It's the workout no one wants to discuss in public—incredibly boring and with physical benefits that can't be admired in the mirror or photographed for Facebook. Yes, I am speaking of the dreaded Kegel workout. As far as exercise routines go, this one isn't on many ‘favorites’ lists. But new technology hopes to change all that.
SKEA (Smart Kegel Exercise Aid) is a hands-free game controller that probably won't give Microsoft's Kinect a run for its money, but it might end up in a lot of ladies’ purses. Inserted into the vagina, this particular controller is operated with the pelvic muscles, requiring the user to squeeze in order to play the game. Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign launched last summer that exceeded its goal, physicist Tom Chen’s innovative product is already in production with plans to launch by the end of January.
It’s a c-shaped sex toy that looks suspiciously like popular couples toy WeVibe and works in conjunction with a fitness app masquerading as a game. Another game called Alice In Continent was initially pitched to help women exercise their lady bits. As the site states: “Imagine playing Temple Run with Fitbit. Not with fingers, but with pelvic floor muscles!” Yes, Alice In Continent is a running game that requires vaginal squeezes to get your character to leap over obstacles. Though the game is temporarily suspended in favor of one that may be considered more user-friendly.
According to Chen, in the new game users will see colored squares falling from the top of the screen towards the bottom. When they reach the bottom there’s a line and similar to hitting a note on Guitar Hero, ladies, that’s the moment you squeeze on SKEA.
While undoubtedly interesting, there is some amount of embarrassment here for the user—are you becoming aroused (and how can a vibrating toy inserted in your lady bits not be?) or are you merely exercising? And if it’s both how do we feel about that?
And could the ladies of porn benefit from Kegel exercise games?
Ruby, AVN Hall of Fame porn star says: “I personally wouldn’t use it because I masturbate twice a day and that’s how I do my Kegels. It looks like it might be a fun toy, but I actually have one, it’s a sensual steel pussy weight that has a big ball on the end. Something like that would really strengthen you, but this is more of a sex toy than an exerciser. I think young women are going to try because it looks cool and new but older women are going to pass it right up.”
Jillian Janson, rising adult starlet, is a bit more bullish on SKEA. “I’ve never had to do Kegels,” she says. “I don’t know if its because I am so young or what, but I do use those muscles a lot so I can completely control my body. But I am fond of the idea. It sounds fun and entertaining as well as a workout.”
High Times’ “The Stoned Gamer” columnist and 2015 AVN Hall of Famer Alana Evans isn’t impressed by the lack of software. “Their sales pitch kind of annoyed me because as a gamer they make it sound like you’ll be able to play Temple with your vagina, but no, you can only play one game that they created,” Evans says. “It would appeal to me more if they offered more games, but that’s the gamer in me saying ‘gimme more’… it would be that thing you wouldn’t tell anyone you bought or were using.”
Chen believes the key concept behind SKEA is the gamification. “There are so many things in life that we know are important however it is just so boring to exercise them out so we just don’t do it,” says Chen. “Just like running to lose weight. Everybody knows it’s important but most people wouldn’t do it because it’s so boring and so tiring. Kegel exercises are one of these activities. It’s important, people know it, but people just won’t do it because it’s boring.”
Not only is it important for pelvic health, but studies also find that Kegel exercise can contribute to better orgasms and heighten the overall sexual experience for both partners. For some women, it can be the difference between a vagina that can “grip” and one that can’t.
Why does this matter? Well, Kegel exercises are proven to help women with urinary incontinence. And since almost fifty percent of middle-aged women will face this issue, it’s a pretty big deal.
While SKEA campaign backers ardently await the release of this new device, early design implementations have left commentators wondering if this is just another sex toy or a genuine medical device, as it so boldly claims.
One backer wrote named Ambimom wrote, “Why does the packaging say ‘couples massager’ and not kegel exerciser....which is what I invested in. Is this just another vibrator? or is it a way to perform kegel exercises?”
Chen says there have been some heavy debates about this type of confusion. “We don’t want to dilute the medical care side of things. So our solution is to separate the software but not the hardware,” says Chen. “So we will release two apps. One app will be just the training, just the Kegel exercise. And for those users who are also interested in the more erotic side of this device we’ll have a different app available.”
SKEA isn’t the first device to assist women with their boring Kegel exercises. There was another Kickstarter for kGoal, a similar device but with a lot less flash and no gaming aspect. The kGoal stirred up so much excitement it more than doubled its $90,000 goal. With its thick bulbous design, it has none of the sleek style of the SKEA and more closely resembles an exercise tool. It connects with an app to track pelvic floor movements. “kGoal can measure and keep track of everything from muscle strength to endurance to which exercises you did and when you did them,” reads the site. It’s clearly not a sex toy, which might appeal to more people, but it also lacks the panache of SKEA. After all, who doesn’t want to turn an exercise into a game?