helped bring Cristin Taylorís first child into the world, a
joy that outweighed the pain of the fourth-degree tear Taylor
suffered in her perineum during the birth. The wounds closed,
but Taylor still struggled with urinary incontinence. Sheíd
leak when she ran, coughed or brushed her teeth.
decadelong battle with her bladder raged through Kegel
exercises, the birth of another daughter and physical therapy
(not with a pelvic floor specialist). Taylor resorted to surgery
to insert mesh support, in hopes of correcting what had been
diagnosed as a tilt in her bladder neck. After six weeks of
recovery, the incontinence continued ó now accompanied by
numbness that dulled her sex life. "It was like a foot that
had fallen asleep."
Taylor and a friend tried a new fitness class at a gym near her
home in Satellite Beach, Fla. Called Fluidity, the class uses an
adjustable-height barre to strengthen all muscle groups but
particularly the lowest and innermost structures of the core,
what Fluidity founder Michelle Austin calls "the inner
talked a lot about the pelvic floor and alignment
awareness," Taylor said. "They had three classes a
week, and I came every time I could. Within six months, I was
noticing huge changes in my life, including a wonderful, more
connected sex life with my husband."
Taylor were the original target for Austinís Fluidity regimen,
which has been taught at gyms and rehabilitation centers around
the country for over a decade. But in the last year Fluidity has
been noticed and recommended by Microgate USA, a company that
specializes in movement analytics to help everyone from
professional athletes to the elderly and Parkinsonís patients.
benefit from the regimen, Austin said, which revolves around a
barre with a backboard that rises from the floor. The ability to
adjust the Fluidity barre to hip height is key, Austin said,
because it reduces the tendency to perform exercises in a
posterior tilt, which compromises alignment and effectiveness of
some barre workouts.
goal: to correct pelvic instability that can contribute to
chronic complaints such as incontinence, back pain, sexual
dysfunction and loss of balance as we age.
concept emerged from Austinís resolve to rehabilitate herself
after cancer and a full hysterectomy at age 42, combined with
her training in the Lotte Berk barre method, which Austin taught
in the 1990s in New York City.
hysterectomies, theyíre taking out an organ, if not several,
and thereís no rehab," Austin said. "Itís
classes now are held at rehabilitation centers and gyms around
the country. An at-home counterpart includes a collapsible barre,
DVDs, mat, ball and bands.
pelvic-floor muscles often become dysfunctional after
childbirth, gynecological surgery, illness such as urinary tract
infections, or just from disuse, says Cindy Neville, a physical
therapist specializing in womenís health who is on clinical
faculty at the University of Northern Florida.
dysfunction can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse, where the
vaginal walls or cervix drop, as well as incontinence, estimated
to affect 30 to 40 percent of middle-aged women and 30 to 50
percent of elderly women.
suffer in silence. If they seek treatment, doctors sometimes
recommend a surgery like Taylorís. Of the 400,000 pelvic floor
surgeries annually in the U.S., 120,000 of those are repeats,
Neville said, suggesting that surgery isnít solving the
people are afraid to talk about the pelvic floor muscles; itís
like breast cancer 20 years ago; to say the word breast was
almost pornographic in our culture," she said.
recommends Fluidity to some of her patients.
Fluidity thereís not an emphasis on bending forward or
rounding forward, itís more balanced with the front and back
of the body, versus always being the front of the body, which so
many things focus on," Neville said. "The neutral
pelvis and engaging the deep core, including the pelvic floor,
are very effective."
Gorman, the president of Microgate USA who holds several patents
on heart rate monitors, met Austin at a deli counter in Florida
over Thanksgiving in 2014.
didnít know what Fluidity was, but she and I were speaking the
same language," he said. "As you lose integrity in
your core, especially your inner core, things happen; you can
get physiological changes from anatomical deficiency."
curious enough about her method to observe her Fluidity class,
where Austin guided participants into what she calls the
"neutral pelvis" position: Wrap thumb and index finger
around the right hip and around the left hip and tilt the pelvis
all the way forward and all the way back. When you find the
position where the wrist feels relaxed between those two places,
thatís neutral pelvis.
position, the muscles can contract and relax more effectively to
not just tone the body but re-establish the stability of the
inner core and pelvic floor.
thinks the Fluidity regimen has applications beyond fixing
incontinence, which he views as an early warning sign for
problems that become life-threatening as we age.
we march through life, we lose our balance control," Gorman
said. "The average 53-year-old should be able to stand on
one leg with eyes closed for 15 seconds. If she canít, sheís
at a higher risk (of deadly falls). So, what if we put her in a
program where besides just feeling good and losing some pounds
ó hey, letís all go to Ipanema together! ó but also, her
balance, timing and coordination improved? By doing that sheís
basically learned to grow younger."
after starting Fluidity, Taylor visited a cranial sacral
therapist who evaluated her muscle control.
reported I have 360 degrees of strength in my pelvic floor,
which to her was phenomenal, regardless of what I recovered
from," Taylor said.
isnít a cheap or instant cure, she noted. When she is busy and
goes on hiatus from her Fluidity workouts, she notices her
bladder control starts to lapse. Itís one reason she invested
in the barre system for her home.
feel like I have this tool," Taylor said, "and I can
always heal myself."