Prior to the pandemic, I jumped from studio to studio trying out different workout classes around the city. From hot yoga in midtown to Muay Thai kickboxing on the Lower East Side to high-intensity interval training on the Upper West Side, I frequented them all. I crave variety when it comes to my exercise routine, but since all of my favorite studios closed their doors due to COVID-19 earlier this year, I’ve realized that I also crave the energy that buzzes around a room filled with strangers getting their sweat on. I’ve experimented with plenty of virtual workouts since March chasing that same feeling, and my latest obsession, P.volve, is about as close to the real thing as it gets.
The fitness method pairs resistance-based high-intensity training with low-impact movements. P.volve Senior Trainer Maeve McEwen calls it “strengthening, sculpting, and energizing.” And while its studios in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have been affected by the pandemic, P.volve has a library of hundreds of exercise videos featuring full body workouts designed to stream from your computer or through an app on your phone. Plus, it offers live Zoom classes every day, which are the next best thing to visiting a studio in person.
This likely explains why the service has skyrocketed in popularity this year. Not only does it boast celebrity fans like Kate Bosworth, but its paid subscription business jumped by 191 percent since August alone. The brand also has a casual 156,000 followers on Instagram.
You can commit to a structured plan and follow videos that go together in a series or filter individual class videos by workout type, skill level, class length, body focus, and equipment. Not all of the exercises require equipment, but P.volve does sell its own weights, resistance bands, floor gliders, and more accessories to help you get the most out of your home workout. You can order individual items or buy entire kits filled with the essentials.
New to the specific style of micro-movements, I started out with a one-on-one private training session over Zoom. This allowed me to get acclimated to my new equipment—which is compact enough to easily store in my tiny apartment—and learn key motions unique to the P.volve method, like how to squat my legs into something called a P.sit and properly articulate my pelvis to activate my abs.
“All P.volve workouts focus heavily on rotations to reach every angle of your body, improve posture and balance, and ultimately give you more ease in your everyday life,” McEwen explains.
It sounds complicated, but it’s actually rather simple to follow along with once your body starts to remember the movements (many of which were new to me). After my private training session, I was ready to try out the on-demand videos on my own. I had my pick of foundation classes, which help new users refine their technique; strength and sculpt classes, which focus on strengthening and toning the entire body; cardio burn classes, which include low-impact high-intensity movements designed to get the heartrate up; and recover and stretch classes, which feature restorative movements and stretches to lengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and help you unwind.
I loved having the ability to make my own schedule and press play whenever I was ready to work out, but I was most looking forward to popping into a live Zoom class with other subscribers. After virtually joining class, saying hello to my instructor, and seeing fellow classmates ready to workout in their living rooms, I felt the similar surge of energy that had been missing from so many of my home workouts over the past six months.
If you’re thinking about trying out the P.volve method, McEwen advises you to “be patient, open-minded, and consistent.” I can confirm the workouts are unlike any I’d ever tried before, and it takes a while to figure out how to do each movement correctly, but when you find that sweet spot, the classes provide a targeted burn like no other.
Digital memberships start at just $20 depending on what type you choose. Along with the workout video library, you’ll also get access to customizable plans, a profile where you can track your progress, and nutritional content, like healthy recipe videos. And similar to traditional studios, you can drop into a single virtual class for $15 or purchase larger class packs and unlimited memberships if you’re ready to commit.
To buy: From $20; p.volve.com.