When I got the invitation to try the workout that has helped top celebrities and models get in shape, I started mentally preparing for the hardest workout of my life. My workout regimen at the time included a barre class at least twice a week (three or four when I'm really good). I'd also throw in a few boxing classes here and there when I had the time. I felt that at the very least, I would be able to finish the class without terribly embarrassing myself. But what I learned was that none of those high-intensity classes that I spent years doing mattered. P.volve, a functional fitness method redefining how we treat exercise, is all about focusing on impactful, health-driven fitness workouts that work your body from the inside out. How can low-impact exercises create a strong, resilient body with less pain? I gained expert insight on everything there is to know about this unique and transformative fitness method by reaching out to P.volve trainers Dani Coleman and Zach Morris. Ahead, find out everything you need to know about P.volve workouts and how it differs from barre.
Meet the Expert
- Dani Coleman is a NASM-certified trainer at P.volve in Los Angeles, CA who holds a BFA in dance from Marymount Manhattan College.
- Zach Morris is a trainer at P.volve and is also both the Founder and Artistic Director of the Leading Edge Arts Project program.
What Is P.volve?
P.volve is a unique fitness method, connecting body and mind, that can be done at any age, anytime, and anywhere. It trains you to "move more mindfully, create better movement patterns, and engage more consciously," explains Coleman. "It’s high-intensity, but low-impact, and is designed to strengthen, sculpt, and energize the entire body without causing pain or injury," Morris adds.
A method based on functional movement paired with resistance training, P.volve reduces pain and transforms the body's performance in everyday life. Compared to traditional fitness methods, P.volve offers joint movement and muscle activation workouts that create strong and resilient muscles. Be prepared to leave any P.volve class "feeling lengthened, strengthened, and energized," Coleman raves.
The best way to activate hip motion is through smaller movements and low-intensity, versus high-intensity ones—like those killer pulses where you pretend to sit in a chair on your tiptoes, arms extended and holding on to a ballet bar, pulsing to an EDM remix of your favorite Top-40 song for three minutes straight. By the end of it, your thighs will burn, and you may or may not have difficulty walking down stairs for the next week. A burn that I thought meant the workout was working, apparently only gives me short-term results.
"The thing with high-intensity workouts is you're rushing everything. You're skipping over what generally happens," P.volve founder Stephen Pasterino previously shared with Byrdie. "Unless you're a pro athlete, I can say just about most people are pushing through their joints and their form is off. So it doesn't amount to anything and it beats the hell out of your body."
He explained to us that the more you use your joints for motion, the more pressure you put on your knees and ankles, and that will eventually cause inflammation and swelling.
What Is a P.Volve Class Like?
"The P.volve is rooted in physical therapy and functional fitness," Morris explains. "Our classes incorporate precise, controlled movements with a variety of unique equipment to emphasize lengthening and strengthening the muscles in ways that protect the joints, expand the range of motion, and eliminate pain," he continues.
As Coleman explains, in general, there are several P.volve formats to choose from. Each trainer has their own style of instruction and there is a mixture of both standing and mat exercises. Workouts using P.volve’s unique equipment will leave you feeling energized and exhilarated. "In all of our classes, you'll move diversely through different angles and planes of motion like you do in everyday life," says Coleman. Here are some specific P.volve classes to consider:
- The Foundation
- Strength and Sculpt
- Cardio Burn
- Recover and Stretch
The Benefits of P.Volve
"More than looking good, you're actually going to feel good working out," raves Coleman. "Personally speaking, it's redefined my relationship with movement and I've never looked forward to ‘working out’ more." See below for Morris’s list of P.volve benefits:
- Increased strength
- Increased mobility
- Increased control
- Improved balance
- Improved posture
P.Volve vs. Barre
P.volve’s foundation in physical therapy and focus on the mind-to-muscle connection differs largely from Barre. Also, instead of the focus being on the movement quantity, P.volve focuses on quality. The attention on mobility in the pelvis is also a P.volve technique that is wholly unique. "Even with my 20 years in dance and musical theatre, I have never moved my body the way I do in a P.volve class," says Morris.
"[Barre classes] are missing very essential steps," Pasterino says. "You can't even activate your inner thigh and most of your butt if you don't have mobility in your hips." After going through physical therapy for a football-related injury and learning at the Gray Institute for 15 years, Pasterino developed his own workout classes. It's through those experiences that he realized the key to getting toned is all about hip motion.
"If you don't have the motion in your hips—internal rotation, external rotation, abduction, and extension—and don't have all those bases covered, you're not constantly working on getting your butt to really develop, and you can't get the thighs to slim," Pasterino explains. Morris adds the important element of balance into the mixture, noting that without "the motion in your hips… you won't start to build balance in your body and deeply activate the glutes and thighs."
At-Home vs. In-Studio
Unlike a lot of exercise classes, P.volve is accessible to anyone and everyone through its new app. No matter where you are, as long as you have the app, you can learn from P.volve’s amazing team of trainers. As Coleman explains, the P.volve app library has hundreds of videos that range in format type, trainer, and workout length. If, however, you prefer a class setting, you can check out a class in one of their studios in Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago.
Looking for a workout more interactive than an app but something still accessible from the comfort of your own home? Many trainers, including Coleman, offer virtual workouts. Pasterino spoke with Byrdie about his virtual classes and told us, "I made it so it doesn't matter what your fitness level is. I talk through the entire thing nonstop, trying to make it a one-on-one training session. I'm trying to build it like a program," he said. If you tune in for one of these virtual studio classes, you’ll be able to interact with the instructor and the rest of the class, adding a whole other level to your P.volve experience.
What to Wear During a P.Volve Class
Both Coleman and Morris say it's important to be comfortable when doing P.volve, so make sure to wear something that you can easily move around in. Coleman recommends wearing sneakers that have extra support in the frame around the foot, which will help with the stability focused exercises.
P.volve describes itself as an accessible fitness method, offering modifications to suit varying needs. "Due to our physical therapy foundation, we truly believe there is an aspect of the method to be enjoyed by everyone no matter your experience, We are constantly evolving and finding ways to hear and help our clients daily," Coleman notes.
P.Volve Workout Essentials
Pasterino says that every one of his classes is different, as he doesn't stick to a routine and focuses on making sure clients open their hip movement. There were a lot of side lunges, slow squats, and the use of a special piece of equipment he made himself called the P.Ball.
The P.Ball looks like a pilates ball, but is harder in pressure and has a strap attached to it so that when you put both legs through the assigned holes, the ball stays in place.
"I take these exercises where you're hitting different angles and you're strengthening your connection. You're not doing anything crazy, you're just straining that muscle. It's just activation… I've actually found it has a lot of second-term benefits. It tones the hell out of your outer thigh and the very bottom of your butt," Pasterino explains.
Coleman is also a huge fan of the P.Ball: “It's a one-stop shop that works not only your legs, but your glutes, core, and upper body! It's unlike anything I've ever experienced and it's always a conversation starter.”
With the ball, we hit the floor, squeezing the ball in sequences to get our thighs to burn. While it didn't tire me out like a Pilates or barre class would've, I definitely felt a burn.
Don't forget that shoes can play an important role in P.volve exercises. Morris “hands down” recommends a pair of Nike Air Max shoes as a must-have P.volve workout essential. "[They have] such good support for the feet and ankles when you are balancing," he raves.
The most interesting part is that after a P.volve class, I was barely sweaty. Pasterino says that it takes a couple of classes to really start seeing the results. Harder and sweatier doesn't always mean better. Having done barre for over four years now, and only getting a quick glimpse of what strong stomach muscles feel like, if P.volve clients are any indication, there might just be something to be said about low impact versus high after all.
Gupte C, St Mart JP. The Acute Swollen Knee: Diagnosis and Management. J R Soc Med. 2013;106(7):259-268. doi:10.1177/0141076813482831
Kennard JA, Woodruff-Pak DS. A Comparison of Low- and High-impact Forced Exercise: Effects of Training Paradigm on Learning and Memory. Physiol Behav. 2012;106(4):423-427. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.02.023