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This is Ashley Albers' Story:
The P.volve method
P.volve is a low-impact functional movement workout created by New York-based trainer Stephen Pasterino AKA “P”. It is the method I use to strength train and it is the bomb dot com. I love it because I can get stronger without “crashing”. You can learn more about the P.volve method on their website.
How I got started
In July of 2018 I was looking for a new workout method that I could do in my condition. There was no way that I could or should have gone back to my old ways of intense running and weight lifting. I read about P.volve being a gentle yet effective workout program and it piqued my interest. I started with the program by using their free videos on YouTube. In the beginning I could only tolerate 3 minutes a day, but eventually I worked my way up to tolerating 10-15 mins. At that point I downloaded the P.volve app which came with 3 free workouts. I used those until they offered me a good deal to subscribe to the streaming service and I have been a happy streamer ever since.
The P.volve equipment is fantastic. I think it adds another level of interest and challenge to the workouts. When I first started, I did it without any equipment and it was still effective. So, if you are first starting out, give it a go without any equipment and see how you like it.
My favorite equipment pieces are: light ankle band, light ankle weight, hand weights, p.ball, and the p3 trainer. I like the light resistance equipment because I can produce a greater range of motion with them. The p.ball is basically an inflatable ball that you strap in between your legs. It’s super weird, I’ll give you that, but it’s awesome. You can do a lot of movements with it in between the legs to work the inner thighs, glutes, and pelvic floor; and by holding it in your hands you can work the arm and pec muscles. The p3 is wild, it is hard to describe. It is an ankle band that you attach to a resistance cord that then attaches to either a weighted ball or a handle, depending on what particular exercise is being done. It works literally everything in a very effective way. P.volve nailed it with the p3, it’s genius.
The workouts remind me of physical therapy, but with more unique and interesting moves. They range from 15 minutes up to around an hour. Most fall around the 25-40 minute range, especially the newer videos. P.volve workouts are never boring, even after a year of doing them. I will say, though, that for the most part I prefer the more original videos where P is the trainer. I think they are the most effective workouts with the exception of the new workouts using the p3. To see what the workouts are like in action and to get a good feel for the method check out their YouTube channel.
P.volve with POTS and ME
P.volve has been great for me with POTS and ME. My heart rate stays in the 80’s while I do it, so it is gentle and low-intensity. I have never had a crash from P.volve, which is a difficult feat. I have a milder brand of POTS, so it may not be for all POTS patients. There are a few workouts exclusively on the mat. Those are awesome for the more “potsy” days. Most of the workouts are standing up with last block being on the mat, which is a nice bit of relief. I would imagine for people with severe POTS, P.volve would be too much standing. Another streamer who has POTS does the workouts in a pool to help combat the orthostatic intolerance which is very smart.
I have gotten WAY stronger doing the P.volve method. For several months it was the only type of exercise I did. During that time I regained most of the strength I lost during the year I was undiagnosed. It’s crazy to think that just a year ago, my husband had to carry me up the stairs and now I can run up them. Like I said in my exercise post, I started at 30% of normal function before diagnosis and now (September 2019) I am at 50-60% of normal function. At least half of that improvement is attributed to exercise and primarily came from when I was doing exclusively P.volve. I think it is so effective because the movements are functional and translate to real-life movement and strength. An added bonus of P.volve is the muscle definition it creates.
How often/long do I do P.volve
I do P.volve for 20-30 minutes three times per week. I will either do a workout that falls within that time range or do half of a longer workout and finish it up during my next exercise session. As part of the modified Levine exercise protocol I am doing, I alternate days between P.volve and recumbent biking and take Sundays off. I used to do P.volve for longer and more frequent sessions, but I have found through trial and error that this amount works best for me so that my muscles can recover.
P.volve costs $30 per month. The equipment ranges from $15-$90 per piece. There are often promotions on both equipment and subscriptions.