I thought I was in pretty good shape…I run, I do Pilates, and, when I know mojitos are in my future, I burn off a few hundred calories in a spin class. However, after my experience at CST50 in Darien, I learned that I was dead wrong – this workout kicked my butt (in a really, really good way)!
CST50 (an acronym for “cardio”, “strengthen”, “transform” – in a 50 minute group class), was developed by Los Angeles-based fitness guru, Sebastian Lagree – he’s responsible for the enviable physiques of Nicole Kidman, Rebecca Romijn, and Katie Holmes. CST50 blends the strengthening and toning benefits of weight training, with the muscle lengthening and posture enhancing benefits of Pilates, in a rapid, non-stop series of movements that keeps your heart rate up to burn calories.
The entire workout is performed on a “Megaformer”, a pretty nifty piece of equipment designed by Lagree that represents a significant evolution of the traditional Pilates reformer. The Megaformer utilizes movable platforms, pulleys, and springs, and can be adjusted for all fitness levels. There’s no-impact to joints and no pressure on the spine, and, the machine is deigned so that when you’re on it, it’s difficult to be out of alignment – so it’s ideal for people who are recovering from injuries.
Co-owned by lifelong fitness devotees (and high school BFF’s), Felice Marcy and Annabel Marisca, the Darien studio is just one of eight facilities on the East Coast utilizing the CST50 method (there are two in Florida, three in Boston, and two in New York City). Felice discovered the method while living in New York and says she was “obsessed”. “I used to do Pilates and then felt like I needed to go for a run after. When I discovered the Lagree method, I didn’t feel that need. I fell in love – I got stronger and I saw changes in my body that I never saw after doing any other type of exercise,” Felice said.
Each 50 minute group class is led by a certified instructor and an assistant who helps the participants adjust the Megaformer and demonstrates the correct positions. Our instructor, Mikella Bryant, started with a series of full-body stretches to warm up and prepare the five women (ranging from young moms to seniors) for the workout. Roughly 5 minutes into it, I began to perspire and by 15 minutes into it, I was drenched. We were led through a series of exercises that are guaranteed to dig into those muscles that you haven’t felt in some time – from your core, to your arms, back, shoulders, and a series of thigh-trembling leg movements – you are both physically and mentally challenged throughout the entire 50 minute workout. Since the routines and classes are completely customized to your fitness level (from novice to advanced), you can move at your own pace – increasing the intensity and weight as you gain more strength.
At the end, I felt energized – not exhausted. I experienced that endorphin-fueled rush – that rare wave of euphoria you chase like a pot of gold at the end of the sweat-soaked rainbow – it’s easy to see why Felice was obsessed – I think I am too!
CST50 – 9 Old Kings Highway North, Darien, CT www.cst50darien.com