We met Kasey Perry-Glass at her Core Evolution gym almost exactly 24 hours after I worked out with Laura Kraut. I would love to tell you I was smart and proactive and spent at least some of those 24 hours between workouts stretching or taking myself for handwalks, so I wouldn’t wake up the next day feeling like I fell off 20 times, but I woke up the next day feeling like I fell off 20 times.
Kasey, of course, needs no introduction—she represented the United States at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (North Carolina), has been on U.S. Nations Cup teams, and she’s won many Grand Prix classes. I have taken two formal dressage lessons in my entire life, and let’s just say that no one needs to worry about the sport missing out on my untapped natural ability.
I tried to do some last-minute stretching and touch my toes calves just below the knee while we waited outside the gym with Kasey for it to open at 7 a.m., and I asked her about her regular workout routine. I don’t know why I ask these questions before the workout because the answers just scare me. Kasey said she started Core Evolution because she was going to a regular gym, had run a marathon and several half marathons (all while riding multiple horses a day, mind you), and she just didn’t feel like she was as fit as she could be. I cannot imagine going to the gym regularly, being able to run 26.2 miles and ride multiple horses and feeling like there was more I could do, but these Olympians reach for the stars. I mostly reach for seconds.
Kasey said she found Core Evolution’s workout style unique from a lot of gyms and thinks it really kicked her fitness up to the next level. Given that I was basically starting from Dante’s ninth layer of hell compared to her, I correctly predicted this one was going to be rough.
Kasey introduced us to her trainer, Isabel Mercedes, who is one of the most delightfully bright and peppy people you’ve ever met. Her personality made her really excellent at this job because you need someone extraordinarily optimistic and motivational to get you through this workout. The whole routine is based on something called the Lagree Fitness Method—it’s a style of workout involving a lot of resistance work and cardio all based around this machine a guy named Sebastien Lagree invented.
I had never heard of Sebastien or his funny-looking machine, but when we got ready to start the workout and Kasey told me I wouldn’t need to wear gym shoes for this, I got excited. I mean how hard can a workout be if you do it in your socks? Kasey was very sweet and brought an extra pair of socks with grips on the bottom, so I wouldn’t be slipping around.
So there we are, a potato and an Olympian in our matching star socks, when I stop to study the words painted on the far back wall of the studio: Embrace the shake. I was puzzled by the phrase at first. What kind of shake are we talking about embracing here? The Shake Weight? A dance move? A chocolate shake? Because I could get behind any of those. I love a good as-seen-on-TV product, and I’ll do a funny dance for a milkshake any day.
Turns out it was referring to the way your muscles twitch when they’re under extreme duress. All the exercises in the Lagree program are designed to push you to the point where your muscles are LITERALLY shaking. You are supposed to push yourself to the point where every little muscle fiber in your body is crying uncle, then move to a slightly different position to torture a slightly different muscle group, and let me tell you it is a WILDLY effective strategy. I was shaking nearly the entire hour. At one point Isabel was on the other side of the room getting something and said “I can see your arms shaking from here! That’s good!”
What was wild about this workout was how little you needed to move to work the different muscle groups intensely. You would get in a plank position of some variety on the machine, which has one stationary platform and one moving platform, and Isabel would say, “OK, move the platform out slowly about a foot, and then slowly back.” If you walked by and looked in the window of the studio you would probably think it’s not very intense; you’re just moving a foot. But holy WOW is it.
And when I say you’re moving that platform slowly, I mean slowly. Isabel said it would be the longest four-count ever, and it was. It reminds me of when you’re in a lesson and your trainer says you’re going to do an exercise “one more time.” They mean seven more times, and when Isabel is counting to four it’s like, “Onnnnnne Mississippi, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Montana; twoooo turtle doves, a partridge in a pear tree, a pair of partridges, a partridge eating a pair of pears; threeeee—GOOD GOD, WOMAN, IT’S BEEN LIKE 30 SECONDS AT THIS POINT—annnnnnnnnd four.”
I really tried to hang in there with Kasey, but the last half of the workout was basically me contorting myself in some terrible-form variation of the move we were supposed to be doing while Kasey was powering through reps, cool as a cucumber. My photographer extraordinaire for this workout, Emily Riden, had a good time getting shots that show the juxtaposition between Kasey’s calm, composed workout expression, and my “this is the end, tell my dog I love him and pour one out for me” face.
This was the only workout that was so hard it got to the point where I physically could not do it anymore. We were in the final five or 10 minutes in some sort of plank position when it occurred to me that when my arms inevitably gave out in the next 30 seconds this moving platform was going to shoot right out from under me, and I would probably land squarely on my face. I opted to collapse on my stomach before that happened, and I think Isabel took one look at my face and was like, “I must let this potato rest before it breaks.”
It really was a super good workout, and Kasey and Isabel were excellent sports for letting us tag along. Kasey said she does this three to four times a week, in addition to two or three sessions at a traditional gym! Isabel said one of the things she really likes about the method is you can adjust the resistance on the platform and the various bands to make it as hard or as easy as you want, which allows people of all different abilities to be in the same class. Next time I’ll just opt for the potato-appropriate level of exercises.
You can find Lagree fitness studios all around the country that can put you through the same kind of work out Kasey and I did at this link.