For those unfamiliar with the concept of coordinating your workouts with your menstrual cycle, it typically entails picking workouts that cater to hormonal fluctuations and the symptoms your body is experiencing during specific phases of the menstrual cycle. Some experts say this, in turn, may yield a more effective exercise routine.
Not sure how to get started on that? A new customizable online health and fitness program from P.volve (a functional fitness method that prioritizes low-impact, dynamic joint movements) dubbed Phase and Function seeks to make the process of pairing your workouts with your cycle a little easier while soothing physical symptoms and still delivering results along the way.
The program — which was developed with a team of certified fitness instructors, a registered dietitian, and an ob-gyn — allows users to completely personalize their fitness routines and meals based on their own menstrual cycle.
The first step involves entering information about your menstrual cycle, including how long it is and how long your periods are, in order to determine what menstrual cycle phase you're in.
Then, workouts are populated that focus on what the body may need or want during the menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. Each workout also fits within one of the fitness brand's three class categories: Strength and Sculpt, Cardio Burn, or Recover and Stretch. As you start a new cycle, a new plan of workouts will populate.
"Each phase of a cycle requires unique attention, and using the structure and guidance of Phase and Function will aid in moving from one phase to the next," Alexia Acebo, a P.volve instructor and NASM-certified trainer who helped develop the program, told POPSUGAR. "For example, when your period begins at the start of your menstrual phase, you may feel more fatigued and crave slower, restorative movement. As your period ends and you move into the follicular phase, you may feel more energy rising, have a more positive outlook, and want to try new things."
Acebo continues by explaining that in the ovulatory phase, your energy is actually at the highest, so intense workouts might be more your speed. During the luteal phase, workouts will be curated that correspond to a decline in energy and possible PMS symptoms.
Apart from workouts, the Phase and Function program also includes meal ideas that were designed by Acebo, Vanessa Rissetto, MS, RD, CDN, and Suman Tewari, MD, the fitness program's advisory board ob-gyn, to nourish and support your body during the phases of the menstrual cycle.
I was invited by the brand to preview a sampling of the program prior to its launch and left with a new appreciation for my energy levels during my ovulatory phase (the menstrual cycle phase I was in at the time).
The class was led by Acebo and Maeve McEwen, a fellow P.volve trainer and NASM-certified personal trainer.
While we tried small segments of classes that would correspond to each menstrual cycle phase, the instructors told us to really focus in on the movements of our current personal phase. As I was in my ovulatory phase, they mentioned that my energy levels may be higher and my body may be more equipped to handle an intense workout. So, during that portion of the class, I pushed myself to try the more advanced modifications and pick up the pace. I ended up surprising myself at how much I was able to do without a break.
I knew I was in my ovulatory phase when I walked in the door that day (I regularly track my menstrual cycle), but I hadn't realized just how that information could make a noticeable impact in my daily exercise. So, when my period rolls around, I think I might just ditch my morning run and take advantage of that slow-flow movement.
Phase and Function is exclusively offered online now at $179 for an annual membership or $20 for a monthly membership.