Sebastien Lagree makes good on his promises. The muscle-bound Frenchman behind Lagree Fitness, a Burbank, California, exercise equipment company, created a patented machine called the Megaformer, a $6,900 contraption that combines the principles of Pilates with strength training and counts Kim Kardashian and Sofia Vergara as its fans. But last year, Lagree told the New York Times that people were “blatantly copying” his machine’s design. He planned on suing them.
On September 18, Lagree Fitness filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Solidcore, the popular Washington fitness studios (they’ve been frequented by Michelle Obama and single classes there cost $37) and the company’s owner, Anne Mahlum.
In the complaint, Lagree alleges his company and Solidcore agreed to a $65,000 licensing agreement in 2013 that granted Mahlum use of his products in some Washington Zip Codes. Mahlum paid $69,000 for ten Megaformer M2’s, an updated version of Lagree’s original machine, and later leased 11 more, paying $99 per month for each.
Things went well at first, but around 2014, Lagree says Mahlum went rogue: She removed his name from the machines and started repackaging them as her own. Then, three months ago, he says, Mahlum announced plans to open a new studio equipped with Megaformer products in the Bethesda, Maryland area–though she was not licensed to do so. Lagree took his claims to court and sued Mahlum for, among other causes, breach of contract and false advertising. He’s demanding damages, attorney’s fees, and a temporary restraining order barring Mahlum from using his name in any way.
But Mahlum says she was the one who initiated the legal battle. On September 9, she sent Lagree a letter accusing him of breach of contract. Lagree couldn’t deliver machines as quickly as Mahlum needed and wasn’t providing studios with sufficient training, Mahlum says. So Solidcore studios stopped teaching the Lagree method.
Mahlum says she won’t use Megaformers in Solidcore’s future locations. “It’s a frivolous lawsuit,” she says. “A lot of the facts are not correct.”
As for the leased equipment, Mahlum responds thusly: “We are not violating any of the contracts… He cannot tell us what we can or cannot do with machines we own.” (Through a spokesperson, Lagree declined to comment.)
Mahlum says her lawyers are preparing a legal response to Lagree’s complaint, and earlier this morning, Solidcore made the split public: