Meet the Kegel Queen Tania Boler
In 2013, when Tania Boler founded Elvie, her first mission was taking on the pelvic floor; the most important but most neglected muscle group in a women's body.
If you don't even know what your pelvic floor is, you're not alone. Tania gave us the 411, so let's get to it!
Ok, so what is the pelvic floor and why does it matter?
The pelvic floor is a powerful little set of muscles that sits like a hammock between your tailbone and pubic bone. They might be hidden from sight but you don’t want to forget about them. Kegels are important for core strength, bladder control and even better sex, but one in three women will feel the effects of a weak pelvic floor.
Do you recommend women begin Kegel training even if they haven't had a child? If so, what are the benefits?
Pelvic floor health is especially important during and post-pregnancy, but Kegels aren't just for moms or older women!
Every woman who wants to feel stronger from the inside, improve and maintain bladder control, core strength, have stronger orgasms or reduce back pain can benefit from effective Kegel workouts. One in three women experience pelvic floor issues as a result of high-impact sport or genetics, as well as pregnancy, childbirth and aging – these challenges can affect women of all ages. So Kegels really should be a part of every woman’s daily routine!
Some people might get freaked out by the technology aspect of Elvie, but why is it important to track a user's data and progress?
It can be difficult to exercise a muscle you can't see, which is why being able to see real-time feedback in the app is so important. The app visualizes, guides, and corrects your technique in response to your muscle movements. As you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, a gem on the app lifts. The stronger you squeeze, the higher the gem lifts. This is called biofeedback and it’s shown to be the most effective form of pelvic floor exercising.
Tania, I read that you have a PhD on the subject of teen pregnancy and HIV in South Africa. What was the turning point that made you get serious about Kegels?
The inspiration for Elvie Trainer comes from my own personal experience. Like lots of women, I never really thought much about my pelvic floor muscles until I had my first baby, when I was desperate to regain my strength, control and confidence. My husband is French and I discovered that it’s normal for French women to attend pelvic floor rehabilitation classes after birth. I was shocked to learn that nothing like this existed in other countries, and that pelvic floor weakness is so common.
As I researched and talked to experts, I realized that there was very little technological innovation. Women were buying lots of different products to rebuild their core strength without much evidence that they are effective. The one thing shown to work is giving women real time biofeedback, but this technology existed almost exclusively in hospitals.
Women need better technology that fits around their busy lives so I founded Elvie to design connected devices specifically for women’s health and lifestyle. Naturally, the first product was Elvie’s Trainer - a discreet yet fun and simple way to do your pelvic floor exercises.
I co-founded the company with Alexander Asseily of Jawbone, who has almost 20 years of experience in the tech and wearables industry, to ensure that we had the expertise to design devices that are as beautiful as they are effective.
Can your partner feel the difference if you build up your pelvic strength?
When it comes to better sex, Kegels build muscle strength, increase sensation and boost blood flow to the vagina, which in turn helps women to control those muscles and experience stronger orgasms. The experience varies from person to person but if you work on improving your pelvic floor control then you and your partner should both be able to feel the difference!
Do you ever get "sore" from Kegels in the way that you might from more traditional weight exercise (like bicep curls)?
Yes, it is possible! Your muscles will fatigue as you work them and build up endurance. Elvie Trainer adjusts each workout so that it is designed around your personal performance.
Is there a male equivalent of Kegels?
Despite the obvious differences in anatomy, men can do Kegel exercises as well, which are also important for their pelvic floor health.
Any parting words of wisdom?
A lot of women think that a little leakage is normal or something that they’ll always have to live with when they laugh, sneeze or run. It might be very common but there is also plenty that can be done about it. You’re probably not the only person in your gym class that pees a little when they jump!