We’re not copying each other. We do, we do. We complement each other. We do complement each other. It’s true.
We do complement each other. So we have a hybrid model now. So if you join us for groups, we actually have this desktop up in our main studio here. And as I’m correcting this person here on this machine, I’ll look to the desktop and then I’ll correct you there. So now I’m not restricted in this amount of space.
My rent is quite high, as many of you can imagine in the heart of Beverly Hills. But now I can take, I can take up to four or five people online in addition to what I have in the studio for group training. So it did open up, I feel bad saying it, but COVID actually ended up strengthening my business and I feel very guilty about that. ‘Cause I know a lot of people really struggled, but man, I was out there in front, I mean, within like 10 days, we were up online. But I do feel a little guilty that there were other people doing quality work that were not able to make it.
A question came in from Candace that I also had, which is, okay, thank you Maria. Sebastian, you have franchises. What did it do to, did you oversee how they handled pandemic? Did you oversee how they did it? What happens if they go online and they’re a franchisee?
No, no, no. So that’s the difference with franchise and the license. The license, I sell you the rights to use the name and the method. That’s it. So we don’t charge those, you know, we don’t charge those franchise fees with royalty fee. I’m completely against royalty fees.
I’m completely against someone dipping in my account every month getting 5 or 8% of my sales when I do all that work. So I will never put that onto a licensee. So the licensee pay a fee to use the name and the method and everything they make is for them. And so I’m completely against the franchise model. You do all that work yourself.
You should make all the money. Why should I make even 10% of what you make? This is ridiculous. You know, I’ve never liked the franchise model and I think that’s like the 70s ways of doing business. I think the license is the future of any kind of the business like that.
However, because of that, you know, I don’t have any control. So my job as a licensor is to provide solutions for my licensees. So when the pandemic hit, we had the Micro available and actually saved a bunch of locations. So we started to sell a lot of Micros to studios and they started to offer group classes outside. And so I was able to actually help a lot of the studios with the Micros in that regard.
So if your big problem is that people are not calling it Lagree because they wanna get around that licensing fee, is there a way for you to just simply restructure your licensing fee? I’m gonna cut you both off because I think this is so important and I want you to back up and set the stage because we just briefly spoke about franchise versus licensee. And I know in the brief conversation we had yesterday that some people are, like, not paying, I don’t know what they’re doing exactly, but they’re calling it Pilates perhaps on the Megaformers and having gone through Sebastian’s trainings and things like that. So now back to your question, Maria, please. That’s happening.
So there’s two points, right? If I’m the business owner, right? And I’ve paid for the Lagree license, there was two things that would go through my head. Either people aren’t looking for Lagree, like the Lagree name isn’t a big enough draw to get people into my studio, therefore I have to use Pilates, or my licensing fee is so big that I wanna save money and say, you know, “I’m not gonna pay the licensing fee this year. I’m just gonna call it Pilates.” So either of those things can be fixed by Sebastian.
And if it’s the fees, maybe there’s some kind of sliding scale licensing fee, which in the long, long end of the story, would help you because what you really want is everybody using the word Lagree. So the Lagree brand, if it’s not toe to toe with the Pilate brand, it will be, but the Lagree brand is never going to grow if people keep using the word Pilates. So that’s my question is why aren’t they using the word Lagree? Is it price or is it brand recognition? No, I think a lot of it is the price.
You know, people want the Megaformer, they don’t wanna pay for it. I mean, let’s put it that way, you know, it’s like some people want a Chanel purse, they don’t wanna pay for it, they get a fake Chanel purse. I mean, that’s that type of mentality. There is a group of people out there who simply don’t value, I think, you know, what they do at the studio. So they want to have something that kind of look like a Megaformer and then, you know, if it looks like a Megaformer, okay, and they call it Pilates and they don’t really care then, they don’t really have any, they’re not really invested.
This is something they do for the money. I never did that for the money, you know? I mean, yes, the money is a thing, but this is something I’m doing, you know, fitness is a religion to me. So, you know, not everybody’s like that, right? So to come back to the licensing restructure, we did that last year, you know?
Last year I switched, I am offering people now a yearly subscription, which is way more affordable than the one time license fee. And then that has actually just spurred the demand now for the license. So we’re going through like a lot of sales right now because we have the licensing fee, which has become just way more affordable than ever before. So I’m trying to level myself a little bit of clientele, but I do have to charge a licensing fee. I do have to charge, you know, the price that I’m charging for the Megaformer because I have 145 patents.
These are like tens and tens and tens of millions of dollars. I’ve poured over $80 million myself in the business. So there’s a lot of money that has gone into producing the patents. You know, when people see like the rower attachment to the Micro, they’re like, “Oh wow, this is amazing.” Well, it costs money to do this. Let me jump in ’cause there’s questions that pertain to this.
I’m sorry. I told you yesterday I was gonna have to cut you off ’cause you have so much to say and I really, both of you just said so many things I wanna dive deeper into, particularly those 145 patents. A question from Lori since watching, can Sebastian explain specific differences between Pilates and Lagree? Are there similar exercises? Is the difference intensity or held under tension or what?
So you know, since we’re debating what Pilates is- Thanks Lori. I’m not gonna talk about the difference with Pilates and Lagree, but I’ll tell you why I created Lagree. Lagree is a muscular endurance workout. So the clientele that came to me back in 1998, and ever since, you know, in 1998, I had a lot of actresses and model coming to me and they all wanted to lose weight even though they were already perfect, you know, they all wanted a bit more shape around the butt, around the bodies, but they couldn’t get any more weight. So I had to train these women in a very specific way and basically I had to use time under tension.
So I used a lot of body building training techniques for bodybuilders when they get ready for a show. So it’s a lot of volume training, a lot of sets, a lot of circuit training. It’s whatever can burn fat, but burn not just the subcutaneous fat. I’m talking about the intramuscular fat, fats around the organ, to get really tight and to increase the muscle striation. So what you want more definition and when you want muscle striation in your body, you have to train a very specific way.
That’s what we do in Lagree. And so in the past 24 years, all I’ve done is further define that workout with new technologies that I’ve created. So now we are on Lagree 2.0, so I’m not even talking about Lagree anymore. I’m talking about Lagree 2.0. Lagree 2.0 is the elimination of transition, you know?
You have a higher heart rate because you’re constantly moving on the machine. We have lights on the machine that guides you with your tempo because you gotta move ultra slow, not super slow, you gotta move ultra slow. We go to a speed I call striation speed. So when you work out on this machine, you can’t even tell the person is moving forward or back. That’s how slow they’re moving.
So the workout, you know, is extremely intense on the muscles, but it’s gentle on the joints. And that’s something that both Lagree and Pilates have in common. And by the way, in 2023, more people are now looking for low impact option than anything else ever before. Low impact workout are on the rise. So it’s great for the Pilates community, great for Lagree, but that’s what Lagree is, you know, it’s a muscular endurance workout.
But I feel that the reformer was probably the best base for the machine that I created because the springs on the reformer, the combination of the spring, a moving carriage and the cable allows you to have full range of motion, whatever the movement is, and the spring allows you to stay longer in that exercise. I was in Portland teaching a couple weeks ago to a new studio that has a Evo 2. We did 14 minute super lunge, 14 minutes in the same movement, but it was a full body exercise because I was able to change the tension as people were working out so they could change the upper body exercise. These people were like all drenched, sweaty, shaking. It was freaking amazing.
I’m gonna jump in. There’s nobody on this call certainly on this call and probably even listening that doesn’t like a good sweat, just so we’re clear. (laughs) But you answered a question I was gonna ask is like, “Why the reformer, why did you do that?” You answered that to my liking. It’s about the differences. I mean, you heard Sebastian speak very specifically about his background with muscle building, right? And strengthening and sculpting and body and creating muscle.
And it’s not that Pilates can’t get you stronger, right? So I think people are very defensive in the Pilates community. “Well, Pilates can get you strong. You can sweat doing Pilates.” Yes, you can do all of these things, but it’s not our goal to simply take muscle groups to complete muscle failure so we can find strength in that part of the body. We’re an inner body discipline.
There are many things that we are doing within a session. His workouts are outer body, right? You’re out, there’s noise, it’s the environment, it’s fun, it’s group. And yes, Pilates can be that, but I think in the Pilates community, we just have to kinda start to be a little bit honest about we can and cannot do. And it’s not a cardio workout. It just isn’t.
And don’t tell me, yeah, I know you’ve been on the jump board and then you’ll sweat. Sure. (Kristi laughs) It is not what it is designed to be. It is never going to be in the way that Sebastian’s workout is hyperly focused to do one thing. We just don’t do that in Pilates and it’s okay, you know, it’s okay.
We’re an inner body, we’re a mind body discipline. I don’t even consider myself really part of the fitness world. I don’t wanna be part of the fitness world. I hate gyms. They smell bad and noisy. I don’t like the lights.
I don’t like the neon lights. It is not for me. This is what I like, calm, peaceful, being centered, breathing, working hard, working up a sweat. So they’re really two different beasts. One of the only common things I think is the low impact and it’s just a machine with springs on it. And I would say something, I think Lagree and Pilates together is wonderful.
You know, I told Maria, I say the reformer, you know, a hundred years ago, no other fitness at all. Fitness is completely non-existent for this guy to come up with all these inventions. And the thing is too, also with Pilates, initially in the 20s, 30s, 40s, he worked really hard in coming up with all these different apparatus and it was hard for him to sell his workout because people didn’t understand what he was trying to do. Pilates didn’t really take off until I think in the 60s or in the 70s, you know, and Joseph had sold his studios, you know, by that time. But he relentlessly continued to work and develop all his apparatus, regardless if it sold or not.
And that speaks volume. And you know, as an inventor myself, you know, I respect the dude, you know? If Joseph Pilates had be born today, things would’ve been way different because today there’s a market for fitness. Anyone today, me, I’m benefiting from the, I’m standing on the shoulders. There’s so many people in front of me because they’ve done all the groundwork to make fitness, you know, something acceptable.
But fitness for me is more than, you know, it’s a necessity, you know? Sebastian, you have made a movie about the future of fitness and so I don’t need to know about the movie now, but we will link to it if it’s out. But what I wanna know is what, in 30 seconds or less, what you think the future of fitness is, and Maria, it’s coming to you and ask what you think the future of Pilates is. Future of fitness is, I think that fitness is going to move toward more other categories like mental fitness. People are gonna start, like, I’m starting to develop workout now to make people happier or I want to develop workout to combat depression or anxiety because we know that actually fitness has more application than having a great ass and looking fantastic for Instagram.
I do fitness because it makes me feel great. And I think ultimately that’s what Maria is also talking about. And I think in the future you’re gonna see the fitness becoming more and more fragmented and you will see workout just to improve your mood, or a workout to maybe boost your intelligence. Because fitness does this, you know, it’s incredible the impact of movement on the brain. So that’s how I see fitness becoming more fragmented and having just more specialized.
Maybe fragmented is not the right word, but more fragmented. And low impact fitness is definitely part of the future of fitness. Because if everybody keep doing all these high intensity, high impact workout, at some point some people are gonna be, “Hey, you know what I need to just do something the opposite of this because the body needs balance.” Thank you. Maria? So a fitness future of Pilates. Oh gosh.
We don’t do it because of how it makes us look. I mean, sometimes they go in hand in hand, but the thing that gets me back into moving isn’t me going, “Ugh, I need to go work out.” It’s usually like, “I don’t feel good. I need to get back to moving.” Within the Pilates community in and of itself, I mean, it is the wild, wild west out there on Instagram. And honestly, I don’t think people really know what Pilates is anymore. And my feeling is that Pilates is gonna be somewhere right in the center, and it’s gonna continue to grow, and there’s gonna continue to be a heavy influence from the fitness world into what we do.
And I think it’s a good thing, it’s a good thing, especially if we teach it within the framework of what Joe did. And if we teach it within the framework of this is still a mind body discipline, I think that we can continue to grow. And as another very funny connection between Sebastian and I, he mentioned it, a former student of his, Jennifer Aniston has now been a client of mine that I picked up during the pandemic, and I’ve been going to her house. But I have to tell you, Sebastian, one day she came in with one of your shirts on and it was like, “I Lagree.” And I’m like, (Kristi laughs) What the heck? And she’s like, “Oh, well.” Thank you, Jennifer. (laughs) Yeah. Yes, seriously. That’s awesome.
That’s awesome. She, you know, loves both disciplines and she actually didn’t see them as being connected. We saw them as two totally different things. So isn’t that funny? I wanna leave it on that, but I’m gonna give you one more thing, and this is when, Maria, I’ll start with you.
When someone leaves your studio, what do you hope they walk out and think in their minds or say to themselves? “Oh God, I feel great.” Just, “I feel great. That was great. I feel great.”
I feel like they just got all the energy out, you know? And they feel basically just relaxed. You know, they got all this intensity out of the body. And they’re just relaxed, you know? Energized but grounded.
Yeah. Yeah. I really want you all to come over and have a bonfire and keep this conversation going, and I hope you will. I know you are- Let’s do it. Are doing it.
Let’s make this a permanent thing. I’m all for it. I think this was probably the most exciting thing. I’ve had a conversation that had to do with Pilates, what is it, what isn’t it? And so I’m very grateful to both of you and I hope that the two of you keep it going for other people.
If you do, please let us know so we can let other people know. But Sebastian, you kind of bridged a gap, I think. We’ll find out, but I think we understand better. And Maria, thank you for shepherding us into this conversation to begin with. And my goodness, just thanks for letting me be the moderator and/or interrogator. (laughs) Yes? I wanna say something
for people watching right now. Maria and I are talking about doing an outdoor event together, a Lagree Pilates workout in LA. So if you guys are interested, just please let us know because I would love to do this. So we’ll talk about it with Maria and then hopefully we’re gonna make that happen. That’d be fantastic.
Absolutely. We’re definitely going to make it happen. And this will stay on the- That’s amazing. This conversation will stay on the website if things like that develop we’ll add it- Perfect. So people can find it. Yeah.
Thank you so much, both of you. Oh, thank you so much. It was wonderful. Thank you, guys. Absolutely. Okay. Until soon, I’m guessing. Thank you so much.
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