Thursday, May 30, 2024 May 30, 2024
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Shape Up: Somehow, I Fell into the Megaformer at SculptHouse

My first foray into Lagree Pilates was much more than I bargained for.
Catherine Wendlandt

I knew what SculptHouse was before I took the class. I love the Pilates studio’s athletic wear boutique—I want to live in their matching sets. But I didn’t know anything about their Lagree classes. In hindsight, I wish I did. I would have been better prepared. And I might not have gotten hurt. 

I did research the Inwood Village studio beforehand. I read the studio’s FAQ page, which recommended new clients take a megaformer machine class first. I also read D’s first-timers guide. The 2019 article interviewed a trainer, who suggested beginners try the megaformer-based StrengthSculpt class. So, I signed up for StrengthSculpt, which the website described as easily modifiable and promised to “burn fat, kick-start your metabolism and improve postural alignment.” 

I got to SculptHouse the recommended 15 minutes before class. The studio was small and narrow—only two rows of machines. I found my station, which had a handwritten welcome note and a towel on the bench. Then, my instructor explained how to use the megaformer, a fitness machine often used in Lagree fitness classes.

It is a long contraption with benches in the front and back, a sliding platform in the middle, several workout bands, and adjustable resistances. You use the sliding platform to balance and manipulate your own body weight in a series of lunches, arm curls, planks, and more to strength-train. 

But I didn’t get any of that after my instructor’s explanation. She rushed through the breakdown of megaformer’s various mechanics. This was frustrating because the studio had made a big to-do—even texting me ahead of time—about getting to the studio early to learn the machine.

When she finished, I still didn’t understand how it worked. I then had to explain my disability. Looking back, I could have done a better job at clarifying my limitations. But after the quick megaformer talk, I felt I had to rush through my description too. Besides, my instructor looked nervous when I said I was disabled, and I felt awkward belaboring the point. 

After our talk, I had some time before class started. Then the music came on, the lights changed colors, and we started various exercises with the machine. Often, we were standing on top of a bench and lunging forward on the sliding platform. My instructor had given me some modifications (like setting a low resistance on the platform), but I still felt very wobbly and precarious. I didn’t know what I was doing. 

About 10 minutes in, I fell into the megaformer. My arms caught on the front bench, my legs on the sliding platform that was now behind me, my back like a “U” in between. I was stuck. The instructor raced over, and a man next to me pulled me out. 

I was in shock. And I was mortified. As a disabled woman, I don’t have a lot of control of my body, so I trip a lot. I fall a lot. I don’t cry often when it happens, but this time, my eyes welled. I wanted to leave. But fight or fight kicked in. When the instructor asked if I was okay, even though my arm was throbbing, I nodded yes.

She gave me more modifications after that. Instead of lunging forward on the sliding platform, I lunged backward and kept my dominant front leg on the stable (read: stationary) bench. There was a tall pole that I could hold onto for balance. The man next to me was a regular at SculptHouse; he would lean over and explain each move as we did them. He’d help me make modifications, so I’d stay safe. I somehow managed to get through the 50-minute class on pure adrenaline. But when it was over, I beelined it out of there. I was shaking, and I was angry that I had fallen. 

To be fair, there were a few things I did like about the class. Most of it involved slow and controlled movements—the calling card of Lagree—which I appreciated. I got a good stretch in my upper back. I liked that the megaformer manipulates your own body weight and uses it to help you strength train. I even liked that I did get a core/balance workout.

But still, the next day I had a nasty bruise on my thigh, I could barely move my arm, and my armpit had swollen. I didn’t care that I wasn’t good at the actual Pilates part. But, the studio had promoted the megaformer as a good start for beginners, and it wasn’t for me. Logically, I knew the fall was an accident, but I was and am frustrated that it happened. I expected to be safe in this class, and I wasn’t.

Final Thoughts


The studio is small and intimate. If you’re intimated by large crowds, this is the class for you. I loved the hand-written note at my station when I arrived. During my class, the music blared, and the lights changed colors, which was fun on a Friday morning. Plus, the boutique is perfect for browsing before or after class.


SculptHouse offers several types of workouts, but the StrengthSculpt class I took was hard. Because all the exercises were slow and controlled, the difficulty sneaks up on you. There also wasn’t any stretching before or after the class started, so if you’re not warmed up, that could make things harder for you. 


Here are a few things I liked about SculptHouse: They did have stands you can hold onto for balance. The resistance on the machine was adjustable. Those two things helped me get through the 50 minutes. However, you need to have a base level of core strength and balance to do the class. If you don’t know what you’re doing, the Megaformer can be dangerous. I wished my instructor had made more of an effort at the beginning of class to make sure I knew how to use the machine safely in terms of my disability. What happened to me was an accident, but I still got hurt in this class, and my fall was preventable. 

The Cost of It All

A single class credit at SculptHouse is $32. The studio also offers five-, 10-, and 20-class packages, as well as weekly and monthly memberships, student specials, and private trainings. There are also several first timer specials: $15 for one class, which is what I chose, plus three- and 10-class passes offered at significant discount from the normal packages. The class does require grip socks—if you don’t own any, you can buy a pair for an additional $14 at the studio (half-off for first-timers). 

Would I go again? 

No. I might try another class down the line, but I wouldn’t do another StrengthSculpt class. 


Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…