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There’s an App For That: The Pelvic Floor Trainer

We know that the pelvic floor—the group of muscles that acts as a hammock for your undercarriage—is important: Strong pelvic floor muscles improve bladder and bowel control—as well as sex—and can be the key to eliminating pesky back pain issues, avoiding scary prolapse problems, and finally getting a flat stomach. (To read more about the power of the pelvic floor, see this goop piece with fascia and structural integrative specialist Lauren Roxburgh.)

But remembering to actually do your kegels—or as Lauren suggests, jump on a rebounder—is another thing entirely. So we were pretty excited to hear about Elvie, an incredibly well-designed and easy to use device plus app that takes you through a series of exercises. Here’s the deal: you insert a small (smoothly shaped) pod, much like you would a tampon. Using Bluetooth, you connect the pod to your phone, and then…you play some games. (Blame the French! The concept originated there.) A session lasts for about five minutes, during which you contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles while watching your progress on screen, in real time, as your pelvic floor activity effectively moves bars and dots across the screen as directed. Your Elvie workouts are personalized based on your baseline strength (which the app tests for), and the objectives of the exercises vary, increasing in intensity as you go up in levels. (The pulse exercise, FYI, is no joke.)

Elvie is the brainchild of Tania Boler, whose expertise is in global women’s health, and Alexander Asseily, who started revolutionary wearable technology company Jawbone. Below, Boler tells us more about the device, now available in the goop shop.

A Q&A with Tania Boler

Q

How exactly does Elvie work? And what makes it different from other Kegel methods?

A

Elvie makes an exercise that used to be boring and difficult into a fun, five-minute workout. The force and motion sensors inside Elvie measure pelvic floor muscle movement, and the app allows you to visualize the exercises in real time. Kegel products are often designed from existing sex toys, which can be too big or uncomfortable. We started from scratch to find the perfect shape that you could, and would, use anywhere. Elvie is also the only Kegel exercise tracker that can tell you if you’re exercising incorrectly, as around 30% of women push down instead of lifting.

Q

European countries seem very evolved when it comes to addressing issues with the pelvic floor—can you tell us a little more about what’s in play in countries like France?

A

It is normal for French women to attend Kegel exercise classes after birth, which is something I only learned after I had my first baby. In France, the logic is “happy mom, happy baby,” which I think is just starting to become more popular in the U.S. and U.K. Most people think this is a health or a sex issue. It is both, but it is also a women’s issue. It is important for kegels to be part of a woman’s everyday wellness routine throughout her life, which is something French women have known for decades.

Q

What kind of results have women seen?

A

My personal favorites are when women tell us they can jog again when they were afraid to before. That makes me feel like we’ve really made a difference.

Q

Can you tell us more about how Elvie can intensify orgasms?

A

Kegels are the same muscles that contract when you orgasm. So the stronger the muscles, the stronger the orgasm! It’s that simple.

Q

Does Elvie have any effect on fertility and aging?

A

One of the major causes of pelvic floor weakness is aging—just like any other muscle, the pelvic floor can lose elasticity as we get older.

Q

When should women begin exercising their pelvic floors—at what age, before or after childbirth, etc.?

A

Our core strength is at the heart of what makes us women and affects how we feel about ourselves physically, sexually, and emotionally. All women benefit from better core strength and control so kegels are important at all stages of life. However, there are certain life events like pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause that put a lot of strain on the pelvic floor, and exercise is particularly important then.

Q

For women who already have major pelvic floor problems—incontinence, laxity, etc.—is it possible to get back what we’ve lost?

A

Absolutely, medical professionals around the world recommend kegels as one of the first solutions to conditions like early stage prolapse and incontinence. It’s important that women don’t see these symptoms as inevitable, when a simple five-minute workout can go a long way towards dealing with them.

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