Jen liked the workout platform Pvolve so much, she bought the company. But will fitness editor Kerry Potter be so easily sold?
Just how fabulous Jennifer Aniston looks has been a constant source of public fascination for three decades. Just one example: the immense buzz when the 54-year-old, currently starring in season 3 of The Morning Show on Apple TV+, recently posted a photo of herself wearing lymphatic drainage trousers on Instagram.
So I was fascinated to hear that Aniston loves the online US functional fitness programme Pvolve, which launched in 2017. During the pandemic and recovering from a back injury, she started streaming Pvolve classes (maybe she’s not a Joe Wicks), warming to its low impact movements as an alternative to her usual high-octane workouts.
This year, she invested in the company (to add to her wellness portfolio which includes the collagen supplements brand Vital Proteins) now fronts its marketing campaigns. “I’m in better shape than I was in my twenties, I feel better in mind, body and spirit,” she says. Her ‘no pain, no gain’ exercise era is over now she’s in her fifties: “We have to be kinder to our bodies”.
As someone prone to over-exercising to the point of idiocy (running a half marathon in the snow with laryngitis? Guilty!) and increasingly plagued with injury and achy joints as I head through my forties, I’m intrigued by this sensible, gentler approach. Call me delusional, but I couldn’t help but wonder: would doing Pvolve make me look like Jen? Hmmm, let’s see.
What is Pvolve?
It’s a functional fitness programme that uses resistance equipment to sculpt and tone in a low impact way. Functional fitness is a buzz phrase that refers to exercises such as squats and lunges that mimic everyday movement, rather than, say, doing handstands.
There are 900 online classes on-demand and live streamed classes every day, although these are aimed at a US audience so the time difference means there’s nothing before 11.30am UK time.
Your muscles burn during a class but you don’t sweat, and there are lots of delicious stretches in the mix. Yoga and Pilates fans should definitely take a look.
Most classes require some Pvolve-branded equipment. I was given the Pvolve signature bundle ($199.99/ £164), which comprises three things.
- A square mat with numbered squares so you can easily work out where to place your feet
- Strap-on gloves with a resistance band running between them
- A small resistance ball with looped straps (you can do things like put your legs through the loops and squeeze it between your thighs).
This bundle also gives you month’s access to all the classes, which then costs $14.99 (£12) per month thereafter.
You can buy more bits of equipment separately or if you’re super keen, you can get the full kaboodle ($624.99/ £513), with 13 pieces of equipment, including hand and ankle weights, plus a year’s access to the classes.
Can you buy Pvolve in the UK?
Yes but you’ll be absolutely pounded for shipping, duty and tax. There are currently no UK stockists, so it’s shipped from the States. If you buy the $199 signature bundle, you will be charged $100/ £82 (I know!) in fees. Apparently there will be a sale in November so keep an eye on the website for that. You can’t really wing it and cobble together your own equipment and just pay for the classes. I’ve got resistance bands already, for example, but they’re not the same length/width as the Pvolve one, nor do they come with gloves. The movements are so precise, you need to do them properly with the proper kit.
What Pvolve is like?
In short, great. And I say that as someone who gets sent a lot of fitness equipment to test out, most of which sits in the corner of my office gathering dust. The attention to detail when it comes to the user experience is impeccable. You can filter classes to allow for your experience level, the time you have (five minutes to 60 minutes plus), the equipment you have, for where you are in your cycle (gentler classes for your luteal phase when you may feel more tired, for example), and so on.
Also there are separate volume controls for the instructors’ voices and the background music (clever!) and I liked the low key, relaxed vibe of the teachers – they were a bit less, um, American, and excitable than on some fitness platforms I’ve tried.
The square mat reminded me of chic, monochrome version of Twister - maybe Jen is a fan of the classic ‘80s party game? There’s less contortion going on here though, the moves are all fairly straightforward. And the equipment is easy to get to grips with (literally). It all feels very intuitive.
Does Pvolve really work?
Yes, I now can’t walk down the street without being mistaken for Jen… Not really but after a couple of weeks of doing early morning classes (in my PJs), I’m definitely toning up, especially around my upper arms. Even though the movements are simple, the added resistance element (from the equipment but also the inclusion of body weight resistance exercises like push-ups) means you really feel the burn a few reps in. You can definitely build strength and muscle here.
Pvolve – my verdict
It’s an excellent choice is you like a workout that’s low impact but yields results. It’s convenient, doesn’t need much space and is ideal for the dark, cold winter months when outdoor exercise has less appeal. If you can get over the initial daylight robbery shipping fees for the kit, it’s decent value, especially if you use it in place of a gym membership. But c’mon Pvolve, sort out some UK stockists pronto – we know you have Friends in high places.