“Start doing your Kegels now, ladies. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.”
I was 14 at the time, sitting in my high school friend’s kitchen. Her mother, a free-spirited Bel Air mom, had uttered these words to our pubescent pack over guacamole and chips. Days later, I would find myself in AP history, clinching my thighs and butt cheeks together, believing only half-heartedly that one day this would matter.
Meet Emsella, the Kegel Throne
Twenty years later, I found myself sitting in a chair again talking about Kegels, but this time, it was at the Upper East Side’s posh VSPOT Medi Spa. I was welcomed in an airy, ivory-colored waiting room, where champagne and vaginal empowerment are sold.
The word first introduced to me as a teenager was still elusive, but luckily, VSPOT’s owner Cindy Barshop was there to help me set the record straight. “Kegels have been around for 69 years, but the problem is that nobody really knows how to do them correctly,” she says. “We have magazines, we have the Kegel machines, we have apps for Kegels, but nobody is really telling you how to engage the 10 pelvic floor muscles.”
I nodded my head in agreement, thinking back to my failed attempts of “Kegel-ing” over the years.
“The pelvic area is the part of the body that bears the children, but also gives you pleasure,” Barshop continued. “Why would we exercise every part of our body and not the core muscles that are giving us pleasure?”
Reclaiming pleasure is exactly why VSPOT exists. Barshop hopes the spa can serve as a safe space for women to address their sexual health concerns, from achieving orgasms to remedying painful sex. They offer services ranging from vaginal tightening with treatments like FemiLift to steaming services, as well as consultations from their two onsite gynecologists.
I was there to sit on the “Kegel Throne,” called BTL Emsella, new to the medical aesthetic market this year. VSPOT is one of the first medical spas in the nation to have one.
The chair is designed to do the work of Kegels while you sit back and relax. According to the BTL Emsella website, it uses “High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic technology (HIFEM) to cause deep pelvic floor muscles stimulation and restoration of the neuromuscular control.” If done twice a week for three weeks, it should help improve stress incontinence and vaginal tightening. Approximately 18 million suffer from urinary incontinence, which is certainly a number to take seriously. It’s also why there are more and more treatments for non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation. So far, about 150 women have tried the chair at VPOT, according to Barshop.
“Most of the muscles go through atrophy as we get older, and that’s why some people pee their pants. There are going to be more adult diapers sold than baby diapers at some point. Why is it that the norm that you laughed so hard you peed in your pants? That’s supposed to be OK? It’s not. This is the anatomy of a woman and we have to exercise those muscles.”
Message received, Cindy. I was ready to work it out.
What the Kegel throne is like
I entered the room, a comfy space containing just an examination table, flatscreen TV and … THE chair. There was nothing super-techy or intimidating about it, which I loved. I was also told I could keep all my clothes on, which made the whole procedure seem even more intriguing. I was walked through what the chair signals would feel like, then the show began.
The sensation was similar to a strong buzzing feeling being sent through the legs. Dare I say, it was even slightly pleasurable. In addition to consistent electromagnetic waves, there are also slower, targeted waves ever so often, sort of like a dramatic countdown to Kegel victory.
At $300 per treatment (VSPOT offers a package of six for $1,500), Barshop says that you should sit on the Kegel throne about one or two times per week to build up results. And those who have tried it are raving about it so far.
“There is so much confidence that comes from this,” one VPOT client told Barshop. “On average I noticed I was getting up four to five times a night [to go to the bathroom]. Now I get up one time a night. It’s game-changing.”
“Twenty-five or 30 minutes, I just sat on this chair reading a magazine,” said another VPOT reviewer. “That is probably the most I ever sat down and relaxed in my normal day.”
“I can go running and the gym without wearing a pad,” says yet another. “This has truly changed my life!”
After 35 minutes of buzzing and watching Netflix’s The Crown, I was done with my first round on the Kegel throne. And yes, I did feel quite regal. Cindy reminded me that the best results come with continued visits for at least three weeks. And thus, my Kegel journey has begun. I think my friend’s mother would be proud. Better late than never.