Boco Fit, 2100 Pearl St., unit C, Boulder, 720-441-4450,

Instructor: Amy Dalton, of Boulder, who also teaches yoga at CorePower. She has been practicing yoga for eight years and says Lagree Fitness has enhanced her yoga. She was recently certified in Lagree Fitness.

Boco Fit opened mid-August as the only studio in Boulder County with the Megaformer machines. The closest studio to offer Lagree Fitness is in Denver, but that studio uses the old machines, according to owner Boco Fit Margaret Shutze, of Boulder.

Shutze discovered Lagree Fitness while traveling to Los Angeles as an interior designer. She moved to Boulder about a year and a half ago and decided to open up a studio.

"I loved that this was a low-impact workout, so pretty safe, and also you got all the principles of strength-training, core, flexibility, balance in one 40-minute workout. It was nice, intense but compact," Shutze says. "I saw a complete change in my body."

What is the workout? Lagree Fitness has been called "Pilates on crack." It uses special machines, which sort of look like futuristic, bigger Pilates Reformer machines, to bring together strength-training, core work, balance, flexibility and endurance.

Although it pushes your muscles to the max (really), it is low-impact on the joints, connective tissues and spine.

 Instructor Cielo Busch, left, encourages John Wright through an exercise during the Megaformer Blast at Boco Fit in Boulder.
Instructor Cielo Busch, left, encourages John Wright through an exercise during the Megaformer Blast at Boco Fit in Boulder. ( Paul Aiken )

The founder was a body-builder who wanted to design a program that was as effective -- and efficient -- as possible, to allow people to get a complete workout without needing to spend several hours a day to do it, according to Shutze.

This studio offers Lagree's newest evolution of the machine, the M3 (Megaformer). This machine offers constant tension and forces you to perform the movements slowly and in control, so the muscles constantly work. They can't ever let up. The machine itself is designed for quick changes of resistance and positioning, so you also don't lose any time setting up; this keeps the cardio high.

Every class is different. Teachers have the freedom to combine more than 200 exercises with their own music.

"Because it's always different, it keeps the body engaged. It keeps the classes interesting," says Dalton.

Lagree Fitness is known for being popular among celebrities and pro athletes. It is offered in 60 cities around the world.

What's different: Although this machine uses some of the same principles as the Pilates Reformer, it's quite different. First, it also has a back platform so you can do the exercises off the back, which makes them much harder than off the front platform. The Megaformer has more springs so you can add more weight and is easier to change than the Reformer, so intervals stay quick and the heart rate keeps high.

The Megaformer is also longer than the Reformer to give the muscles more extension, and it uses completely different exercises. Instructors have more flexibility and creativity for how they organize the classes (which may be a plus or minus, depending on your perspective).

Also Boco Fit brings another fitness option in downtown Boulder, which tends to be heavy on the yoga offerings but not much else.

Shutze likens the workout to more of a fast-paced, strength-training workout with stretching than Pilates.

What does it cost? An intro class is $15. Then you can sign up for a two-week unlimited intro special for $99. After that, classes run $35 per class to $300 for 15 sessions. A 20-session-per-month pass, with a three-month commitment, is $300 per month (or $15 per class).

When: Classes are 40 minutes long; you really couldn't do the Megaformer for longer than 40 minutes. Almost all of my major muscles were shaking with complete fatigue by the time class ended.

Check the website. There are more than 25 classes per week.

Level: Classes are capped at 10 (the number of Megaformers). Classes are appropriate for all levels, because exercises can be modified or weight can be added. Participants in my class spanned yoga teachers, men and women, athletes and runners.

As strange as it sounds, I pushed myself to the max in the class -- without really feeling like I was pushing myself. The machines made it easy to find my personal edge, and because it was new and fast-paced, it kept my brain occupied. Class flew by.

I feel like I pushed myself to an eight on a 10-point intensity scale, which is my favorite place to be in a super challenging and efficient workout. It's sustainable to repeat regularly, yet challenging enough to yield quick results. What to prepare: Comfortable workout clothes, no shoes and grippy socks with no toes, to keep you from slipping off the machines. You can buy a pair there. (I borrowed a pair.) Bring a water bottle and maybe a towel. I sweated more than I expected.

Muscles worked: Full body, with an emphasis on legs and core. All exercises work multiple muscles at the same time, particularly your stabilizing and core muscles.

We also worked "slow-twitching muscles," which continue to fire even after you're done with the workout, so you continue to burn fat and build strength after you leave class.

Because movements were slow and controlled, I think it'd be hard to hurt yourself in a class like this. It's nice on the joints, too.

What I loved: I like the 40-minutes length, which allowed me to drive to the studio, get a full workout and get back to the office in one hour. I love this kind of fitness -- lengthening and toning at the same time. I have no doubts this method would be effective.

What I didn't like: You know I'm going to say this: the price. This is one of the most expensive group fitness classes I've ever tried. Parking can also be tricky in downtown, so come early.

How I felt after the class: Immediately after class, my legs (especially inner thighs) continued to twitch and shake for a while. Through the rest of the day, my muscles continued to feel pretty exhausted, although I had plenty of energy to do get my work done.

-- Reported by Aimee Heckel.

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