Pros: Easy, if that's what you want
Cons: Not a good work out, boring, not effective enough
I worked out there and didn't even break a sweat. It was boring, the music was terrible, and I felt like it was a waste of time and money. In a half hour I could go for a fast paced walk and at least break a sweat and see some decent scenery.
It is ideal for people who are a) embarrassed to go somewhere else, such as gyms with men in them
b) have never worked out before and want to start a program
c) are injured and cannot do a regular work out
d) are extremely out of shape and need a place to begin
How it works:
The packages are usually around 30 dollars a month with a 100 dollar registration fee. I was able to get a student membership which was 100 dollars for 3 months, so I did not sign the year long contract that most people sign. Before you sign up, you need to make an appointment with the Curves sales person/trainer (for lack of a better word) who discusses with you the program and your reasons for joining. They weigh and measure you as well as take your body fat measurements. One thing I found strange about this registration process was one of the questions they asked on the application: "How does your husband feel about your starting an exercise program?" Now, this to some may not seem too strange, but it really tells me a lot about who they expect as their clientele, and young single college students are not on their list. Not to mention that I live in an area with a high population of gays and lesbians. When I mention this to the woman at the gym she said everything comes from the management in Texas and they have no control over the application process.
Once you are weighed and measured, they take you on a trip around the circuit. The circuit consists of 5-10 machines alternated with several bouncy floor mats. The number of machines is dependant on the size of the location and the number of members. Because Curves is a franchise, this varies greatly from location to location.
How the circuit works:
You start by using one of the machines. They are similar to regular weight machines, and work the abs, legs and arms, but they use your own resistance instead of weights that need to be changed. This works well for the time restraint of 60 seconds, but your body soon becomes used to the resistance offered by your own force and the workout becomes easy very quickly. You use each machine for about 60 seconds, or 12-15 reps. Then a prerecorded voice tells you to switch places, and you move to one of the mats, where you can jog, march or dance in place. You continue on the circuit for 25 minutes. Every 5 minutes you are asked to stop and check your heart rate. Mine never elevated to the recommended percentage, even when I jogged quickly on the mats and pushed the machines my hardest.
The music played at the gym was equally terrible, and often so slow that I felt more like sleeping that sweating! It was usually some sort of elevator muzak or golden oldies.
After working out there is a series of stretches that you are to do as a cool down.
The facilities: The gym I went to was very small, about the size of a small retail shop. There was a front desk, and a small consulting area with the scale, and a table and chairs to fill out the forms and meet with the ladies who register you and do the "training." There was a small bathroom and a changing room with a curtain. There was also a set of cubbies for everyones things. While this is a gym that advertises to women on the go, not having a locker room or shower can really cut into your time, since after working out you have to go back home and shower and change. Of course, if you aren't sweating- then it probably doesn't matter much.
Hours: The Curves I attended was only open 6-10 am, then closed during lunch and opened again at 11 am until 7 pm on the weekdays and not open at all on the week ends. These hours were terrible, and some days I missed working out because I had to stay late at work or got stuck in traffic. On several occasions I have driven by to see women standing at the door looking in, wondering why the gym wasn't open!
For $30 a month, you could join the YMCA or a regular gym, have access to the same machines plus more, including probably a pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, personal trainers and all that other stuff. I switched to another gym, and have not regretted it once!
My advice, if you MUST join Curves, is to also get a little bit of aerobic activity such as walking or swimming in 3-4 times a week. That is the only way this gym will give you results! I work with women who have gone to Curves 3x a week for over a year with very little change in their physical appearance. I found the results much better at a more traditional gym where there were more choices and the workout actually worked me out.