Let's get something clear right away: Both men and women have pelvic floor muscles, and most could benefit from knowing some pelvic floor exercises. Women sometimes have more dramatic pelvic floor issues than men because of pregnancy and childbirth, but the importance of a toned pelvic floor cannot be overstated for either gender.
As Marie Monahan points out in her DVD, Beyond Kegels, pelvic floor exercises can help you get a tighter tummy (especially the lower ab area), control incontinence, and may even improve your sex life. The pelvic floor is also an integral part of the Pilates powerhouse. That means it works in concert with a host of other muscles including the abdominal, butt, and back muscles to create strong efficient movement.
Kegel exercises have been the standard for pelvic floor strengthening exercises for many years. But why should we stop there? Kegels do work. They are wonderful for helping people tune into their pelvic floor, maybe for the first time; but Kegels are an isolation exercise. They don't help you feel the integration of the action of the pelvic floor with other kinds of movement. Frankly, some of us find Kegels alone a little boring as well. Now, what if you could tone your pelvic floor and some other muscles like your abs, glutes, and inner thighs at the same time?
For her DVD, Beyond Kegels, Marie Monahan put together a series of Pilates exercises that, with the extra resistance of the Pilates magic circle, activate the use of the pelvic floor. Of course, activating the pelvic floor has as much to do with attention and intention as anything else, but Monahan has chosen Pilates exercises that are well suited to helping you feel the activation of the pelvic floor, and how that supports the rest of the exercise. As an added bonus, the exercises in Beyond Kegels engage the whole body with a special focus on abs and yes, you asked for it, inner thighs.
Along with a warm up and introduction, there are 10 exercises on Beyond Kegels. They are fairly simple and Monahan is a good instructor, so I don't hesitate to recommend this DVD to anyone ready to devote a little time and attention to strengthening their pelvic floor. Do watch the introduction because it has valuable tips on how to make sure you activate the pelvic floor. The exercises develop from easy to more challenging levels and it only takes about 17 minutes to do them all - once you build up to that.
All of the pelvic floor exercises in Beyond Kegels use the Pilates magic circle. If you don't have one, you can buy one with the DVD or compare prices at pricegrabber. The magic circle is a wonderfully versatile piece of Pilates equipment. Learn more about it by reading Before You Buy a Magic Circle.
Beyond Kegels is available online