Kegel-cize it!


by Cynthia Robins

I am seated on a chair in a bare workout room at The Greenhouse, one of the more posh women-only spas on the Goddess's Green Earth. Only the earth isn't green. It's mid-winter and the ground is covered with snow and two inches of "black ice," a situation in Dallas where nobody goes anywhere fast. Schools are closed. Nothing is moving. Not even the Greenhouse limo, which was to ferry most of these 30 women, who have paid close to $4,000 for the week, on a healing trip "over the wall" to the source of all retail pleasure: Neiman Marcus. So we're stuck because the limo driver doesn't want to chance any liability.

So now, 30 women who can't go shopping are bored, bored, bored. In other words: the inmates of this white filigreed, peach-upholstered, mink-lined self-torture chamber are getting restless. They've been Stepped and Pilatused, Watused and massaged up the wazoo. And there's not much left to do between facials and dinner but bitch about the weather.

A quick Sit-and-Be-Fit class has been inserted at a moment's notice by the Greenhouse's fitness staff. And it is commencing presently in the mirror-lined aerobics studio. We've had our delicious, fat-free 400-calorie lunch and, instead of slipping into something appropriate for retail madness at Neiman Marcus, ten or so women have opted to stay in their Greenhouse uniform—conservative, black cap-sleeved leotards (no thongs here, please)— and participate in yet another exercise class.

So, how do you sit and be fit?

I'll never pooh-pooh it again. More sweat and agony than trying to bench press 100 pounds. And it all started with us "doin' our Kegels."

Only the preternaturally peppy, terminally aerobicized women sporting a sprayed-on fuchsia catsuit who has been assigned to lead this class, isn't calling the rhythmic clenching and unclenching of what is basically a woman's sex muscle, "doin' your Kegels." Given that most of the women seated in this room are way over the age of consent and still wear white gloves when they go to church or lunch, it wasn't seemly to remind them that they'd ever had sex. Not even once. As my wise old Yiddish grandmother once said: "Vat vas, dollink, vas."

As a prelude to creating puddles of sweat down our backs, Jodie the instructor trilled out in a deep Texas drawl: "Tighten that little muscle that sort of looks like an O-ring as if you were supressing gas or trying to stop your urine flow." Ok. That works.

Jodie has got her rap down. Not even Catherine MacKinnon could be insulted by an sexual overtones in these instructions.

As I looked around the stark aerobics studio, I realized I was the only one under 60. So I wanted to see what kind of reaction there was on the faces of women whose gentility was written all over them. Most of them hadn't lived out of the sun, an indication that they'd spent their days on golf courses and tennis courts. They'd wintered in Sea Isle or the Bahamas and had never given a thought to sun damage, cancer or even early widowhood. Gold jewelry was common currency and it stayed on in the Jacuzzi, during pool exercises, yoga class and now, Sit-and-Be-Fit. So did their lima bean-sized diamonds. Their husbands, by and large, had been "in ohy-ll." And now, these lovely and lonely white-haired ladies who probably never uttered a swear words in their lives aloud, were bravely squeezing away, their backs ram-rod straight and their faces rapt in concentration.

Kegel. Kegel. Who's got the Kegel, anyhow?

Exercise your mouth!The squeezing of the pubococcygenus (or PC) muscle has been a natural adjunct to excellent sex since Adam nailed Eve. However, it took a physician named Dr. Arnold Kegel in 1952 to name it and to explain to the female populous that exercising it was a sure-fire way of not only increasing healthy muscle tone in the vagina, but guaranteeing it would heighten sexual pleasure for both them and their partner. The muscle tone part, Jodie the Perky described in decorous terms. She convinced The Ladies of the Greenhouse they would need these exercises to keep their backs upright, their spines straight and what was left of their uteruses in place as intercourse (the very best exercise for the PC muscle) became a fond memory.

I have to credit Jodie for urging these women, myself included, in her non-confrontational euphemisms, to do what all women should do: Squeeze, squeeze and strengthen.

The PC muscle, says sexologist Dr. Louane Cole, "acts as an anatomical sling supporting the pelvic organs." So while sex may have been a precious memory for these rich Texas women, they bravely followed orders, never connecting with the fact that their husbands got the benefits early on and probably never even heard of Dr. Arnold Kegel.   </end>

Cynthia Robins is the Beauty Editor of the San Francisco Examiner and thinks that kegeling is essential to inner beauty.

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