I was so happy that my colleague Sarah came to my office to mention her project about strengthening pelvic floor muscles. Here was a person who I could trust, offering me a possible solution to several mysteries that have tortured me from age 18 to 41!
Mysteries to be Solved:
- Why do I pee when I sneeze, if I haven’t had a baby yet? I’m a personal trainer! I train my core every week! I know it’s perfectly normal when you’re building back the strength in the pelvic floor muscles after having a baby, but I don’t feel normal.
- Why do I only contract my pelvic floor muscles consciously? Why can’t they just contract on their own? For example, when you learn to ride a bike or drive a car at first you need to consciously make choices. Then, one day (hopefully) your motor-memory kicks in and all of that physical coordination becomes part of your subconscious. You don’t consciously need to make all those decisions, and cycling becomes much easier.
- Why me?
The kGoal comes in a bright, cheerful color and looks very effective at first sight.
I'm excited. I'm tired of peeing a little bit when I sneeze. That strategic moment of remembering to cross my legs first is too precarious.
About 7 years ago, I went to physical therapy to learn more about my pelvic floor muscles and the physical therapist acted as though I had a perplexing lack of control.
Having a doctor who is an authority-figure (even if it is theoretical these days) look surprised by your vagina isn't the best-case scenario. After all, it certainly isn't the same thing as praise for your vagina's strength and determination.
She told me that she didn't take my insurance (I had opted to pay out of pocket for the first visit, hoping to learn what I needed to do) and that it would take at least 8-12 sessions. $1600 to $2400 later, I opted to try physical education, instead of an expensive medical treatment program in a big, bright, white, institution smelling of Chlorox bleach.
This kGoal seems to be the perfect device to help me along my way. I am excited to put the past in the past and learn how to use my pelvic floor muscles properly.
My first experience taking it out of the box was being a bit surprised that just like everything else in life (except sneakers, dumbbells, bikes and people) you need to charge it with a USB cable and there is an App as well as online instructions.
I'm pretty old-school so I was disappointed that I couldn't just read a little book. My kGoal was so neat that I had high hopes of discovering a cute paper instruction manual and notebook so that I could get started reading up on it right away.
The little instruction manual provided is in fact so minimalistic, that it's useless. So, if you're trying to have a day-off and "unplug" forget it. You'll need to get your computer out, charge it and take a look at the online instructions.
If you want to buy the wall charger, it's extra. Modern life.
Be prepared. Don't be disappointed.
My kGoal is charged. But now I'm intimidated, realizing that not only is my pelvic floor out of control, but also because my lack of modernity has become glaringly obvious to me. I’m grumpy about the USB charger (no, I am NOT actually grumpy about my unresolved feelings from childhood).
Attempting to be strong, I verbally tell Pongo Power colleague Sarah after 7 days of procrastinating due to disappointment, that I couldn't figure out where the instructions are. I knew I could have Googled it.
Sarah kindly didn't make me feel even more guilty and pathetic, and told me she'd email me the instructions.
Here are the videos for the KGoal. Have fun!
- Device how-to: https://vimeo.com/119571913
- App how-to: https://vimeo.com/11999736The product page on our website also has some great details in terms of specs and features
Clearly someone from kGoal had emailed them to Sarah. Why couldn’t all of that be easy to find when I took it out of the box?
Week 3, 4, 5, 6
I forward myself the email with the instructions, week after week, so that it is at the tip-top of my inbox, hoping that my guilt and shame for not having a magical perfect vagina will subside soon.
I come clean with Sarah and admit I'm behind schedule on the project. She (again) does not make me feel like anything is wrong with me, and lets me know that all I need to do is to try the device so that we can provide our own Pongo Power review to our community, not train my vagina to be perfect. This latter piece of information is my interpretation her attitude, tone of voice, and demeanor, and not a verbal remark - I do not need to be perfect. Go team!
I need to re-charge my kGoal.
I look up the instructions online myself, trying to be more self-sufficient.
On the K-Goal web site, I discover this piece of information:
"...pelvic floor muscles are often controlled subconsciously, and studies have shown that over 30% of women are not able to correctly contract their pelvic floor muscles without direct feedback. kGoal's ability to provide real time feedback via touch and sight can help you make sure you're doing the exercises correctly."
So! The physical therapist failed to mention this! 8 years later, although I’ve been be-grudgingly dragging my feet in regard to becoming a Modern, I can now see the beauty of the App and the kGoal device providing me with the feedback that I don’t have a man (or a woman, but I’m sexually interested in men) or an expensive physical therapist to provide for me!
I go to the kitchen and eat an almond croissant from Bread Alone at the Greene Market, drink a strong cup of fair-trade coffee, organic blueberries from the Park Slope Food Coop and salmon with whole grain rice to process this information. If the world is actually a fair and safe place, then how did this atrocity occur? How has my pelvic floor strength gotten this far, weak and subconsciously untrained for 41 years?
I’ve always blamed the fact that I don’t have a boyfriend who I’m in love with. I’ve figured that I can do all the Kegal exercises in the world, but if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
My pelvic floor muscles were strong enough to support me when I ran 3 NYC City Marathons without giving up, so why are the little muscles not involved right before I sneeze?
As a NASM personal trainer, I know the reason, very well. The simple fact is that there are smaller, finer, different types of muscles in our body, and if the neural drive to these muscles is less than that neurological drive to the bigger gross superficial muscles, or the tight overactive muscles, then the little weak ones simply don’t magically turn themselves on. They need neuromuscular programming to develop those neurological pathways. The kGoal is my ticket to training them.
From the kGoal website:
- Real time, tactile biofeedback: pelvic floor muscles are often controlled subconsciously, and studies have shown that over 30% of women are not able to correctly contract their pelvic floor muscles without direct feedback. kGoal's ability to provide real time feedback via touch and sight can help you make sure you're doing the exercises correctly
- Guide your workout: our team of experts has helped us develop algorithms to suggest exercise plans that are tailored to you and based on your current capabilities
- Track your performance: kGoal can measure and keep track of things such as muscle strength, endurance, and which exercises you did and when you did them. Being able to look at how your body changes over time can help you better understand your body and optimize your fitness
- Be comfortable: since kGoal's squeezable pillow section is squishy and has a vent to adjust size, you can tailor the fit to your body's unique anatomy, even as it changes over time
- Make exercise fun: let's face it...exercise can be boring. A smart device like kGoal can make it much more interesting, and we're even working on games and other interactions to make pelvic floor exercise more engaging. We know that motivation can be a huge challenge with exercise, and it is extremely important to us to create an experience that doesn't feel like a chore
Feeling sated by my snack, I go back to work with my kGoal. I have to watch the instructions on Vimeo two times, before it all makes sense.
I try the kGoal. Apparently, the pillow is inflatable so that it can deflate and inflate to match the size of your vagina. This is cool because there is no doubt that it is matched to your body’s type (something you’re born with).
Next, I discover that there are… wait for it… games, yes, basically video games that you play with your vaginal muscles contracting and relaxing, and the App to see how your pelvic floor muscles perform. They’re called workouts, and they are truly fun!
Your muscles are rated based on 3 categories: 1. Strength 2. Endurance and 3. Control. Then you receive a composite score for the day, and you can track your results.
On my first workout I get a perfect 10 for strength, and 10 for Endurance, but… yes, as I suspected a 4 on Control!
This is brilliant, because now I know longer feel weak and pathetic. I realize, though actual science that I just need to train the little muscles that work with my mind to control the situation! And I can now do this with my kGoal. At only $175 this is much, much more affordable than $1600 to go to physical therapy for 8 weeks.
I am thrilled by the two workouts, and I feel a great sense of relief about the entire predicament that I’ve found myself it.
There are only 2 videos to watch, and now that I understand more, I can see why perhaps this is better than a paper manual. I do think that a paper manual would have been nice, because I’m old fashioned. Apparently they are also working on ways to share your workout results with friends so that you can engage in sharing and a bit of healthy competition.
I felt very isolated in regard to my lack of control, confused, and helpless because it seemed like it would be expensive to develop the fine little muscles in my pelvic floor. The kGoal, as a truly modern and innovative device helps to end all of those outdated ways of thinking, considering how many resources we now have available to us through science and technology. My grandmother had a prolapsed uterus, and I definitely don’t want to go down that path!