We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Pvolve is right for just about everyone. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a fitness newbie, a bodybuilder, or somewhere in between, there’s surely at least one aspect of the method that can help open your hips, tone your thighs, or show you something you didn’t know about your body. But what about expecting mothers-to-be? Exercises for pregnant women are often a hot-button topic for two reasons: most of us don’t know if working out with a baby bump is safe, and if it can be, we’re unsure what exactly to do to keep moving in a healthy way during those nine months. And when those nine months are up, how can you safely work that post pregnancy belly? Dr. Amy Hoover, DPT, Chief Physical Therapist and member of the Clinical Advisory Board is here to answer your questions about exercises during and after pregnancy. Is Pvolve safe during pregnancy? Because the Pvolve Method is a low-impact, functional, and mindful exercise program, it’s safe for pregnancy and postpartum as long as you do not have any restrictions from your physician. One of the biggest myths that I hear is that pregnant women should not work their abdominals or core. This is the opposite of the truth! Women need to maintain their abdominal strength to support their changing body and posture. Pvolve focuses on postural alignment, strength training, flexibility, toning and circulation—all things that are crucial focuses for expecting mothers. Much of the Pvolve equipment focuses on hip and core strength and balance, both of which are excellent options for prenatal workout. Specifically, the P.ball can help with balancing the pelvis when done with correct core activation. Resistance bands are great for building strength, and gliders can help with balance. The excitement and anticipation during pregnancy is a wonderful time in an expectant mother’s life. With it comes many emotions and significant physical changes that may make it difficult to know what your body needs. Rest assured, exercising throughout pregnancy has many physical benefits, and can aid in labor, delivery and postnatal recovery. And even more so, giving yourself ample time to move throughout the day is necessary to destress. Exercise has even been known to help treat postpartum depression. Exercise during the first trimester The first trimester often brings excessive fatigue due to the hormonal changes happening within your body, as well as the hard work your body is doing to grow your baby. You might not feel as energized as usual to exercise, but even 30 minutes of low-impact exercise can help improve blood flow and overall mood. It can also help prepare your body for the rest of your pregnancy by building or maintaining strong hips and abdominals, improving posture and facilitating proper movement patterns. Because of our mindful approach, you’ll be able to adapt to your changing bodies needs and continue to build strength and stability. In particular, this is a great time to begin to focus on posture with the P.band and 2 lb. hand weights so that you’ll be prepared to carry your newborn around with ease when the time comes. Exercise during the second trimester The second trimester brings significant changes to your body, including widening of the pelvis and ribcage and of course increased weight in the abdomen as the uterus stretches with your growing baby. These changes (because they happen relatively quickly) can be hard for your muscular system to keep up with. This is the time when common issues can pop up, including lower back, pelvic, rib and sciatic pain. The best way to improve or prevent these issues is by maintaining good strength, flexibility and range of motion in the hips and working on functional core strengthening. Using resistance such as the ankle bands and P.ball will help you keep the muscles in the glutes and hips strong to meet your growing body and even working with the P.3 Trainer will help keep the abdominals strong while still providing room for the baby to grow. Exercise during the third trimester The third trimester is the home stretch, and with it comes more physical demand on your body as your baby continues to grow and change. Mobility gets more difficult as our brain wants to make us move how we did before pregnancy, but your body is not physically the same. Mindful exercise can help us map out more effective and efficient movement patterns to reinforce more comfortable movement, posture and positions. Post-Natal Workouts The first three months after delivery is becoming more commonly known as the fourth trimester. During this period, your body is recovering from childbirth, adjusting to changing hormones and adapting to the dramatic physical changes that occurred literally overnight. Postpartum check ups are usually scheduled around 6 weeks after your baby is born, but guidelines are changing and sometimes your physician will see you sooner. You can start doing Pvolve as soon as you are cleared postpartum for exercise by your physician. If you have been doing Pvolve during pregnancy then you should have no problem going right back to it since it’s low impact. However, you may want to modify for the first week or two until you feel stronger. You can ease back into post-pregnancy exercises with the Post-Natal series with Cecily or try a workout in our Pre/Post-Natal collection is a great place to start. Carving out some time for self care will allow you to be more present in the special moments that come with motherhood.
We can work all day long to tone the arms with the P.band and glide our way to leaner legs with Gliders, but according to Dr. Amy Hoover, DPT, Chief Physical Therapist and member of the Clinical Advisory Board there’s a whole other area most of us forget about: the pelvic floor. This set of muscles helps support the pelvic organs, and more importantly, can help give your body the balance it requires for life’s daily movements. Most would probably be surprised to learn that the pelvic floor also includes the core—a major focal point of the Pvolve workout. “All the core muscles (back, abs, pelvic floor) need to work in balance in order to really give you the stability and strength that your body needs. The core is not just your abs!” Dr. Amy explains. Below, Dr. Amy dives deeper into everything you need to know about the pelvic floor and how the Pvolve Method can work in tandem with other best practices for pelvic floor activation. What is the pelvic floor, and why is it important for women to pay attention to? The pelvic floor is a bowl or sling-shaped group of skeletal muscle at the bottom of the pelvis. It plays an important role in supporting the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus and rectum in women. It also helps support the functions of these organs, specifically bowel, bladder and sexual function. So it is pretty important! Keeping it strong can help maintain these functions and prevent things like pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence. How and why is the pelvic floor relevant to the Pvolve method? The method involves core activation which includes the pelvic floor. Since your pelvic floor is involved in stabilizing your core, it is also important for maintaining good posture and form during your Pvolve workouts. How can I make sure I’m properly activating these areas? When you hear the trainers cue for the core, include your pelvic floor. Draw your lower abs in and contract your pelvic floor, and then go into your p.sit. This will help maintain good pelvic and lumbar alignment during class and help to take the stress off of your lower back so that you can perform the moves more effectively. What about kegel exercises? A kegel is simply a pelvic floor contraction. If you are doing true isolated kegels, you should not be using your gluteals, abdominals or other hip or thigh muscles. You are tightening the muscles between the sit bones that run from pubic bone to tailbone. As stated above, you need to kegel WITH your abdominal activation and keep your breath moving for ALL core and abdominal work. Work on kegels alone, but include the kegel with your abdominal work. As always, Dr. Amy suggests starting slow and paying close attention to the tiny details in every Pvolve movement. "Pvolve offers many opportunities to engage your pelvic floor," she says. "Listen when trainers cue for the core, and do this together with kegels!"
Menopause has a lot of negative connotations, including menopause weight gain—especially menopause belly fat. If you believe the messaging we see out the world, it’s the time when a woman’s body dries up, she puts on weight, and she’s on her way to becoming old and frail. If you’ve had those thoughts yourself, it’s time to reframe what this experience can look like. While menopause does signal a shift into a different stage of life (hormonally speaking) there is a lot to embrace about this time—and exercise can play a pivotal role in helping you look and feel strong and happy. That’s why we’ve created our new fitness series, for women in perimenopause and menopause. Made in partnership with Elektra Health, it’s designed to help women combat menopause symptoms with movement and mindfulness, and includes short cardio HIIT workouts, resistance and weight training, and meditation. It’s just another way Pvolve supports women throughout all stages of their lives with evidence-based fitness workouts designed for where you are now—and where you want to be. Table of Contents Menopause and Exercise Menopause: Understand What Your Body is Going Through Menopause Exercise Plan with Pvolve Resistance & Weight Training HIIT Workouts Pelvic Floor Strengthening Meditation Menopause and Exercise: Full Body Benefits Menopause and Exercise At the core of our menopause exercise plan is functional movement, which helps you move better in the world outside your workout, either by mimicking the movements you do in everyday activity, or by strengthening the muscles necessary to do them—and, often, by simultaneously sharpening your mind-to-muscle connection so you can move more freely and feel more open in your body all day, every day. The Pvolve Method uses sequencing that weaves in all these elements to unlock your body so it can move the way it was designed to. Menopause: Understand what your body is going through As your body enters perimenopause leading up to menopause—defined as going 12 months without a period—there are lots of changes happening. “We currently recognize that there are at least 34 possible menopause symptoms,” says Jackie Giannelli, FNP-BC, NCMPFNP-BC, NCMP, founding nurse practitioner of Elektra Health, our partner in the Moving with Menopause series. “And around 80 percent of women will experience at least a few of them.” Some of the more commonly discussed symptoms include menopause weight gain/redistribution, hot flashes, night sweats, “brain fog,” mood swings, and vaginal dryness. And much of that can be blamed on hormonal shifts. “Menopause often involves a change in body composition as estrogen levels decline and our body becomes more insulin resistant,” explains Antonietta Vicario, VP Talent & Training for Pvolve. “Many women experience weight redistribution from the thighs and hips to the waist and abdomen, often referred to as belly fat.” Estrogen decline impacts many systems within the body, resulting in less lubrication of muscles, ligaments, and joints. Of particular concern, notes Vicario, is the pelvic floor. Estrogen helps maintain elasticity and hydration within all the connective tissue of the pelvic floor which supports our sex organs, the bladder, and the rectum. “The pelvic floor is another essential muscle we address to help prevent pelvic prolapse, hypertonicity, incontinence and constipation due to the ever changing environment of the connective tissue. These exercises may even improve one’s comfort during sex,” she says. Estrogen also plays a protective role for our bones, which are susceptible to losing density with estrogens decline during perimenopause and menopause. But it’s not the only area women can see a decline. “In addition to the decline in estrogen, we lose muscle mass as we age, sometimes as much as 2 percent year over year after the age of 40!” Vicario says. “That muscle is often replaced by fat tissue which is less metabolically active so one’s resting metabolic rate diminishes.” A combination of cardiovascular movement, strength training, and meditation works with your changing body to build strength and retain the flexibility and functionality you don’t want to lose. Menopause Exercise Plan with Pvolve “There are so many things we can do to support the body through menopause and help potentially manage some of these changes in body composition,” Vicario says. She and Pvolve expert trainers Maeve McEwen, Cecily McCullough, and Reneé Settle lead the Moving with Menopause workouts. “First, I’d say to prioritize heavy weight training at least 2-3 times per week. The more muscle on the body, the higher your resting metabolic rate so you want to keep that ratio optimized as muscle burns fat,” she says. “A big component of this at Pvolve is both our strength-based movement exercises and our resistance-based equipment.” Cardiovascular exercise helps keep a woman’s heart, bones, and brain strong while also keeping cortisol levels in check, Vicario says, making it a perfect complement to weight training. “Shorter intervals of cardio—think 20-25 minutes incorporating 20-30 seconds of all-out movement—balanced with strength training is protective without spiking cortisol, a stress hormone that when triggered repeatedly can create a signal in the body to hold onto fat tissue,” she says. “Keeping these workouts short works out perfectly, since women in this life stage are often juggling career, family, and prioritizing their own needs.” Meditation for menopause is another tool to try. “Arming yourself with breathing techniques to reduce cortisol in the body can help offset the negative effects of this hormone that can lead to weight gain, disrupted sleep, even shrinking the size of our brain!” Vicario says. And the mind-body connection can also be harnessed during pelvic floor exercises. “By working to be able to both strengthen and release these muscles through mindful activation, we can help keep the pelvic floor functioning well,” she says. Each workout in this series will help you reach your goals, move better, and feel stronger. Resistance & Weight Training “Building lean muscle mass is one of the best and most effective ways to mitigate the changes that happen when we begin to lose estrogen,” Giannelli says. “Muscle is a more metabolically active tissue, and therefore more regular exercise—specifically strength training—will help with weight maintenance as well as strength, endurance, stability, and balance, in order to slow down muscle loss.” During perimenopause and into menopause, it becomes critical to create muscle with resistance training to help burn fat, she explains. In our menopause series, you’ll notice the workouts call for heavier weights and less reps. “We specifically created workouts for menopause that lean on lifting the heaviest weight load one can manage while maintaining proper alignment, breaking down our muscle fibers to stimulate muscle growth,” Vicario explains. “This is intentional in order to take the muscle to its point of failing,” says Amy Hoover, DPT, member of Pvolve Clinical Advisory Board. “That is what ultimately builds lean muscle mass.” HIIT Workouts While the Pvolve Method emphasizes lower impact movement, for this series, we took the intensity up a notch with short cardio pushes. High intensity interval workouts can improve blood sugar levels, as well as improve cognition and memory. This type of workout may also improve blood vessel function, burn fat and lead to better cardiovascular health, Hoover says. And the benefits don’t stop there. “Cardiovascular exercise is not only good for the heart, but also helps to reset and maintain circadian rhythm or our sleep cycle,” she adds. As women get older and start to worry about bone density loss, these strategic cardio pushes can play a role in staying strong. “Multidirectional stresses on the body stimulate bone growth,” she explains. “Pvolve has functional, multidirectional movements as a foundation and now we are adding more stress through the body.” Plyometrics, or jumping movements, is another key component in increasing bone density and heart health overall. And with the PVolve workouts, it’s something anyone can incorporate into their movements when done with good form. “Plyometrics helps stimulate bone as well as muscle power,” she says. “We include stresses through the upper body as well as the lower body, so if you can’t jump because of joint issues you can still practice plyometrics or even light impact to get this benefit.” Pelvic Floor Strengthening Strengthening the pelvic floor can help support sexual health and combat urinary and/or fecal incontinence, and pelvic prolapse. And while pelvic floor health is essential in all phases of a woman’s adult life, once a woman enters perimenopause and menopause, it is more important than ever to address this muscle group specifically. “Sixty percent of women will experience urogenital symptoms like urinary or fecal incontinence, bladder dysfunction, constipation, or pelvic organ prolapse,” Hoover says. “Keeping the connection to the pelvic floor and practicing both good relaxation and strengthening of these muscles will help you mitigate these changes and can compensate for the tissue changes.” As estrogen levels drop, there is thinning of the connective tissues and structures around the pelvis including urethra, vaginal wall, and rectum, she explains. This may have a negative effect on the way the pelvic floor functions, contributing to pelvic floor weakness, tightness, or both. Pelvic floor exercises are another key component of PVolve’s workout series for menopause. And they have whole-body benefits. “Once you know how to incorporate the pelvic floor in your movements, you can integrate this muscle into all of your workouts when you need stability and when lifting heavy weights by contracting or when you are opening all the muscles in the hips and abdomen during recovery through release,” Vicario says. Meditation Our meditation sessions—which include both breathwork and stretching—are essential for improved mindset, sleep, and recovery. They help regulate cortisol spikes (which can lead to belly fat), encourages recovery through mindful movement and helps your body maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, which is especially important at a time when many women report disrupted sleep. “The breath is such a powerful tool that we can tap into anytime and anywhere that has a dramatic and immediate effect on lowering our stress hormone to help us with insomnia, sleeplessness and stress,” Vicario says. “Prioritizing recovery and breath work as needed is a great way to ensure you feel good in both mind and body during what can feel like a chaotic time. Menopause and Exercise: Full Body Benefits Incorporating all these movement and mindfulness tools can help you manage the menopause transition with greater ease, says Vicario. “We are so excited to arm you with all this knowledge and these specific interventions and work with the body during this natural process,” she says. And she and the other experts tapped for this menopause series emphasize other lifestyle tweaks you can make for optimal overall mental and physical wellness. “Dehydration is more common during menopause, and without estrogen it’s a lot easier for our muscles, tendons, and ligaments to become dehydrated,” Giannelli says. “This can make weight training more difficult and even lead to injury. Hydration is key!” Vicario has a favorite way to stay hydrated. “We have our Recover 9 supplement that blends pomegranate fruit extract and 9 essential amino acid compounds to help speed your recovery, reduce soreness and inflammation, and build muscle,” she explains. “It’s my personal strategy for hydration and optimizing muscle gain after lifting!” What’s more, Giannelli says, it’s important to listen to your body’s cues. “Push yourself on the days you feel well and have more energy, but also be kind to yourself on the days you feel more tired,” she says. Nutrition is also important to feeling your best through menopause and beyond. “Making sure we get enough protein in our diet and choosing whole grains and complex carbohydrates (over simple sugars) will ensure that the energy and building blocks we need to maintain muscle mass are available to us,” she says. And as with most things in life, having the right mindset going into this phase of life can have a huge positive impact on your overall wellness. “Being brave and approaching menopause with an open mind is key,” Giannelli says. “We may not always be capable of doing all the things we did in our younger years, but we do have the chance to rediscover our changing bodies and explore all the new possibilities out there for us. When we view menopause through this lens, it becomes a period of opportunity.” Ready to get started with the workouts? Because everyone’s menopause journey and specific mix of symptoms are different, this program is designed for you to choose the classes that best work for you. That means there’s no prescribed path to follow in terms of what workouts to do on what days—but there are a few guidelines we recommend: To build muscle you want to lift heavy two to three times per week, alternated with two cardio and strength circuit classes. Mix in pelvic floor exercises to strengthen and release this key area and add in restorative classes to help lower cortisol. Get started with this Full Body Heavy Weight Training Workout for Improved Body Composition right now. Learn more and sign up today.
The pelvic floor is a bowl or sling-shaped group of skeletal muscles at the bottom of the pelvis. It plays an important role in supporting the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus and rectum in women. It also helps support the functions of these organs, specifically bowel, bladder and sexual function. In short, it’s pretty important! And keeping it strong can help maintain these functions and prevent things like pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence. How can a woman strengthen her pelvic floor? Consistent pelvic floor-focused workouts can help strengthen these muscles, but follow below for real-time engagement: Draw your lower abs in and contract your pelvic floor, and then go into your p.sit. This will help maintain good pelvic and lumbar alignment during class and help to take the stress off of your lower back so that you can perform the moves more effectively. How long does it take to strengthen the pelvic floor? Building pelvic floor strength depends on a variety of factors including fitness level and level of engagement. Focus on starting slow and increase intensity as you develop a deeper mind-body connection in workouts. Get started with three moves below: Pelvic Floor Exercise #1: Begin in an all fours position. Bend one elbow to the mat and lift the opposite side leg. Squeeze inner thighs on each return. Scoop in your core for full abdominal activation. Pelvic Floor Exercise #2: In an all-fours position, hover your knees above the mat. Load your weight towards your rear. Shift your weight forward, pressing through your legs and abdominals. Maintain a flat back by scooping in your core and pressing through the hands and toes. Squeeze your glutes to activate your pelvic floor. Pelvic Floor Exercise #3: With your p.ball on, tap your toe out and reach your arms overhead. Lift your foot and squeeze your p.ball while returning your arms to center. Feel the p.ball engaging with the pelvic floor on each squeeze. Reach your arms up high to activate your upper abdominals. How and why is it relevant to the Pvolve Method? The method involves core activation which includes the pelvic floor. Since your pelvic floor is involved in stabilizing your core, it is also important for maintaining good posture and form during your Pvolve workouts. How can I make sure I’m properly activating these areas? When you hear the trainers cue for the core, include your pelvic floor. Draw your lower abs in and contract your pelvic floor, and then go into your p.sit. This will help maintain good pelvic and lumbar alignment during class and help to take the stress off of your lower back so that you can perform the moves more effectively. What about kegels? A kegel is simply a pelvic floor contraction. If you are doing true isolated kegels, you should not be using your gluteals, abdominals or other hip or thigh muscles. You are tightening the muscles between the sit bones that run from pubic bone to tailbone. As stated above, you need to kegel WITH your abdominal activation and keep your breath moving for ALL core and abdominal work. Work on kegels alone, but include the kegel with your abdominal work. As always, Dr. Amy suggests starting slow and paying close attention to the tiny details in every Pvolve movement. "Pvolve offers many opportunities to engage your pelvic floor," she says. "Listen to when trainers cue for the core, and do this together with kegels!"
No matter your stage of life, there are changes – physically, hormonally, or otherwise – that can leave you with questions. Figuring out what is happening in your body and how to adjust your routines to account for these changes can be daunting. Perhaps one of the biggest and most well-known changes in a woman’s life happens during perimenopause and menopause, the time during which your body transitions to the end of your reproductive years. As metabolism slows and bone density begins to decline, the Pvolve Method can be especially helpful. Our resistance-based equipment and functional movements can help build muscle to keep your metabolism working optimally, support cardiovascular health, combat menopause belly, and maintain bone density. We tapped into our experts, Dr. Amy Hoover, Chief Physical Therapist and member of the Clinical Advisory Board and Antonietta Vicario, VP of Talent and Training, to learn more about what happens to our bodies during menopause, and how Pvolve can help. Q: What are some of the changes someone might experience when going through menopause? A: Dr. Amy: Menopause is defined as the time when a woman stops menstruating for 12 months. The time surrounding this, which can be several years, is called perimenopause. It is a normal and natural part of a woman’s life. The changing hormone levels during this time cause changes in our bodies. During this period women may experience a variety of symptoms, which vary woman to woman and vary in intensity. Some of the most common symptoms are hot flashes, sleep disturbance, constipation, mood changes, bladder changes, hair thinning, dry skin and vaginal dryness. Some of the other changes that occur may not necessarily cause symptoms but are things to be aware of which include loss of bone density, postural changes and loss of muscle mass. The good news is that we can help mitigate many of these symptoms and enhance quality of life with movement. Women in this age bracket may have a gradual loss of muscle mass and increased incidence of gluteal tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis and rotator cuff tendinopathy. Targeted hip, gluteal and abdominal/core strengthening as well as shoulder and postural exercises can help combat some of these gradual changes that occur as our hormone levels shift. Pelvic floor strengthening is essential to help the changing environment in the vaginal tissue due to lower levels of progesterone and estrogen surrounding menopause, which can affect pelvic organ support and function. Bone density loss is an important topic for perimenopause. Menopausal women should get bone density scans and monitor risk factors to ensure they are maintaining good bone health to help reduce risk of fracture. Weight bearing, plyometrics and higher resistance exercise is essential for maintaining and improving bone density and stimulating strong, healthy bones. Balance exercises are also essential to help maintain functional mobility and reduce fall risk. Q: How can Pvolve help someone who may be experiencing side-effects of menopause? A: Dr. Amy: Pvolve is a movement solution for women in this stage of life, because this method offers all categories of movement including strength training, cardiovascular, and recovery/flexibility. All the workouts incorporate mindful movement and connection to the body. The Pvolve method focuses on whole body strength, balance and mobility, with specific programming solutions for women in this stage of life. Movement and mindfulness go a long way to help reduce stress, and improve mood and sleep. Pvolve programs also offer specific solutions for women in this stage of life, including heavy weight training to maintain and build muscles, cardio for bone and heart health, and pelvic floor programming which may help with improved bowel and bladder function. Antonietta: Someone who is going through menopause will find value in focusing on strength training to counteract the 2% loss of muscle mass that women experience over 40, often amplified by the drop in estrogen which redistributes body fat and can cause weight gain throughout menopause. Muscle mass boosts one’s metabolism which in turn allows for more caloric burn at rest, and so maintaining and building muscle after 40 and during perimenopause and menopause can help counteract some of that weight gain. Spending time in weight-bearing positions like on all four’s and single leg balances can help stimulate bones which is important as menopause can create bone density loss. Single leg balances also help with building stability and strengthening the core, responsible for balance. As people age, stability becomes important to help prevent falls which can be more debilitating if bones are more brittle. Lastly, joint stiffness is often associated with menopause, so mobility exercises are important to keep your body moving with ease. Working the body through its full range of motion like we do at Pvolve is very beneficial for joint health overall. Q: What equipment and series would you recommend to someone going through menopause who wants to get started with Pvolve? A: Antonietta: If someone is new to Pvolve and going through menopause, we definitely advise starting off with equipment so they get the benefit of moving with resistance. Starting off with our Essentials Kit will give you the P.band, heavy ankle band, light ankle weights, P.ball and gliders which will all impact creating lean muscle on the body to keep one’s metabolism strong. This should be paired with purchasing heavy sets of weights that add load to drive muscle mass gains. You can pair the equipment with Moving With Menopause for optimal benefits by alternating through class types that support this phase in life, namely heavy weight training like Progressive Weight Training to build and maintain muscle, Cardio Burn to stimulate bone density through light impact and Recovery & Stretch to help reduce joint stiffness and improve mobility overall! Learn more and sign up today.
The more you start to work with your menstrual cycle, the more you’ll learn the ins and outs of each phase. Towards the end of the luteal phase, before the menstrual phase, many people experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). While these symptoms manifest differently in every body, they tend to be inflammatory responses—bloating, cramping, headaches, tiredness, and feelings of depression, moodiness, or irritability. The mere thought of working out might be too strenuous during times of PMS or PMDD symptoms. But once you get a better sense of your own phases, you can work with them more effectively, too. P.volve trainers Alexia Acebo, Maeve McEwan and Antonietta Vicario talk below about how to think about movement and exercise when you’re dealing with PMS or PMDD. Exercise and PMS Symptoms “The more that you cultivate the skill of understanding your body, working with your hormones, really not overdoing it, allowing that rest, allowing that recovery, [you might find] that you are able to manage PMS with so much more ease,” says Antonietta. Gentler exercises are one way of honoring your body’s need to rest and recover, but the way you eat and sleep will also support this part of your cycle. In Phase & Function, the workouts at the end of the luteal phase are designed to wring out your body with reaches and rotations to promote circulation, which can help you feel good whether or not you have PMS symptoms. PMS and exercise fatigue It’s important to give yourself the grace to listen to your body and know when not to workout. When you’re forcing a workout, hormones like cortisol and adrenaline start spiking, says Antonietta. That’s where the mind-body connection comes in—if your body isn’t feeling good, and you judge yourself for not feeling good, you can actually make yourself feel worse. “If we were just more gentle and kind and generous to ourselves, maybe then we would be managing and not creating this undue stress, which is leading to inflammation,” says Antonietta. As you move through your cycle, you’ll experience energy shifts that may affect your exercise routine. In the first half, you have energy to spend, but after ovulation, you start winding down. The bloating, cramping, and joint aches are all inflammation, and learning what works for you is part of the journey. A workout program to help manage PMS For more on how to work with your menstrual cycle to help manage PMS and PMDD, check out our new exercise program Phase & Function. You’ll receive a personalized plan with phase-specific workouts, meal plans, and mindset shifts that work with each phase of your cycle.
Has this ever happened to you? You do your favorite Cardio Burn class one week, and you feel amazing. You’re strong, you’re powerful, you’re flooded with endorphins after. You’re psyched to do the same class again at the same time next week, but… it’s like you’ve lost your energy level mojo. You feel sluggish, like you can barely do the class, even though you swear you were crushing it just the week before. What gives? The answer may lie in where you are in your menstrual cycle. Learn more from our experts before reading on. Stages of the menstrual cycle When we talk about cycles that the body goes through, most people know about circadian rhythm—a cycle that lasts about a day. But the body also has infradian rhythms, meaning, cycles that last longer than a day. One of the body’s infradian rhythms is the menstrual cycle, which breaks down into four phases: the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulatory phase, and luteal phase. Energy levels during your cycle At different times in your cycle, your body will have a different capacity for what it can do. The Pvolve Method has a workout for every stage of your cycle, some days, you’ll feel geared up for an intense Cardio Burn class while others you'll be aching for a Recover & Stretch class. Ideal menstrual cycle workouts The more you work with your body’s internal rhythms, the more you’ll be able to figure out what your body needs, and learn how to give yourself permission to listen to those cues. That’s what Antonietta sees as one of the big takeaways. “[Energy] ebbs and flows, so allowing time for that recuperative, restorative time for yourself [is important]. It’s really about this holistic picture of what you need, because it’s not just one thing,” says Vicario. What does exercise do to your menstrual cycle? We turned to our experts Alexia Acebo, Contributing Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Maeve McEwen, Director of Programming & Head Trainer and Antonietta Vicario, Chief Training Officer to break down how to work with your cycle to cultivate a better fitness routine. The Menstrual Phase The menstrual phase is when the uterine lining is shed, AKA your period, which usually lasts from days one to six of your cycle. At this point, hormones are at their lowest. How this manifests looks different for everyone—you might have cramps, you might not—but Maeve says that no matter how your body responds, the menstrual phase is a time to connect mindset to movement. “This is your chance to really release and get rid of anything that’s not serving you,” says Maeve. Exercise in this phase looks like gentle movement: spinal rotations and subtle ab activation that can speak to lower back pain, a common complaint during the menstrual phase. Try a Recover & Stretch class to lean into that reflective, restorative energy. The Follicular Phase Once the uterine lining has been shed and hormones start to rise, your body moves into the follicular phase, usually lasting from days seven to 12. You’ve got energy to spare—this time is like an internal spring. Hormones are rising and there’s newness in the body, so this is a great time to connect with that increase in energy with regular exercise. For this phase, Alexia recommends Cardio Burn classes. “It is a time where, if you want to move with friends, it’s great, if you want to try something new… maybe that’s a great time to try it,” Alexia says. Since Phase and Function is designed to mimic every facet of your life, Alexia recommends using the energy in the follicular phase to focus not just on fitness goals, but on career and relationship goals, too. For Maeve, that’s what makes the program so unique. “It’s not just about the workout, it’s about your entire life, and overall health and wellness,” Maeve says. The Ovulatory Phase Ovulation is when the ovaries release an egg to be fertilized. It lasts one day, but for Phase and Function, it’s treated as about a week-long phase, around days 13 to 16. All sorts of processes are happening in the body in preparation for releasing an egg. There’s a spike in testosterone, and this can make you feel like grabbing life by the balls—or in this case, by the ovaries. That’s why Pvolve introduced Cardio Burn circuits. Think: a condensed Cardio Burn class, using the framing of functional movement, that’s low-impact and super high-intensity exercise. Since every body is different, there are other options for the ovulatory phase, like more intense Strength & Sculpt classes. The Luteal Phase As the body gears up to shed the uterine lining again, it moves into the luteal phase, which lasts from approximately day 17 to 28. Think of this as your internal autumn, with a rise in estrogen and progesterone. You’ll want to be aware of inflammatory responses in this phase as you are exercising and get into potential PMS territory. From a movement perspective, you can stay with the Cardio Burn and Strength & Sculpt classes, and use Recover & Stretch as inflammation flares up. The way you move can have a direct impact on inflammation, so the goal is to not encourage any more than there already is with heightened stress or spikes in cortisol. “Know that this is a process and this takes time,” says Alexia. “You’re not going to know you’re entire cycle in a day, it’s just about building awareness. A menstrual cycle workout program for better energy For more on how to work with your menstrual cycle to optimize your fitness goals and overall wellbeing, check out the Phase & Function menstrual phase-syncing workout program. You’ll receive a personalized plan with phase-specific workouts, meal plans and mindset shifts that work with each phase of your cycle.
Your menstrual cycle, like most things, is not one dimensional. It requires that you work with it in all ways, including in the kitchen. And when you focus on eating the right foods at the right time of the month, you’ll be able to see endless benefits: less PMS, more energy, better mood and so much more. This Q&A with Registered Dietician Vanessa Rissetto addresses all the benefits of a menstrual cycle diet and how the Pvolve Method and Phase & Function help guide what’s on your plate throughout every phase of your cycle. Table of Contents Menstrual Cycle Diet Tips How to Eat for Each Stage of Your Menstrual Cycle Foods to Eat During the Menstrual Phase Foods to Eat During the Follicular Phase Foods to Eat During the Ovulatory Phase Foods to Eat During the Luteal Phase Menstrual Cycle Diet Tips Q: Let's start at the beginning: How are food and hormones connected? A: Food affects how hormones are secreted. For example, overeating sugar will cause a release of insulin and perhaps an over production which, if constant, can lead to weight gain. Q: Why is it important to eat according to your cycle? A: Eating according to your cycle can help to mitigate symptoms that cause bloating, discomfort, fatigue and distress. The magic of Phase & Function is that it helps you navigate your cycle and eat foods that can help nourish you and give you energy during a time when many women don't necessarily feel their best. Q: How come so many women don't know about the benefits of eating according to your cycle? A: Likely because women don't often complain. I find that women are superheroes and take a lot in stride. I hear stories of women telling their doctors about symptoms and are often told “it is what it is”. We normalize feeling bad and that shouldn't be the case. How to eat for each stage of your menstrual cycle Q: If someone were to make one small nutritional change that has the biggest impact, what would you recommend? A: Try not to make big changes all at once. Small changes can have long lasting effects and help you feel motivated. If you drink juice everyday, try every other day, and once you can do that, build upon it. Q: Can you still eat according to your cycle if you have dietary restrictions or follow another diet? A: Of course! First off, this is a guide—it's loaded with science, ideas and behavior changes. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest. This program is personalized for you. You know your body best. Q: How does movement play a role in eating for your cycle, and why is doing both so important? A: When we exercise we deplete the muscles of glycogen which naturally brings our hunger levels up. Moving in a way that works best for you and how you feel is key, while also making sure you are nourishing yourself and repleting what you need. Q: What is the connection between the two? A: Never try to restrict yourself because you've eaten something you don't deem as "good". We want to honor our food choices and our movement choices. It's the best way for us to have success. Q: What's the biggest misconception about cravings and PMS? (Also, should we really eat chocolate on our periods?) A: Of course you can eat chocolate during your period! If you're following Phase & Function, you'll see that certain foods can help you feel better throughout the phases and also be more understanding of your cravings which will help you navigate the best options for you. Foods to eat during the menstrual phase During your bleed, foods should help mitigate inflammation, replenish nutrients and encourage balance as your hormones reach their lowest levels. Each meal should include a protein to get you sufficient amino acids necessary for hormone production. Focus on energizing carbs, healthy fats and low glycemic fruits and veggies. You might find that you’re craving more warm foods like soups and stews this week. As always, pay attention to your appetite. You may feel less hungry, but it’s still important to properly fuel. Foods to eat during the follicular phase After your bleed, prioritize foods that match the energy of your rising hormone levels. Estrogen and insulin sensitivity are increasing, so keep fueling with carbohydrate-forward foods (grains, potatoes, fruit) while your body is able to utilize them properly and maintain blood sugar stability. Fresh, steamed and sautéed ingredients will feel best during this phase. It’s also crucial to support gut health with fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi and detox the body with cruciferous greens like broccoli. Foods to eat during the ovulatory phase During ovulation, be sure to eat foods that set you up for success as energy and workout intensity hits its peak. As estrogen drops after ovulation and progesterone begins to rise, so will insulin resistance which means your body is less able to metabolize carbohydrates well. Replace some of those simple carbohydrates from the follicular phase with healthy fat such as fatty fish, nuts and seeds. Make sure you take in enough nutrients for workout recovery here, especially protein. Focusing on non-starchy carbohydrates like veggies and lean protein are great for weight loss if that’s a goal. As always, keep that water bottle nearby and prioritize hydration. Foods to eat during the luteal phase Prioritize foods that satisfy cravings and provide essential nutrients to prepare the body for what’s to come with the menstrual phase. As progesterone continues its rise, continue to focus on fat for fuel, giving the body what it can use best and setting yourself up for fewer PMS symptoms and a cramp-free period. Listen to what your body is asking for, like magnesium-rich foods. Focus on sweet root vegetables and healthy fats to curb the desire for sugary desserts. If you have a sweet tooth, try some dark chocolate and a couple of dates and see how satisfied you feel.
Month after month, 75% of people with periods suffer from PMS symptoms. That’s 63 million people dealing with unwanted cramps, mood swings, fatigue and so much more. And despite it all, we’re conditioned to work against our bodies — to ignore the negative thoughts, eat the wrong foods and force the wrong workouts throughout the month, causing more harm than good. It's time to flip the script on all of that with Phase & Function, the series that matches your movement and mindset to the ebb and flow of your menstrual cycle and hormones. In this series, you’ll learn how to pair your body's own power with the Pvolve Method to impact how you feel and act each month by learning how to give your body what it needs, when it needs it. This groundbreaking, clinically backed approach was designed to reduce PMS symptoms, help with weight loss, improve energy, and offer phase-specific mindset shifts for better productivity, communication, relationships and personal development. Learn more about how Phase & Function will help you take control of your body and optimize the way that you live. Get to know the phases of your cycle During every menstrual cycle, your body undergoes hormonal shifts characterized by four distinct phases: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal. Each phase calls for different workout formats, levels of intensity and durations, as well as specific approaches to nutrition and mindset according to the balance of hormones present. No matter what phase you’re in, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and tools to work with your body to look better, feel better and move better in everyday life. We've based the below timing on a 28-day cycle, but everyone's cycle is unique. Use these timeframes as a guide to keep track of your phases: Menstrual: 4-7 days Follicular: 7-10 days Ovulatory: 3-5 daysLuteal: 10-14 days Your energy levels are the biggest indicator for a change in phase, so look out for subtle shifts and allow your workouts to match how you feel. Menstrual Phase: You're on your period. Prepare to take a pause, move gently and eat to replenish your body with the nutrients that are lost during your bleed. Follicular Phase: Get ready to match your hormone shift with max creativity, faster-paced movements and fresh, vibrant eats. Ovulatory Phase: Time to amp it all up! Take advantage of your max estrogen levels by speaking up, challenging your body and fueling for detoxification. Luteal Phase: Lean into the progesterone high of this phase with an organized mind, shorter workouts and satisfying, nutrient-dense foods. Meet the experts Phase & Function was created by our team of expert trainers in conjunction with members of our Clinical Advisory Board. Each brings their expertise to one—or more—of the three areas of focus for our holistic approach: mind (to find the best way to approach your career, sex and more), movement (to optimize your body’s energy and strength at every phase) and meals (to properly fuel your body according to your hormone fluctuations.) Antonietta Vicario, Chief Training Officer Antonietta Vicario brings 15 years of movement experience to Phase & Function. Her breadth and scope of certifications in all movement modalities including Pilates Mat, Yoga, Pre and Post Natal, and the Gray Institute, inform all of Vicario's workouts, bringing movement science and a deep embodied knowledge forward into her teachings. “Phase & Function is a gamechanger! Being able to track and follow workouts, meals and mindfulness recommendations that sync with my cycle has helped me understand my body, work more in tune with it, and ultimately feel more energized in my day to day!” Maeve McEwen, Lead Trainer Maeve McEwen uses movement as a tool for self-empowerment and discovery. As a NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist, Maeve was integral in working with the team to create workouts that strengthen and enhance the body's needs within all four phases of the menstrual cycle. “Understanding how the natural hormonal fluctuations can affect my energy levels, appetite and mood, Phase & Function has given me the tools to make choices that support and build up my body throughout the four different phases of my menstrual cycle.” Alexia Acebo, Contributing Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Alexia Acebo uses food as the foundation to create a holistic plan based on what will work best for your body and your life. She paired her functional outlook on mindset, movement, and meals with our expert adviser Vanessa and Dr. Tewari to offer the best recommendations for all four phases of the menstrual cycle. “This series gets rid of the confusion around the best moves, the best mindset, and the best meals to achieve your goals. Instead, you’ll find out what’s uniquely best for you- to decrease PMS symptoms, effortlessly lose and maintain weight, and learn the guidance YOUR body has always had to offer.” Vanessa Rissetto, MS, RD, CDN, Registered Dietician Vanessa Rissetto is a nutritionist and registered dietician who worked with Alexia to develop the entire nutrition portion of Phase & Function, ensuring that every ingredient and meal works for each of the four phases. She has a Master’s in Nutrition from New York University and specializes in bariatric surgery, parenteral and eternal nutrition, adult weight management and infectious disease. “To properly fuel your body in accordance with your hormones, we worked to develop phase-specific food lists and recipes. We curated nutritional options that complement the workouts in an innovative way to create one home for an empowered period.” Dr. Suman Tewari, MD, OB-GYN Dr. Tewari is an obstetrician-gynecologist who worked closely with our team of experts and trainers to ensure all workouts match the ebb and flow of your hormones in any given phase. Dr. Tewari has over 20 years of experience in the medical field and functional medicine. She specializes in helping women balance hormones, hot flashes, sexual pain, breast health, uterine disorders and related conditions. “Focusing on your mind, the program will teach participants how to take advantage of hormone fluctuations throughout the month and find the best ways to approach external factors such as careers, relationships, sex, and more.”
Want to optimize the way you move, eat and think? It all starts with learning how to track your cycle and understanding how the timing of your period is the gateway to taking control of your body and your life. Knowing the phases of your cycle—and the information each provides—will allow you to capitalize on all that your body has to offer, from making the most of the Pvolve Method and your work outs to proper nutrition and how to tackle real-life scenarios when you’re best equipped to handle them. What are the different phases of the menstrual cycle? Menstrual Phase: During menstruation, you’ll want to match your low hormone levels by taking a pause, moving gentle and eating to replenish your body. Follicular Phase: After menstruation, you’re primed to match your hormone shift with max creativity, faster-paced movements and fresh, vibrant eats. Ovulatory Phase: Time to amp it all up! Take advantage of your max estrogen levels during ovulation by speaking up, challenging your body and refueling properly. Luteal Phase: In the luteal phase, get ready to lean into the progesterone high of this phase with an organized mind, shorter workouts and satisfying, nutrient-dense foods. How long does each phase of your cycle last? Each phase is unique to the individual, depending on the length of your period and overall cycle. Your Phase & Function plan may look a bit different from someone else’s based on your personal info. Know that no calculation or algorithm will be 100% perfect and listening to your body and using the provided guidance is always the best indicator of shifting from one phase to the next. We've based the below timing on a 28-day cycle, but everyone's cycle is unique. Use these timeframes as a guide to keep track of your phases: Menstrual: 4-7 days Follicular: 7-10 days Ovulatory: 3-5 days Luteal: 10-14 days How do you know when you’re in a new phase of your menstrual cycle? Your energy levels will be the biggest indicator here, so look out for subtle shifts and allow your workouts to match how you feel. Using the structure and guidance of Phase & Function will serve you in moving from one phase to the next, but soon you’ll realize that you’re simply giving your body the space and time to move with these shifts instead of fighting against them. When your period begins at the start of your menstrual phase, you may feel more fatigue and crave slower, restorative movement. As your period ends and you move into the follicular phase, you may feel more energy rising, have a more positive outlook, and want to try new things. Next, the ovulatory phase is the height of your energy throughout the cycle, so you may feel slightly more confident, and ready to tackle a harder, sweatier, faster, and more intense workout. And finally, the luteal phase is characterized by PMS, fatigue, and mood swings—but not for long. We’ll match that decrease in energy with workouts of the same intensity. How will tracking your cycle help you achieve personalized results? The magic of Phase & Function is that it's tailored to your individual cycle and gives you every resource to set yourself up for success. By learning the ins and outs of your hormones, you’ll learn how powerful syncing with your menstrual cycle can be for your mind, body and life.
According to endometriosis.org, 1 in 10 women suffer from this disease during their reproductive years. That’s approximately 176 million people worldwide dealing with pain and, presumably, looking for a bit of relief in their everyday lives. Dr. Tewari, Pvolve’s Doctor of Gynecology and member of the Clinical Advisory Board, takes a holistic approach to gynecology that goes far beyond looking at a chart to understand what our bodies need. Here, she’s offering insight into the difficulties of endometriosis and all that it brings. Below, she explains more about endometriosis and how integrating Pvolve into your everyday wellness routine may help manage symptoms. What is endometriosis? Medically speaking, it’s the endometrium (the lining inside the uterus that sheds when you have a period) growing outside of the uterus. This out-of-place tissue will grow—in response to hormonal changes just as it does inside the uterus—after you menstruate, resulting in pain and discomfort. It also results in local inflammation, which leads to further discomfort. How does someone know they have endometriosis? Typically, painful periods are the most prominent symptom. Mild cramping and pain with periods are common. However, if you’re having to reach for medication during every period, then it’s worth getting checked out. Women with infertility issues, chronic pelvic pain, or irregular menstrual cycles are at increased risk for having endometriosis. If you’re having painful periods, especially when young, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have endometriosis. About 6-10% of the general population have endometriosis. However, among women dealing with infertility and chronic pelvic pain, the incidence for endometriosis is much higher—about 50% of these women have endometriosis. So, how can someone differentiate between painful periods and endometriosis? Painful periods will usually respond to treatment with pain meds like ibuprofen or Motrin. However, endometriosis pain often will require more pain meds and hormonal treatment. It’s not always easy to tell them apart. Typically, younger women suffer from endometriosis. It’s not usually picked up until late teens or 20s, or sometimes, 30s. When you start your period in early teens, your system is still regulating. It takes a few years for the hormonal system to become established, when the communication between the ovaries and the brain is normal in function, and this is reflected in a regular monthly period. How is endometriosis diagnosed? There aren’t any definitive tests available for endometriosis, but a clinical diagnosis can be made based on history. A definitive diagnosis can be done, however, through surgery. The surgery is called laparoscopy. A gynecologist looks inside your belly into the pelvis and takes a biopsy of tissue that looks like it could be endometriosis. But since surgery has its own risks, the first thing to do if you suspect you have endometriosis is a treatment trial with birth control pills. Your doctor will prescribe enough hormones so that it overrides your natural hormonal cycle, and this often will improve or alleviate symptoms. At this point, you may be given the presumptive diagnosis of endometriosis. However, if you don’t respond to hormonal treatment, then surgery is recommended for evaluation and diagnosis. Why is a well-rounded lifestyle important for someone endometriosis? Exercise is so important – more now than ever – because we just don’t move our bodies enough. Making exercise a priority is an investment in YOU. This is true for everyone, but those that actually have pain and discomfort will benefit even more from it. Exercise improves circulation, delivering nutrients to the tissues and cells, and removing the toxins by improving function of the organs. Movement is needed to mobilize the lymphatic system, which is our body’s own waste removal service. Poor lymph circulation results in inflammation. Endometriosis is an inflamed state. When you exercise, endorphins are released and help reduce inflammation. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. And in terms of nutrition, you have to think of your food intake as your interaction with the environment. There are many endocrine disruptors in the environment, and these things could be messing with your natural hormonal rhythm, even for those who aren’t dealing with endometriosis. It is ideal to be on an anti-inflammatory diet and one that promotes healthy hormone metabolism. I believe that if we replete our body with the nutrients needed, then it will be able to function properly. Thus, I offer to do gut and nutritional health evaluations for the women in my practice, so that we can replete the specific nutrients their body needs. Is exercise typically prescribed for those with endometriosis? Most patients, and probably some practitioners, don’t see movement as a means of managing symptoms. I definitely always prescribe movement—it is a natural way to decrease pain, inflammation, and improve function of the body. I believe hydration and exercise aid the body in being able to detoxify and remove the toxins. Exercise is not just to help get the weight off (which it does do), but it also helps with improving energy levels, sleeping better, stressing less, and strengthening the immune system. It has a positive impact on our whole body and mind. I tell everyone that comes to me for help, that it’s not the same prescription for everyone with a similar problem. There may be some patterns and things that I’ve found work for many women, but you’re still unique and we need to figure out what will work best for you and create a program that will meet your needs. How can Pvolve help manage endometriosis symptoms? Those with endometriosis especially need to think of their routine in a holistic way, and have movement, meals, and mindset work together as one. The Pvolve Method is designed with movements that works with your body, and includes a variety of classes to choose from based on what’s happening on any given day. Ultimately, we all need to be listening to our bodies. If we’re in pain, we shouldn’t overwork ourselves. If stretching seems like the only possibility, go with that. If you have energy to burn, that’s the time for a Cardio Burn class. It’s all about following what your body is telling you, and timing that with your cycle as much as possible. The goal is to be in total sync with your own menstrual cycle. Aside from the workout choices, I’m so drawn to Pvolve’s emphasis on body awareness. It’s not just about movement. It’s about being present in the moment and honing in on the right muscles to actually feel what’s happening in your body. The method demands this sort of focus and allows you to build the neuronal pathways we all need. When you’re in-tune with your body in this way, you’ll hear it whisper things to you—things that don’t feel right, aren’t working—and then you can do something about it. Endometriosis, like so many diseases, doesn’t just happen overnight. There is something happening beforehand that led to this. Now, you can choose to be present, work with your body, listen to those whispers, and work your way back to optimal health. MEET DR. TEWARI Dr. Suman Tewari is an obstetrician-gynecologist in Ann Arbor, MI. She has over 20 years of experience in the medical field and has done additional functional medicine training. Dr. Tewari specializes in helping women with gynecologic issues and restoring optimal wellness by addressing nutritional imbalances.
No matter what you call your period, you know that it comes with ups and downs, unexpected surprises and a whole lot of unanswered questions. There is so much to know when it comes to menstruation and movement. We get the dread and lack of motivation that often arrives at the same time as your period, but we're here to help you turn it all around with your workouts. Q: How can working out during your period help alleviate cramps and pains? This may come as a shock but it all boils down to blood flow. Exercising during your period increases circulation and gets things moving that would otherwise remain stagnant and exacerbate those dreaded, painful PMS symptoms so many of us experience. This is all caused by an inflammatory response (and why Midol and other pain relievers are a first line of defense against this....) but the low-impact movement can also be a great tool in alleviating that inflammation without introducing anything potentially harmful into your body. Q: How can working out during your period help with bloating? Like painful PMS symptoms, bloating can turn your world upside down. You can’t button your jeans, nothing looks appetizing, and you feel like you have hooked yourself up to the garden hose at full power with no end in sight. (Maybe that’s dramatic, but there are many points on this spectrum!) Similar to its ability to alleviate pain, movement can also help reduce bloating. Getting things moving is the name of the game but our minds also play a part. Some say when you feel good, you look good—so get a little sweaty and an extra dose of endorphins and kiss that bloat goodbye. And don't forget to stay hydrated during your period and avoid processed foods high in sodium that can exacerbate bloating. Exercise and nutrition work hand-in-hand against unwanted PMS symptoms. Q: How can working out during your period help with PMS or moodiness? Endorphins. Research on the relationship between exercise and mood continues to show that exercise alleviates negative as well as enhances positive mood states, and we can all attest to that post-Pvolve high. So, take advantage of our PMS prescription and move your body! Q: Why is the Pvolve Method, in particular, beneficial in treating these issues? The Pvolve Method is beneficial in alleviating these dreaded monthly visitors because it works with your body instead of against it. We’ve all been through seasons of time where stress has been a factor in our lives and our period (and the symptoms) are affected because of that stress. If you stress the body in how you approach your workouts, you could potentially have similar, negative effects on your period. By engaging in high-intensity, low-impact exercise, you get to bolster the body, move in a way that comes naturally, build mind-body connection, and maybe even move toward your goals at the same time. Listen to your body and what kind of movement it's craving, and we promise we have a class for you — from cardio to recovery. Our Phase & Function program is the perfect place to start.
Hot flashes, body aches, mood swings, weight gain. These are the things we hear about menopause. It's no wonder so many women have dread, despair and stress around this time in their life. What we don't talk about, however, is all the opportunity women have at this time—to move better, get stronger and turn over a new leaf to complete mind-body connection. It's important that we talk about menopause openly every day, so Antonietta Vicario, VP of Talent and Training and Dr. Amy Hoover, Chief Physical Therapist and member of the Clinical Advisory Board dive into menopause and movement. 1. Understand what your body is going through. Menopause is defined as the time when a woman stops menstruating for 12 months. The time surrounding this, which can be several years, is called perimenopause. It is a normal and natural part of a woman’s life. The changing hormone levels during this time cause changes in our bodies. During this period women may experience a variety of symptoms, which vary woman to woman and vary in intensity. Some of the most common symptoms are hot flashes, sleep disturbance, constipation, mood changes, bladder changes and vaginal dryness. Some of the other changes that occur may not necessarily cause symptoms, but are things to be aware of which include loss of bone density, postural changes and loss of muscle mass. The good news is that the Pvolve Method can help mitigate many of these symptoms and enhance quality of life. 2. Adapt to the changes It's a common misconception that there is nothing to do about these changes. On the contrary, movement and mindfulness are essential for women in this stage of life as it ties into all aspects of wellness in this population including weight management, cardiovascular health, stress reduction, improved sleep and brain health. Proper nutrition is also essential, as what we eat has a profound effect on how we feel and how our body functions. Symptoms of menopause, like so many other aspects of life and health, can be improved with three things: nutrition, movement, and mindset. 3. Make way for a new kind of movement. Women in this age bracket have gradual loss of muscle mass and increased incidence of gluteal tendinopathy (constant pain near the side of the hip), plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and rotator cuff tendinopathy (pain and inflammation near the shoulder.) Targeted hip, gluteal and abdominal/core strengthening as well as shoulder and postural exercises can help combat some of these gradual changes that occur as our hormone levels shift. Additionally, this is the time in life where women really need to integrate heavy weight training to combat the loss of muscle mass. Leveraging our Progressive Weight Training classes will offset loss in muscle mass and body composition changes to keep one’s metabolism optimized. Pelvic floor strengthening is also essential to help the changing environment in the vaginal tissue due to lower levels of progesterone and estrogen surrounding menopause, which can affect pelvic organ support and function. Bone density loss is an important topic for perimenopause. Menopausal women should get bone density scans and monitor risk factors to ensure they are maintaining good bone health to help reduce risk of fracture. Cardiovascular, weight bearing and higher resistance exercise is essential for maintaining and improving bone density and stimulating strong, healthy bones. Balance exercises are also essential to help maintain functional mobility and reduce fall risk. 4. Add resistance—the right way! While mobility, stability and strengthening are a main part of the Pvolve methodology, women in this group will benefit most with equipment that adds resistance such as heavy and light hand weights, the p.band, p.ball, heavy ankle band, and light ankle band. These Pvolve programs were created with menopausal and post-menopausal women in mind and are recommended to help mitigate some of the symptoms you may be feeling: Moving with Menopause: This collection of classes created in partnership with Elektra Health features a mix of workouts, mindfulness and restorative classes, and educational talks to help better manage symptoms you may experience throughout menopause. In this ground-breaking series, we help mitigate body composition changes, brain fog, bone density and muscle mass loss, sleep problems, fatigue, and more while empowering you with the knowledge to understand what your body needs along the way. Pelvic Floor Strengthening: This one is for pelvic floor strengthening. The first workout in the series will help women identify what and where the pelvic floor muscles are and how to use them. From there, the series builds in intensity so that women discover how to use their pelvic floor in other programs on the streaming platform. 5. Be patient and kind to yourself. Embracing the changes in your body and working with your body during this phase can not only improve your symptoms but improve your quality of life. Understanding the changes to your body and empowering yourself with a plan to meet your health goals will set you up for success as you move into this phase of life. Proper nutrition, self care and appropriate movement programs are excellent tools to improve and maintain your lifestyle goals. MEET THE EXPERTS ANTONIETTA VICARIO Pvolve Trainer & VP of Talent and Training Antonietta Vicario is a mover and educator, a mother, and a lover of life among many other things! Currently the Vice President of Talent and Training for Pvolve, Antonietta specializes in recruiting, training, and program development. She is in love with teaching the Pvolve Method, integrating functional training into a high-intensity, low-impact workout. DR. AMY HOOVER Dr. Amy Hoover is Pvolve’s Chief Physical Therapist, member of the Clinical Advisory Board, and the owner and operator of APHysio LLC, wellness practice that specializes in manual therapy, pre and post-natal care, pelvic floor disorders and more. Here at Pvolve, she’s able to share her expertise directly with our community as it applies to the method and its impact on the body. Learn more and sign up today.
There are so many unanswered questions and awkward taboos about what happens in the bedroom, but there shouldn't be any of that when pain is involved. Painful sex can happen for any number of reasons—the connection with your partner, a tight pelvic floor or perhaps stress and emotions. The good news is that there are ways to help, and Sex and Relationship Therapist Dr. Carli Blau is here to answer some top questions. What’s the connection between the pelvic floor and painful sex? If the pelvic floor is inflamed or tight it can cause physical discomfort during sexual activity, foreplay and even sexual intercourse. Sometimes women even experience nerve pain from pelvic floor dysfunction that can impact that vestibule (entrance of the vagina) or other areas of the vagina and vulva. How can women having painful sex begin to incorporate pelvic floor exercises into their routine? If you are experiencing pelvic pain, or pain in or around your vagina I would suggest seeing an OB/GYN and a pelvic floor therapist for a comprehensive exam to determine the cause of your pain. This is particularly important to do prior to incorporating pelvic floor exercises from the Pvolve Method as they can exacerbate painful symptoms. What can women do during sex to help with this pain? Many women (and men too, because men also experience pelvic floor dysfunction!) who experience painful sex often go to pelvic floor physical therapy. Sex therapy can be a great option too. Sex therapy is talk-only psychotherapy focused on understanding a persons experience with sex. Sex is more than just a physical experience; it is a full body experience that incorporates the mind! While physical parts of the body may be worked on in physical therapy, the mental and emotional parts are left behind. Oftentimes when sex is painful due to a medical condition, people can develop a fear to engage in sexual activity. This fear is more than just physical; it's psychological and often about control, not just the physical pain. Is it true that sex shouldn’t hurt, and if it does, something is wrong? I always tell clients, sex isn’t always comfortable, but that doesn’t always mean if it is occasionally painful that something is wrong. If you’re bleeding every time you have sex, or if it is painful every time, it is important to see a doctor for a proper evaluation. However, if sex sometimes hurts, it could be as simple as a lack of lubrication, a tight pelvic floor, stress and tension or even just penetration that was too deep. If you aren’t lubricated or relaxed enough, sex can be incredibly uncomfortable and that does not mean something is wrong. It simply means you may just need a great lube and a few deep breaths. Lubrication is so incredibly important, and yet something not discussed enough. Often women tell their doctors about pain related to sexual contact but do not discuss the types of sexual activity or positions with their doctor. It is unfortunate, but most doctors are not taught more than basic sex education in their training to become medical providers. I hope that as we continue to grow and develop more programs that we begin to incorporate more than sex education based in biology, but one that creates comfort for providers to discuss sex related issues and experiences with their patients. Why can sex be painful after you haven’t done it in a while? If you work out for the first time in months, or have never worked out and then begin, you are going to be sore. It is the same thing with sex. The vagina and pelvic floor are parts of the body made up of muscles and tissue that can become uncomfortable when penetrated for the first time in a long time. It may not even hurt during the sexual contact when endorphins and dopamine are released in the brain due to pleasure, but may be uncomfortable afterward. This is a great example of why sometimes discomfort doesn’t mean something is wrong! If you haven’t done Pvolve in a month, and then did a work out you’d probably be sore… think of it the same way! MORE ABOUT CARLI: Dr. Carli Blau, LMSW, M.Ed., M.A., Ph.D. in Clinical Sex Therapy, is a Licensed Sex and Relationship Therapist who specializes in women’s health including infertility, endometriosis, and PCOS. She is certified in Maternal Mental Health, received her Master’s of Social Work from Columbia University, a Master of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Clinical Sex Therapy studying infertility and sexual esteem in women trying to conceive.
There are so many question marks surrounding the female orgasm, so we're here to talk about one of the biggest factors in it actually happening: your pelvic floor. Of course, there are so many other elements that help you reach climax—your partner, foreplay, stimulation—but it's your pelvic floor muscles that can make or break the Big O. Sex & Relationship Therapist Carli Blau, LCSW, breaks it down once and for all. 1. YOUR PELVIC FLOOR AND YOUR ORGASM ARE CLOSELY LINKED. When an orgasm occurs, there is a uterine contraction, and then the muscles around the pelvic floor contract. That’s why your body may jerk or move in a quick way when it happens – the muscles tense when the orgasm occurs. 2. YOUR PELVIC FLOOR CAN BE WHAT'S PREVENTING YOU FROM HAVING AN ORGASM If the pelvic floor is too tight, there might not so much to contract because the muscles are so tight already. If the pelvic floor is too loose, on the other hand, it might be difficult to feel an orgasm. Tightening it might help it feel more profound. 3. YOUR WORKOUTS MAY BE OVER-STRENGTHENING YOUR PELVIC FLOOR. If you have never had your pelvic floor evaluated, you may not know if your pelvic floor is normal, hypertonic or hypotonic, and therefore, you may not know what workouts are best for you. For someone with a hypertonic pelvic floor, core and pelvic floor muscles may be so tight that they aren’t able to achieve an intense orgasm, or one at all. If part of the orgasmic pleasure is from the muscle contractions, one can imagine without these contractions, an orgasm may feel less intense. The Pvolve Method is great because you can use your equipment to do a well-balanced, full-body workout. If your pelvic floor is hypertonic, there are other ways to utilize Pvolve equipment to strengthen your arms and the rest of your body. That way, you’re not increasing your pelvic floor strength, but rather strengthening other important parts of your body. You can also tap into the mindfulness and breathwork classes to release the tension in your pelvic floor. 4. BUT, YOUR WORKOUTS CAN ALSO HELP STRENGTHEN YOUR PELVIC FLOOR IF NEEDED. Someone with a hypotonic pelvic floor may want to exercise and tighten their pelvic floor and core. That's where our Pelvic Floor Strengthening Program can help. In this six-part series, trainer Alexia Acebo and Dr. Amy Hoover, Chief Physical Therapist and member of the Clinical Advisory Board, provide step-by-step instruction on how to engage your pelvic floor—starting with gentle breath work and moving into more intense movements with equipment. MORE ABOUT CARLI: Dr. Carli Blau, LMSW, M.Ed., M.A., Ph.D. in Clinical Sex Therapy, is a Licensed Sex and Relationship Therapist who specializes in women’s health including infertility, endometriosis, and PCOS. She is certified in Maternal Mental Health, received her Master’s of Social Work from Columbia University, a Master of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Clinical Sex Therapy studying infertility and sexual esteem in women trying to conceive.
Your pelvic floor—just like your arms, abs and glutes—can be strengthened and weakened with exercise and everyday activity. But just how much attention should you give to making this essential muscle group as strong as can be? Two of our experts, Sex and Relationship Therapist Carli Blau and Pvolve Chief Physical Therapist Dr. Amy Hoover, are here to give you a well-rounded understanding of all that goes on down below. It's the perfect pelvic floor refresher before diving into our Pelvic Floor Strengthening Program. How does someone know if they have a weak pelvic floor? Carli: We’ve already discussed getting a pelvic floor diagnosis to know what kind of pelvic floor you have, but so many women explain afterwards that they wish someone told them they would have an intravaginal exam. Regardless, during this evaluation is when someone can learn if their pelvic floor is weakened. A hypotonic pelvic floor dysfunction could come in the form of urinary incontinence. So, think of it as the opposite of a hypertonic (or too tight) pelvic floor. You could leak, a trickle of pee and then an overfilled bladder. Women aren’t alone—men can experience both of these, as well! They may also benefit from the Pvolve Method, too. How will a first-time pelvic floor exam go? Dr. Amy: Pelvic floor therapy is no different than other therapy, except one thing: an internal vaginal or rectal exam if warranted, and of course consented to. These therapists are specially trained to do an internal exam of your pelvic floor. So what does that actually mean? It'll start with a general assessment to talk more about your issues, plus more detailed things like assessing your breathing pattern, checking on your abdominal wall and trigger points. The therapist will first do a visual exam of the external genital area, urethra, clitoris and anus, checking for skin integrity or signs of irritation. They may use a light to have better visibility. Then, they'll usually check the outer layer or superficial layer of pelvic floor muscles, in the area of the vulva, labia and perineum. They’ll ask you to contract your pelvic floor and watch to see if the perineum draws up and in towards your head. Then they will ask you to bear down or push like you’re going to the bathroom, which is an active lengthening of the pelvic floor. If needed, they'll use lubricant or will insert one or two fingers to check the deeper pelvic floor muscles for resting muscle tone, tight bands and of course strength. (One other thing to note is that we do not use a speculum like gynecologists, because we are examining muscle and not the uterus or cervix.) After going through these steps and trials, your doctor will likely be able to suggest a treatment plan with you. How can exercise help work the pelvic floor to strengthened, but not too tight? Carli: If the pelvic floor is too tight, you can exercise muscles around the pelvic floor to release the pelvic floor and not have to strengthen it any more to become even tighter. Or, you can use something like Pvolve to hone in on this particular area. Dr. Amy: In general, women with hypertonic pelvic floor or PFD (pelvic floor dysfunction) should not be strengthening the pelvic floor. It’s like if you have a hamstring strain or pulled muscle you would not want to do a bunch of hamstring curls or strengthening as this could make it worse. However, movement and hip openers can help reduce tone in the pelvic floor and can reduce symptoms. Pvolve's hip and pelvic recovery workouts would also be beneficial for this group. How long can I expect to see and feel my pelvic floor getting stronger? Carli: It depends on the symptoms you experience as a result of your pelvic floor. From a sexual perspective, if you’re experiencing a stronger orgasm, or feeling like there’s less of an urge to pee before or after sex, if you’re able to feel more during sex, then you can maybe feel those changes. The most common one that I see is when a woman has increased core and pelvic floor strength, and has a stronger orgasm as a result of it. Dr. Amy: It can take up to 6-8 weeks of consistent pelvic floor exercise to build muscle, but you may feel changes within a week or two of starting pelvic floor strengthening. The most important goal early on is to be able to understand and feel what you are doing so that you can do it correctly. Building a strong mind-body connection with your pelvic floor can help you engage these muscles correctly during larger body movements, but that takes practice. Starting by practicing isolated pelvic floor contractions while lying or sitting still helps build this connection and awareness. This can help you in situations where you might need some extra help from your pelvic floor, like coughing, sneezing or lifting. If you do these things mindfully and functionally, your body may eventually learn to do it automatically. You might notice your pelvic floor getting stronger and more flexible with improved incontinence, less heavy feeling in the perineum or vagina, easier bowel movements and better sensory awareness during sex. Pelvic floor strength can gradually increase over a long period of time, but smaller wins can come with immediate changes to your movements. CARLI BLAULMSW, M.Ed, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical Sex Therapy Carli Blau is a Licensed Sex and Relationship Therapist who specializes in women’s health including infertility, endometriosis, and PCOS. She is certified in Maternal Mental Health, received her Master’s of Social Work from Columbia University, a Master of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Clinical Sex Therapy studying infertility and sexual esteem in women trying to conceive. DR. AMY HOOVERDPT, Chief Physical Therapist Dr. Amy Hoover is Pvolve’s Doctor of Physical Therapy and the owner and operator of APHysio LLC, wellness practice that specializes in manual therapy, pre and post-natal care, pelvic floor disorders and more. Here at Pvolve, she’s able to share her expertise directly with our community as it applies to the method and its impact on the body. Not a member yet? Start your free trial for access to our library of on-demand classes and start working out with us today.
In the spirit of being Unfiltered for the month of October and in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we're proud to share inspiring stories from our members who have battled or are currently battling breast cancer. This is more than just a chance to see how movement and Pvolve played a role in their journey; it's an opportunity for the women in our community to take the mic and share their stories in the most honest, raw way—no filters needed. Most know how impactful the Pvolve method can be on your body no matter where you are in life. For those battling or recovering from illness, it's our functional fitness method that can be a small piece of reprieve from pain. Meet Judy—an L.A. native who joined the Pvolve family in April. Since then, she's done both on-demand videos and Virtual Studio classes, racked up an impressive set of equipment and set a consistent schedule of 5-6 workouts per week. But by the looks of her story, her workouts are more than just workouts; they're the way she found the upper-body alignment her body was looking for, the alone time she needed and so much more. Below, Judy shares her beautiful story: I discovered a marble-sized mass in November 2018. I have no family history of breast cancer and never considered it occurring to me. I remember getting a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy and not worrying because I was confident it was ”going to turn out to be nothing." When I found out I had stage 2 breast cancer, I was in total disbelief. I considered myself a very healthy, fit women in her 40’s. Over the course of 8 months, I ended up needing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I can now accept that I was sick for a while but I made a conscious effort to stay positive the whole time. Two things saved my sanity during my medical care. One, I made it a priority to exercise the entire time no matter how weak I felt. Two, I was overwhelmed by kindness and support from family, friends and people I didn't even know who cared. The importance of Pvolve has been in my recovery. I found myself needing physical therapy to help my range of motion after tissue changes from surgery and radiation. My arm and shoulder was very stiff. I discovered Pvolve when it popped up on my IG feed. I looked up the workouts and the use of functional movements and high-intensity, low-impact exercises really drew me in. I believe Pvolve will remain in my routine lifelong just as yoga does. I have always made exercise a priority. The physical benefits aside, I need exercise as my therapy. It is the only moment in the day when I am not a mom, a wife, a nurse. It is my alone time that makes me a better, happier person. Looking back at my journey, I wish I had not been so assumptive about my health. The confidence I felt that I was doing everything right, made me never consider cancer as a possibility I hope when people hear my story, they will remember cancer does not discriminate. It's not your fault; it just happened. The defining moment is how you deal with something negative and see the positive that results from it. I'm still strong, I am still healthy, surrounded by love and I look at life with gratitude. When you have cancer, it is easy to be the victim and let people feel pity for you. I am not cancer, it does not define me. I take ownership of cancer as a small part of who I am. I actually revel in the fact that I look healthy and strong despite what I've been through. Thank you, Judy Koempel Join us in supporting breast cancer research by signing up for one of our Moves for Boobs classes on 10/11 and 10/23. All proceeds from these two classes, as well as 10% of all sitewide proceeds for the week of 10/11, will be donated to the Society of Women's Health Research.
It's time we get to the bottom of something most women probably don't think about as often as they should: the pelvic floor. Yep, that's the bottom we're talking about. You might have heard your doctor or a Pvolve trainer mention the group of muscles that lives somewhere down there. But in order to really feel it in action, we first have to understand its purpose and its function. Below, Sex and Relationship Therapist Carli Blau goes deep on the pelvic floor: What’s the #1 thing women of all ages should know about their pelvic floor? The #1 thing women of all ages need to know about the pelvic floor is that each woman’s pelvic floor is unique. Unless there is pain, women are often not educated about their pelvic floor, what it is or what it does. There are two types of pelvic floors: hypertonic and hypotonic. If the pelvic floor is hypertonic, it means the pelvic floor muscles are too tight, which can lead to physical discomfort including sexual dysfunction. If it is hypotonic the pelvic floor muscles are too loose, which often occur post childbirth, specifically vaginal birth. This does not mean that every woman who has delivered vaginally will experience a “loose pelvic floor” but it does mean that if a woman does have a hypotonic pelvic floor, there are pelvic floor exercises and physical therapy that can help restore proper pelvic floor functioning. Women deserve to know the implications for these different types of pelvic floors and how they can impact them. What is the biggest misconception about the pelvic floor? The biggest misconception about the pelvic floor is that everyone’s pelvic floor needs to be tighter and that if you have a really strong pelvic floor, your orgasm is going to be amazing. This isn’t necessarily the case, because for some women who have a really, really tight pelvic floor (or hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction), the tightness of the pelvic floor can cause a difficulty with orgasming as well as painful sex. How do I know what kind of pelvic floor I have? A pelvic floor therapist can do a pelvic floor evaluation. Knowing what kind of pelvic floor you have can help you choose what kind of exercises will be best for you. For a lot of women who focus on strengthening their core in workouts, it’s very important to know about their pelvic floor because then you know if you’re strengthening your body, or if you’re providing too much strength that can work against you. If you’re feeling any type of discomfort—pelvic pain, groin pain, if sex is painful for you, incontinence or a hard time peeing—I strongly suggest you have a pelvic floor examination done to rule out pelvic floor dysfunction. If you’re someone who works out often and working out is a major part of your routine, it could just be great for you to know what kind of pelvic floor you’re working with. Why should women think about engaging their pelvic floor just as much as they engage their glute muscles during workouts? The pelvic floor and your core are the foundation of your body— it’s your rock, it’s what supports your body and it’s your body’s center of stability. So, you may want toned glutes (and I don’t blame you! ) but if you don’t value the foundation of your body, eventually the stronger parts of your body will wear on the rest because the base is not strong enough to withhold its entirety. I’d also add that the pelvic floor and core give you strength to work on these other parts of your body better—your glute muscles, your legs, your arms. Without a strong core and pelvic floor, it’s really hard to optimize the rest of these muscles without a strong core and foundation. How can women safely make pelvic floor health a priority in their workout routine? Too much of a good thing is still too much. You can engage in spinning or running, but incorporating your pelvic floor in other workouts like Pvolve can be a great way to supplement for the workouts that don’t use your pelvic floor as much. MORE ABOUT CARLI: Dr. Carli Blau, LMSW, M.Ed., M.A., Ph.D. in Clinical Sex Therapy, is a Licensed Sex and Relationship Therapist who specializes in women’s health including infertility, endometriosis, and PCOS. She is certified in Maternal Mental Health, received her Master’s of Social Work from Columbia University, a Master of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Clinical Sex Therapy studying infertility and sexual esteem in women trying to conceive.
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