Those machines you see at HIP Fitness? They're called Megaformers, and the Pilates-inspired apparatus counts Meghan Markle, Sofia Vergara, and Michelle Obama among its fans. They love it for how effectively it torches calories and builds lean muscle.
The effectiveness and low-impact nature of the Megaformer is what made HIP Fitness owner Lubna Kamal decide to open Houston's first Megaformer studio in 2014. Kamal found the Megaformer when she was living in Los Angeles with her husband.
"At first, I thought of it just as a low-impact workout I could do to stay active after a recent knee injury, but the strengthening and toning effects of the Megaformer were so amazing — so much more so than on a Pilates reformer — I just fell in love," Kamal says.
When Kamal and her husband made the decision to move back to Houston to be closer to family, Kamal knew she had to bring the Megaformer back with her to Houston.
What makes the Megaformer method so effective is the emphasis on slow, controlled movements against the continuous tension of the springs. HIP clients are encouraged to work to total muscle failure and to move between each exercise as quickly as they can, so they get a real cardiovascular workout as they're strengthening their muscles.
The workout is a challenge, but Kamal emphasizes that the challenge is set by the client.
"We want clients to be challenged at their level," she says. "Our HIP trainers will encourage you to keep pushing, but from wherever you are, whether you're modifying the movement or taking an advanced variation. The goal is for you to improve and build strength from wherever you were yesterday."
Houstonians have really fallen in love with the method — HIP has expanded from that one studio in West U to locations in River Oaks and Sugar Land.
"Back in 2014, there wasn't as much awareness of the Megaformer, so it took a bit of a leap of faith to open that first HIP Fitness location," Kamal says. "It really is such a testament to just how incredible the method is that we've really been able to grow the Megaformer community the way we have over the past five years."
Kamal gives a lot of credit to her experienced HIP instructors, though. There are instructors who came to HIP with experience from New York, Baltimore, and Louisiana, and instructors who started out as clients at the first HIP location.
"By being the first Megaformer studio, we've been able to really cultivate experienced and passionate instructors who try to deliver a fantastic experience for each client, and they help to build the incredible HIP community we have today."
According to Kamal, HIP isn't even close to slowing down.
HIP Fitness is located at 2294 West Holcombe Blvd. (West University); 2400 Midlane, suite 330 (River Oaks); and 1525 Lake Pointe Pkwy., suite 500 (Sugar Land).