In the spring, I made a new fitness goal for myself, mostly thanks to the influence of my aching knees. Instead of heavily relying on HIIT, squats, lunges, and deadlifts to give my legs a workout, I wanted to spend a little more time exercising my lower body through low-impact workouts.
Without access to a pool, I knew I'd need more direction and a plan to follow in order to actually implement this into my life. That's where P.volve ($20 per month) came into play. The low-impact, high-intensity workout method had been on my radar for a while — many of my friends swear by its sculpting and toning capabilities — so I decided to give it a personal test run.
Unlike other workout methods I've tried in the past (barre, Pilates, etc.), P.volve has its own set of very specific equipment designed to help you tone and target muscles through what the website describes as "dynamic, purposeful movements." Some of the equipment that P.volve calls for include ankle weights, ankle bands, hand weights, and gliders, and two other new-to-me tools called a "p.ball" and a "p.band."
After I had all my equipment ready, I did a 1:1 session with P.volve trainer Maeve McEwen. In this Zoom personal training session, she gave me more background on the effectiveness of the method and walked me through important movements and directions I'd discover once I started the on-demand program.
McEwen described P.volve as "a functional fitness method that teaches you to move the way your body is meant to move by mimicking movements that you do in your day-to-day life."
For example, many of the small movements resemble stepping, pushing, sitting, and pressing. You also start each workout in what's called a "p.stance," a position that helps your body prepare for movement in any direction. In addition to strengthening the body, McEwen said these small movements turn on the muscles that support your posture, stability, and take pressure off your joints.
What sets P.volve apart from other low-impact, high-intensity programs, McEwen explained, is that it focuses on pelvic articulation: "meaning we properly tilt and engage the pelvis to turn on the surrounding muscles and improve your posture, balance, and mobility." The workouts, McEwen said, are structured in "progressive blocks" of controlled repped moves that build upon each other. "We are committed to teaching you how to exercise more thoughtfully, to bring you more body awareness even to the smallest of movements."
After finishing up my hour tutorial with McEwen, I decided to commit to a P.volve's 7-Day Cardio Burn program instead of just trying random classes. The week-long program featured half-hour classes that concentrated on faster-paced movements to get the heart rate up and a lot of leg- and butt-centered moves.
McEwen, who is actually the lead trainer for the Cardio Burn series, spent ample time explaining each thoughtfully curated move and why it was beneficial for the body. She also offered so many different modifications, so even if I couldn't properly perform the advanced version, I was still getting in a great workout.
Each session called for a different equipment combination, but I loved the workouts that featured the ankle bands the most — the added resistance really helped me feel the small movements working in hard-to-reach areas of the leg, like the inner thigh.
The tiny steps that often appeared in workouts also felt so much more challenging with ankle weights. And, to be totally honest, I never thought that steps would be as difficult as a high-impact move like jump squats. My leg muscles were so gloriously sore by the end of the week, and even my sensitive knees were pleased.