Sebastien Lagree: An Interview for Dallas Yoga Magazine
By: Mary Von Ahnen, Owner, Horizon Hot Yoga
Technology has become a major player in fitness in the last few years. Fitness machines have become more and more sophisticated. Streaming fitness sessions into our homes is common.
I recently had the opportunity to get to know a bit about Sebastien Lagree. He is the only fitness professional in the world who has patents on both fitness technology and a fitness method. He has one of the most fascinating career stories I have ever heard. Not only has he influenced fitness globally with his workout equipment and fitness method, but he has reached celebrity status, working with A-Listers such as Megan Markle, Michelle Obama, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, and many others. Class Pass even determined that the Megaformer, one of Sebastien’s fitness machines, has been the fastest-growing fitness trend in America.
Sebastien really lives what he preaches. Fitness is his passion and his job. I had the pleasure of interviewing him on subjects ranging from his humble beginnings in the French countryside to the patents he holds. He comes across as extremely genuine and really cares about helping everyone with whom he works to achieve fitness, which he believes can only come from a true mind/body connection.
I posed a few questions to Sebastien so that he could tell us a bit about himself in his own words.
Mary: What made you decide to leave the beautiful French countryside for America?
Sebastien: I have always wanted to live in the US. When I had the opportunity to study there and earn my MBA, I became even more enamored with the wide range of opportunities available in the States, and it was evident that it would be the ideal place to put my business goals and aspirations to action. I still have family in Europe and visit often, and there are many Lagree licensees across the continent as well – specifically in France! I typically travel often and look forward to doing so again soon when it is safe and visiting my global studios.
Mary: Tell us about your documentary film Future of Fitness. Give us your vision for where technology is leading fitness.
Sebastien: The Future of Fitness was filmed because I saw an uncertain future within the fitness industry. People are increasingly lazy and will resort to anything to look fit but not to workout. I had to research and investigate this concern. Fitness is so much more important that having a great looking body. Our mind and our brain require us to be fit. We cannot develop fully without exercise. I think that in the future, more people will work out for entirely different reasons. It won’t just be for matters of vanity, but it will be because there is a more holistic understanding about the vital importance of exercise in longevity.
Mary: How does technology assist us in becoming more in tune with our brain and our body? Where is technology going to take the fitness industry?
Sebastien: With technology comes opportunity and advancement across all industries, but this is particularly relevant for fitness in that it enhances accessibility. I launched the Lagree at Home app this year amid the pandemic as my company adapted and shifted our model given the global situation. We harnessed the power of technology to offer unique and different approaches to fitness. Technology also allows us to be accountable as there are so many ways we can track progress and understand the ROI of physical activity. This satisfaction will turn into motivation to continually improve.
Mary: What can you tell us about personal motivation, as covered by your short series Fitspiration?
Sebastien: Different things have motivated me at different times. When I was 13, I worked out to get girlfriends. Today, at 47, I workout for longevity. We all need to find our inner inspiration if we want to stick to it. Motivation is what gets you started. Inspiration is what gets you going.
Mary: What do the Megaformer, the Supra, and the Ultra do? How are they used in a workout?
Sebastien: These machines have all evolved from one another. They all have different mechanisms. The Supra and Ultra lift and tilt, which the Mega does not. The Ultra will have a few more features not available on the other machines.
Mary: How do these machines help to work out your body? Are they intended to provide a full-body workout?
Sebastien: Lagree is definitely a full-body workout, and proves that it isn’t about how long and how many reps you’re working out for. It’s about the intensity and movements. Lagree is a core-centric workout, and a typical 25 minute class is all it takes to get the job done. Doing a class three days a week is enough to notice results given the system of our workout.
Mary: Describe your patented Lagree Fitness Method.
Sebastien: Lagree is a full body, high intensity but low impact workout. If you want to change your body; you have to stimulate it; that’s what high intensity is used for: to create change; unfortunately, high intensity exercises can also be high impact and therefore detrimental to the joints, connective tissues, and the spine. Lagree fixes this equation by offering both: a workout that will change you but not hurt you over the long run. Our three core principles are Core, Muscular Strength, and Muscular Endurance which are all three linked to longevity.
Mary: From reading about you, I see that your personal philosophy is rooted in perseverance and tenacity, regardless of roadblocks. What are some of the personal and professional obstacles you have overcome?
Sebastien: OMG, there are too many. That’s a book! Perhaps the most disappointing roadblock is the proliferation of copycats within our own community. Licensees who suddenly come out with their “own” machine or trainers going rogue. This creates a lot of confusion about what Lagree is, and we usually have to do all the cleaning. By cleaning, we mean that we have to do the work to reestablish what Lagree is and what it is not. When our licensees breach contract, it threatens the Lagree brand as a whole, and it then becomes our team’s responsibility to promote the authentic Lagree name. Many ex-licensees are trying to copy the machine, but they do not understand the method. The machine was created because of the method, not the other way around.
Mary: Do you want to tell us about a personal obstacle you have overcome?
Sebastien: This year presented a unique and unprecedented set of challenges, but in a way, we did anticipate that a change in the fitness industry was coming. The industry boomed in 2020 and grossed billions of dollars in profit amid COVID-19 as gyms closed and home fitness became the norm. For a company that operates via in-person classes, we had to adapt to stay relevant and continue serving our clients that turn to Lagree as a vital part of their daily routines. With the launch of the Lagree at Home app, which demonstrates more than 200 moves that can be done on our machines or off, and with the new Microformer machine that is compact and geared toward home fitness, we persevered.
Mary: You train a number of celebrities. How does your method cater particularly to people with very busy schedules? Is there flexibility in your workouts?
Sebastien: My workout is perfect for VIPs because it is so effective that it can be done within 25 minutes or less. The results are also noticeably quick if you are dedicated to the method. I’ve worked with many celebrities and athletes who have had very specific goals and a strict timeline, which is why they turn to Lagree to help them achieve those goals and look their very best. There’s also flexibility in that there are different classes and movements that can be done on the machines – clients can really make it their own!
Mary: Your instagram tells me you are a dad. How have you juggled being a parent with the significant career you have?
Sebastien: It’s not easy. I do work a lot. I have definitely missed a few events here and there, but they do appreciate all the hard work I put in creating this company. My kids will go to college very soon and then join me. They are both interested in fitness and love the machines we build. They want to continue the legacy.
Mary: I also notice you love M&Ms. Me too!! What is your philosophy on the role nutrition plays in overall fitness?
Sebastien: Nutrition is key! I do indulge once in a while, but I try to eat pretty clean: avoid fried food, microwaved, canned, boxed, frozen food. I usually don’t buy any food which comes in a plastic bag, cardboard box, wrap, etc. I order a lot, and I make sure to eat fresh and mix my food.
Mary: I own a yoga studio. I truly believe the mind/body connection is the key to long-lasting health. I see you believe the brain has a huge role to play in the motivation factor for exercise. What are your thoughts on this “brain/body” connection?
Sebastien: Absolutely, and that is a topic I cover in my documentary. I think that more and more people will work out to exploit that connection. I am also a huge mental health advocate and encourage my clients to recognize the connection between the mental and the physical to live holistically well-rounded lives. This is very important to me.
Mary: In yoga, we say that every great teacher is also a student of his/her students. What do you learn from your students?
Sebastien: I learn from my trainings and my students each time. As a matter of fact, I would not be able to evolve the machine without teaching. Teaching is a vital component of my business. If not for the pandemic, I typically teach many times a week. I am very hands-on and appreciate feedback from my students and interacting with them. They’re my priority!
Mary: Did you always have a vision for the services and products you offer? Or did you grow into this fitness empire organically, figuring it out as you went along? How did this big adventure unfold?
Sebastien: No, that’s just happened. Of course, now looking back, it all makes sense but back then, I had zero clue of what would become. Fitness has always been my passion and professional aspiration, but never did I anticipate building a global company. Innovation, networking, traveling, and a genuine interest in health got me to where I am today.
Mary: What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies outside of fitness?
Sebastien: I love to travel and explore new places but my favorite hobby is scuba diving. I love diving. I have been diving for 31 years now, dove all over the world but still have many places to check out. I love to dive with predators (sharks, crocs, etc..) That will probably be how I retire someday: get a big boat and dive every day in unknown places. I love the ocean. I recently partnered with www.useadiving.com which is an organization dedicated to the preservation of Orcas.
Sebastien’s bio tagline reads Visionaire/Entrepreneur/Inventor. As you can see from the interview, he embodies all three of these. He has the vision to see where the fitness industry is going and the technical talent to invent equipment to get us all the most optimal workout in our busy lives. And as someone who has reinvented himself multiple times, he is the consummate entrepreneur.
You can learn more about Sebastien at his website https://www.lagreefitness.com/ and on Instagram at @lagreefitness and @sebastien.lagree
About The Author:
Mary Von Ahnen is a certified yoga teacher and owner of Horizon Hot Yoga in Frisco. An amazing yoga community offering a variety of yoga styles, meditations and workshops. You can find our more about her studio and the classes they offer: www.horizonhotyoga.com