P.volve Founder Rachel Katzman Discusses The Fitness Brand's Evolution Toward Holistic Health – Forbes
Rachel Katzman cofounded P.volve in 2017.
After experiencing her own transformation through fitness, Rachel Katzman realized that a workout could be much more than just physical results, and she was inspired to share this discovery with others. So, in 2017, she cofounded P.volve with the goal of creating not just a new workout but an entirely new way of life.
The functional movement brand was an immediate hit in New York and quickly attracted a large and star-studded following. When Covid struck, P.volve pivoted its attention to online offerings, building out an impressive array of on-demand classes and a brand new app, but it also found a way to follow through on pre-pandemic plans to open studios in Los Angeles and Chicago. With a hybrid in-person-online model now alive and well at the brand, P.volve has become a success story in the fitness world and an inspiration to others in the space. But even so, Katzman felt that it was high time for a rebrand—or as she likes to put it, a brand evolution—at P.volve, one that takes a more holistic approach by bridging the gap between fitness and healthcare.
Read on to hear what Katzman has in store for the brand, how a change in her personal life brought on a need for change in her business, and why P.volve is partnering with healthcare providers to make its method accessible to those who need it most.
Gabby Shacknai: How have the last few years impacted P.volve, and how has the brand ethos shifted as a result?
Rachel Katzman: The world changed, and we all experienced a shift in priorities during Covid. We were forced to slow down, adjust and adapt. We all rediscovered the importance of being well and being connected, not only to our bodies, but to each other, and daily movement became more important than ever—whether for five minutes or 55 minutes. While we can’t control the chaos outside of us, we can control how we treat and prioritize our bodies and ourselves.
With this shift, our brand put a heavy focus on recovery + stretch classes and also launched meditation and mindfulness. We wanted our platform to become a holistic experience where members can find the type of movement that their body needs on any given day, knowing that our needs change month to month, week to week, and day to day. With stressors at an all-time high, we wanted our community to come to P.volve for that intentional and much-needed slow down and restoration of their mind and muscles. Our new brand identity celebrates and pays homage to the natural connection we have with ourselves, our ever-evolving worlds, and how our powerful movement continues to progress with you.
Shacknai: Notably, you and your ex-husband and P.volve cofounder, Stephen Pasterino, went through a divorce after launching the brand. How do you think that experience has impacted your approach to the brand in the years since and your approach to this brand evolution now?
Katzman: Not too many people know this, but before Stephen was my husband and cofounder, he was my trainer. He taught me the foundations of functional fitness and how I can look and feel amazing without breaking my body down. After several months of working together, I noticed that the pain from my scoliosis was significantly better and I felt more open in parts of my body that I’d never felt or understood before. This was my ‘aha’ moment: you can actually help heal your body through movement and also obtain the physical results you’re looking for and also function better. I needed to share this special sauce with women all across the world.
I wanted to, and needed to, dig more into the world of functional fitness and learn what other possibilities there were with this type of movement. In order to learn, grow, and make monumental strides within this industry, I brought in physiologists, doctors, physical therapists, and OBGYNs to help formulate a functional movement program for women that would go beyond the traditional fitness landscape—something that could truly be a form of fitness that will make you look amazing while feeling amazing throughout every stage of a woman’s life.
People don’t realize the strain and pressure of leading a company, let alone a startup, that your husband is a part of. I always had to put the company first and continue to make decisions that would drive us forward, but behind closed doors, our marriage wasn’t sustainable, and we realized that we wanted different things. The company was evolving, and we were evolving with it. I used to think, ‘Will this company not succeed if we aren’t together?’ but I knew that if I wasn’t happy, the company wasn’t going to succeed. So together, we needed to make the incredibly hard but important decision to go our separate ways.
Once I was open and honest with my team and more importantly myself, I was able to work through our separation during Covid and connect internally. This was a chance to grow, reflect, and to be better; this is what our new brand identity is all about—constantly evolving, growing, adapting, and changing. Throughout my personal journey and my own evolution, P.volve has always been the answer to me.
Shacknai: Why did you feel that now was the best time to evolve P.volve?
Katzman: We’ve always been evolving, and that’s the beauty of this method. As a startup, there are a million things that have to get done and you have to prioritize. There is limited time, resources, and money, and I’ve always felt this formal brand revamp was needed, but it wasn’t on the top of the priority list. When Covid hit, what the world went through changed the way people looked at themselves and looked at movement. Personally, I went through my divorce and a Lyme diagnosis, which undoubtedly changed me. These transformational moments made me realize that now is the time to share the work we’ve been doing behind closed doors, and that we weren’t representative of the way we talked or felt about our brand.
P.volve has always been ahead of our time. We were focusing on pelvic floor exercises and content before anyone else was talking about it; we were educating our members on intentional and functional movement when everyone else was telling you to fatigue your muscles. Now, in an almost post-Covid world, the fitness and wellness industry is catching up and finally starting to understand and cater to women’s needs. Everyone wants to feel good, be well, and live a long life, but we’re not going to be able to do that by breaking down our bodies with fast, high-impact workouts. Now is the time to share what we’ve been working on—from our clinical trials and movement therapy programs to our first-to-market recovery supplement and more —and we needed our brand identity to match what we’ve been working towards.
P.volve’s brand evolution includes a new recovery supplement and movement therapy programming.
Shacknai: How would you describe P.volve’s new brand identity?
Katzman: Our new brand identity is inspired by the natural connection and the rehabilitative properties of the P.volve Method. By celebrating, educating, and honing in on the fluidity of nature and similarly, the human body, natural connection is the sacred link we have with ourselves. Through organic colors, imagery, programs, and tone, we wanted to portray how your body yearns for different things as you enter into new phases of your life; you’re not the same person you were 10 years ago, five years ago, or even three years ago, and P.volve will evolve alongside you.
Shacknai: Tell me about P.volve’s new fitness category, Movement Therapy. What exactly does that mean, and what will it involve?
Katzman: This category is truly bridging the gap between fitness and healthcare. Created with our expert trainers in partnership with our Clinical Advisory Board, these programs deliver strong, balanced, and resilient physiques, while addressing the pain points and sensitivities that patients and members commonly experience and educating women about their bodies and how movement can be part of their solution. This includes female-specific need-states, such as pelvic floor health, managing symptoms related to menstrual cycle, workouts for pre and post natal, and managing with endometriosis. It also addresses everyday aches and pains related to knees, hips, back, wrists, and more. We are continuously expanding this category based on common issues and sensitivities that our clinicians see with their patience and our trainers with our members.
Shacknai: Why did P.volve decide to take a more holistic approach to health and wellness, going beyond just fitness and encompassing medicine, traditional healthcare, supplements, and more?
Katzman: We exist to help women feel powerful in their mind and body for life and have always known that movement is one piece of a larger, holistic puzzle. To move your best and to feel your best, you have to look at the entire body. Our new recovery supplement, Recover 9 is designed to help reduce soreness, restore muscle function, and build lean muscle. We developed this to keep our promise of helping women heal faster and move daily. We partnered with healthcare companies, including Medicare, because everyone should have access to functional movement no matter what. We built a prestigious Clinical Advisory Board to help craft our workout programs because doctors, OBGYNs, and physical therapists should be at the forefront of women’s fitness. As we have expanded into other categories, including meditation and supplements, we’re allowing our members to move daily and experience the power of holistic living.
Shacknai: Tell me about the addition of a Clinical Advisory Board. What purpose will that serve in the larger rebrand?
Katzman: In order to create programs that can truly help restore and strengthen women’s bodies, I knew that we had to bring in experts that specialize in the female body and physiology. We need to make sure that we are educating women about their bodies properly and giving them movement that can be part of both their rehabilitation journey but also their prevention journey. We are proud to have expert leads in physical therapy, pelvic floor, exercise science, human physiology, and gynecology work with us and our trainers to develop programs, equipment, supplements, and more. They will continue to serve as an integral part of our team as we expand our offerings, specifically in movement therapy and supplements.
Shacknai: What about the Member Advisory Board? Why do you think listening to members and learning about their experience with the brand is so crucial?
Katzman: We are in the business of helping women, and that starts with our members. Since launch, we have always looked to our members to help drive business decisions and get feedback—the good, bad, and ugly. At the end of the day, I can think I have an amazing idea, but if it doesn’t land with our members, we don’t move forward with it. We are here to provide the best possible experience and deliver the A+ class content that they are looking for. I try to talk to at least one member weekly to understand their experience with P.volve, what we could do better, and what has really worked for them. We also invite a member to our weekly all-hands meeting so the entire team can hear directly from them. Our members are everything to us, and we need to make sure that we continue to serve them everyday.
P.volve’s brand evolution puts women of all ages, at every stage in life, at the center.
Shacknai: What is the idea behind the new Prescribing P.volve program?
Katzman: This is a pilot program that our first CAB member, Dr. Amy Hoover, is spearheading with a small network of doctors. Dr. Amy has seen results firsthand with her patients who come to her because they need to strengthen, restore, or manage pelvic floor issues. She is working in tandem with a standout network of doctors to prescribe P.volve as part of their treatment plan. As this program evolves, it will be further built out, and we hope it will be documented within medical journals, clinical studies and more.
Shacknai: How have you gone about about forging partnerships with established healthcare players, like Ovia Health, Parsley Health, and even Medicare for this rebrand?
Katzman: Internally, this has always been our approach, but now, we’re ready to share with the world what we’ve been working towards. These healthcare partners were ready to take this next, game-changing step with us and make the P.volve Method accessible to those who need it most. Movement can be more than six-pack abs and a lifted butt. Together, we are creating a strong, holistic approach to helping women take control of their bodies and manage their sensitivities.
Shacknai: What will these partnerships look like, and how will they shape the P.volve customer experience?
Katzman: There are other thought leaders in the health and wellness space that are helping solve problems for women. They are providing solutions and resources for women from chronic pelvic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, lower back injuries, and so much more. Together, we can do more, and movement is only one piece of the puzzle. With these partnerships, we are trying to make women’s healthcare needs accessible for everyone and create personalized content for other platforms, like Ovia Health, to touch their customers in a meaningful way.
Shacknai: Do you think this rebrand will bring a new type of customer to P.volve? Who would you say is your target demo?
Katzman: This rebrand will expand and reach women from early 30s, to the mom, to the menopausal and beyond. Our target demo is females 30+, but we can really reach women throughout their entire lives. Now, with the accurate branding and portrayal of who we are, we are more effectively speaking to our members and the women that can benefit from our Method.
Shacknai: Will P.volve’s existing content live on? Or will this really be a complete and total makeover for the brand?
Katzman: All of our on demand content will live on. Some of our older videos are still my favorite and more importantly, our members favorites! We will be doing a total overhaul of our Instagram and Facebook channels, and our new look will be front and center within our website, marketing channels, social platforms, and brick-and-mortar studios.
Shacknai: P.volve has always placed particular focus on women, at every stage in life, but this rebrand seems to do so even more. Why do you feel that’s such an important move? Are you hoping this fills some of the voids women currently experience in the health space?
Katzman: Women experience so many sensitivities and changes in their body throughout their lifetime, and we have been underserved by traditional fitness for too long. From our menstrual cycle to pregnancy to menopause and everything in between, like pelvic floor dysfunction, endometriosis, and more, women have never been given the tools to not only understand their body but also help their body. Even for those who are just looking to have that strong, sculpted physique, we are here and ready for you.
We’ve always been told that what we experience is common, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s okay; we shouldn’t have to live in discomfort or pain, and we should be able to understand and take control of the imbalances that may cause that. Now, with the P.volve Method, movement can help heal and give you what you need to thrive at any stage of life. Ultimately, we want women to take control of their bodies and feel empowered so they can feel and live their best.