Tania (a women’s health expert) started Chiaro (makers of Elvie) to empower women to love their body and love being a woman. From pregnancy and childbirth to periods and menopause, being a woman is never dull, but so often we choose to ignore the fact that there is so little support out there for our wellness and what exists isn’t really tailored to our needs. When Tania became a mom a few years back, at the recommendation of her pre/postpartum trainer, she looked for a solution to help strengthen her core and pelvic floor outside of her Pilates classes. She was shocked to see how inadequate the solutions were for modern women and realized she could create an innovative, beautiful and bold product women would enjoy using to solve this need. After all, smart women deserve smart technology! She applied and received a UK government grant to develop her idea and she quit her job and started working on Elvie.
My passion for this project came from my personal experience as a mom and my French origins – in my home country new moms get 10 government paid (!) sessions with a physiotherapist to rehab their pelvic floor post-baby. While in NY when my twins were born, I got a sad piece of paper saying I should do Kegels (no explanation as to why I should do them, how I should do them or tips to making sure I was doing them correctly). I wished there had been something like Elvie then and I was excited to help transform the way technology is designed for women by taking control of the conversation ourselves and launching an innovation that would make a difference in women’s lives.
Every woman has a pelvic floor, though many of us don’t really understand this part of our body. This powerful set of muscles sits like a hammock between your tailbone and your pubic bone. Kind of hidden but very important, they lift and hold your core. Age, children, weight, high impact sport etc. can affect the health of these muscles. Sadly, one in three women have pelvic floor issues and the numbers even go up to 50-80% of pregnant women and new moms. But the good news is that like any muscle, with a bit of exercise (aka the famous Kegels) you can feel the benefit – more core stability, better control and even better sex and that’s timely for Valentine’s Day! Sadly, it’s hard to exercise a muscle you can’t see and Kegels are notoriously boring and hard to do. That’s where Elvie comes in. We make it easy and fun. Ultimately, we’re focusing on an issue that affects pretty much every woman at some point in their lives, but has traditionally been thought of as a health issue or a sex issue, so for us it’s been about changing the conversation to make it a woman’s issue and caring for your core a normal part of her lifestyle.
In my home country new moms get 10 government paid (!) sessions with a physiotherapist to rehab their pelvic floor post-baby. While in NY when my twins were born, I got a sad piece of paper saying I should do Kegels (no explanation as to why I should do them, how I should do them or tips to making sure I was doing them correctly).
Totally not fair! As women, we’re 51 percent of the population, and yet our health needs and the needs that we have as women have been overlooked for so long. Viagra and erectile dysfunction are mainstream, but we can’t even say vagina in some places. If you’re scared to even say the word, then you probably don’t know how powerful it is. For too long, women’s intimate health has been ignored by media and has been avoided in conversation. 2017 is the #YearOfTheVagina. We are taking back what it means to be a woman, starting by being honest about our bodies. The first step to owning your orgasm is knowing your body and your vagina. Women are now taking control of their orgasm, and making sure they get it – every time. Moving away from the stereotypical image of what is ‘sexy’, women are embracing their inner strength and getting to know their bodies before they get to know their partner’s. Women want to feel sexy from the inside out; forget the satin lingerie, it’s all about inner strength and confidence and feeling happy from the inside out. Elvie can play a part in that. It’s your very own Fitbit for your lady bits! Never before have women been able to get so up-close and personal with their vaginas. A stronger pelvic floor means stronger orgasm! Owning your orgasm starts with you.
Elvie empowers women to take control of their bodies and bring an exercise that was traditionally restricted to hospital rooms and clinics, into their homes to fit around their busy modern lifestyle! Elvie is a small egg-shaped device inserted like a tampon to help women do their pelvic floor exercises. Elvie – which Tania developed with Alex Asseily, the founder of the wearable tech company Jawbone – connects to an app and with real time biofeedback guides women through different fun five-minute exercises, depending on your personalized strength. Over 150 women impacted each step of its development so it’s designed to be “discreet” and come in a compact, charging case. Made with safe medical grade silicone and completely waterproof, it is easy to clean. It’s really small but it comes with the option to custom size it. I like to say it is like going on a treadmill: pop on, follow the directions of the workout program, get competitive with yourself and when it ends 5 minutes later, pop out you are done!
2017 is the #YearOfTheVagina. We are taking back what it means to be a woman, starting by being honest about our bodies. The first step to owning your orgasm is knowing your body and your vagina. Women are now taking control of their orgasm, and making sure they get it – every time.
Beyond the gaming and competitive aspect (personal best anyone?) for women who don’t know how to exercise, Elvie will help them improve their technique and it will coach them at a quite gentle learning pathway. There are different levels and it’s like any other fitness program. It’s all about motivating and rewarding women to keep coming back and to enjoy the experience. It’s recommended to use Elvie three times a week minimum so it will send you reminders to keep you on track. Personally, I love to see my progress on the dashboard but I am data freak. My husband might have also possibly commented on noticing the difference but I can’t neither confirm or deny – I am bound to secrecy.
Lucky for us the pelvic floor muscles are among the most versatile in the human body and they are thought to be able to recover their strength even after years of disuse. So it is never too late to train it ladies!
Breaking news ladies – Kegels are a must-do from puberty to the grave! The pelvic floor needs to be strengthened and toned whether or not you have kids. Prevention does not sound sexy but it will help avoid later in life possible surgical intervention. Yes pregnancy and childbirth tend to weaken the pelvic floor but genetics and high impact sports with repetitive downward movements (such as tennis, running, HIIT, Crossfit…) have been linked to pelvic floor issues. Look up marathoners who had a pee accident – it’s more common than you think! It is also quite beneficial at menopause to offset the effect of this transition and age. And kids or no kids, who would say no to a greater orgasm? Beyond exercising the muscles that are actively activated during orgasm, exercise boosts blood flow so when you’re working out your intimate muscles you increase sensitivity down there too. Doing your Kegels not only strengthens your pelvic floor to spice up your sex life but can intensify your orgasms. As your pelvic floor gets stronger, your orgasms will get more intense. So take note and start doing more with your Kegels!
Kids or no kids, who would say no to a greater orgasm?
As a woman (and a mom of a little girl) the cultural zeitgeist I am most excited about these days is that now strength is the new sexy thanks to Millennials who are prioritizing their fitness pursuits. To be skinny is no longer the goal, it is about finding inner strength. Feeling strong inside helps you feel strong emotionally too. Part of it is just confidence because it affects so much of how we feel as women. It affects how you feel about yourself sexually, with confidence and health, so we look at it as an empowerment issue. Kegels can help women be and feel stronger. Other more obvious benefits include prevention against pelvic prolapsus (Google it, trust me you do not want this), less back pain, better bladder control and yes, improvements in the bedroom.
I am a foodie but a lazy cook and in our home my husband is usually the chef making dinner or fabulous elaborate dishes, but once a year, I get behind the stove and work on a meal for him. It spurred from a hate of the anti-climatic must-do overpopulated restaurant night and it grew to be a tradition and he won’t let me get off the hook for. But I can’t deny him this one night.
Cecile Urrea is the US General Manager of Chiaro Technology LTD, the company that created Elvie. You can find Cecile hanging in Brooklyn with her two littles or going for a run.