A new form of fitness, dubbed 'Pilates on crack' is turning the heat up on the hundred-year-old exercise. And it has just hit our shores.
The dynamic method called Lagree Fitness was created by Hollywood personal trainer and Pilates instructor to the stars, Sebastian Lagree in 2003. Noticing that his clients were compartmentalising their fitness regimes, and feeling frustrated with the limitations of traditional Pilates, he set about developing his own technique and equipment.
"The thing with regular Pilates classes is that, they're great for core strengthening, but on their own, they're not really sufficient if you want to get a lean, toned physique quite quickly," says Cat Rose, who has just opened Australia's first studio in Sydney's Paddington.
Rose first came across the technique, which uses a souped-up version of the traditional Pilates reformer machine, six years ago in London. She says she was instantly hooked.
"I thought 'wow this is completely mind-blowing'... I found with regular Pilates I wasn't getting toned, I wasn't getting that lean muscle build and I wasn't getting my heart rate up during the session."
While the Lagree Fitness method aims to work the body from top to toe, she says "it's the intensity that really sets it apart."
Each 45 minute session is designed to push all the major muscle groups to failure.
Rose assures me that failure - or shaky muscles - in this context is a good thing. "If you want to change, you've got to get that progressive overload," she explains. "You've got to get your muscles to work a bit harder than the last time."
Apparently adopted by the likes of Courteney Cox, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Anniston, I'm keen to see how it's different to Cardiolates, Yogalates or any of the other fitness trends claiming to fuse fat-burning, core strength and flexibility.
As a runner and yoga-devotee, I assume I'll be all over it. I am mistaken.
Each exercise is broken down into short, sharp sets, with a focus on slow, steady movements. Using varying levels of resistance and props, the purpose is to stimulate slow twitch muscle fibres and fire up our fat-burning furnaces, Rose explains. But, as the muscle fatigues we start working fast twitch muscle fibres which develop lean muscle definition. "When your slow twitch fail, your body will have no choice but to switch to fast twitch."
Twitching, shaking or breaking, I'm not sure, but I'm feeling it. After the 50 minutes is up, I'm not puffed, but I am stuffed. I can feel muscles I had forgotten existed - obliques, bum, legs and arms. Everything hurts.
"A lot of the exercises are really compound," Rose says. "So you're not just isolating one muscle group, you're really using your lower body your upper body and strengthening your core in just one exercise, so it makes it really efficient."
I'm thankful when Rose, who recommends only two or three classes a week, tells me that "recovery is as important as workout" as it's one week later and I've only just recovered.