Walk into one of the three The Studio (MDR) locations on the West Side of Los Angeles, and there’s an immediately palpable energy: It’s a mix of determination and dedication, cute leggings and sweat, capped off with just the slightest bit of, well, fear.
The workout is a (particularly grueling) Megaformer one that’s earned The Studio cult-like status among die-hard fitness devotees—and tons of newbies who just don’t want to mess around.
“Our instructors use the Lagree Method for an insane, total body workout that ultimately sculpts strong, powerful and lean bodies,” says owner and CEO Lisa Hirsch, who fell in love with the method as a client. The machine’s like a Pilates reformer on steroids, and the moves you do on it are no joke, such as lunges with one foot on the moving carriage and pikes that really force you to isolate your core.
Hirsch opened her first location, The Studio (MDR) West, in Marina del Rey (hence the MDR) in January 2011 and her second, Studio (MDR) East, down the street from the original in October 2014. A third outpost—the biggest yet, though still intimate—debuted at Runway Playa Vista on April 1, 2016 with a Sweaty Betty pop-up shop (the first and only one in the world) and 16 Megaformers (versus West’s 15 and East’s 10).
“We keep our class sizes small so our clients feel like they are getting personal training in a group setting,” says Hirsch. “My goal since day one has been to create a peaceful haven for people looking to make a positive change in their lives.”
And although Hirsch has plans to grow her brand even further—perhaps nationally—that neighborhood studio vibe is always going to be an integral part of the workout. “I never want lose sight of the importance of the up-close-and-personal experience we provide,” she says.
That attention comes in the form of skilled and motivating instructors who aren’t afraid to push students to their edge. While the Lagree Method that The Studio (MDR) uses is licensed out and thus offered under other names around LA, studio culture differs brand to brand. Here, it’s not unusual to hear one person mutter to another, “Does it ever get easier?” after a particularly hard class has come to an end. The answer is no. And that’s the key to The Studio (MDR)’s success—and probably yours, too. —Sari Anne Tuschman, additional reporting by Erin Magner
This article was originally published on February 10, 2015 and was updated on March 31, 2016.