Pros: Simple concept, targeted at women, 30 minutes, 3 times a week
Cons: Not for serious workout-ers
I have always been what some people refer to as "well-endowed," but to be honest, I'm a bit more endowed than I would like. When I first heard of Curves for Women I thought, wow, if only I could cut down on my curves... the name appealed to me, and before I even learned anything else, I knew that it was geared toward women only. I had to check it out.
Not long after I heard about it, my Grandma (who is over 70, I believe --she won't tell me anything but that she's 19 years old--) informed me that her doctor told her to get over to Curves and start working out as soon as possible. Well my grandma and I are both procrastinators, so we decided to join together so we'd be more likely to go. And lo and behold, while I love going with grandma, I don't need to... its fun enough as it is!
The Curves website can be found at www.curvesinternational.com. On this website is a link where you can find a Curves near you. Very helpful!
What is Curves?
From the Curves website: Curves is the largest fitness franchise in the world with 7000 locations in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Mexico. We are the first fitness and weight loss facility dedicated to providing affordable, one-stop exercise and nutritional guidance to women.
The secret to our success is your success. We are currently helping over 2 million women achieve their fitness goals with our 30-minute Curves workout offered in a supportive, encouraging environment.
When you first visit Curves, you will have to fill out some paperwork which will take 30-60 minutes. The reason it takes so long is that the staff like to go over everything with you, and also I did the paperwork with my grandma, which may have made it take longer. They also take your measurements, weight, and body fat percentage, which they do every month. When you're ready for your first workout, an employee will walk through the cycle with you. At the Curves I go to, there are about 12 machines. The machines range in the area of your body they work on; there is one machine where you do squats (butt, legs), another where you pull the weight from side to side ("love handles"), another where you pull the weight up with your forearms (forearms), etc. In between each machine is a little stepper where you can walk in place, run in place, do knee-ups, etc. You jump in whenever you arrive, and spend 30 seconds at each station. Music plays in the background which makes it easier to jog to the beat, or lift to the beat. the staff at Curves suggest you go around the cycle 2-3 times, which takes 30-45 minutes, not including stretching afterward. They also suggest you go at least 3 times a week.
The machines use hydraulics, which means the faster you go, the harder the work. This is nice because it prevents you from having to change weight-amounts when you change machines. It also makes it right at your level-- I use to squat machine and get a good workout, then my grandma can and she gets a workout at her own level. Speaking of grandma...
... while I can't say this is true for every location (I've only been to one) the people that use the facilities at Curves are really supportive and friendly. There was a week when I couldn't go because I was having ankle and knee problems, and my grandma informed me that several of the women, including employees, were asking where I was and how I was doing. There is conversation to be had, as well. I actually work out at the same time a lunch lady from the middle school I went to 6 years ago does. Its fun to meet people who are on the same track as yourself.
After my first few trips to Curves (I joined February 19, 2004) I immediately started noticing changes, though not the kind I wanted. Like many women, I was hoping to see slimmer thighs and a smaller butt by the second week. This isn't the case at Curves; if you're looking for a 6-pack or if you are into serious training, you will want something more heavy-duty than Curves. I did notice, however, that I felt tons better about myself. Whether I'm immediately losing weight or not, I feel like I'm accomplishing something: I'm meeting new people (and for a person as shy as me, that's saying something), I'm spending more time with grandma, I'm toning my body, I'm eating better, I'm feeling higher amounts of self-esteem... the list can go on.
Many people comment, and I first thought the same thing, "Does 30 seconds at each station really give you enough time?" Well, here's my answer: I'm sure you're aware that its suggested that you do 12-15 repetitions of whatever exercise you do (excluding treadmills, running, stair steppers, that sort of thing), 2-3 times with breaks in between each set of 12-15 repetitions. I often count how many repetitions I do at each station at Curves, and I average 12-20, depending on the machine. Also, I go around the circuit 3 times usually, which means... I'm getting my 12-15 (or more) repetitions, 2-3 times each time I go. Also, when running/walking in place between each station, it allows my muscles to cool down slightly, avoiding strain, but it keeps my heart rate up.
The initial fee usually costs $140, but mine was cut in half since grandma had a coupon. And during the month of April, you could join for free (not including the monthly charge) if you brought in groceries, at least at my location. The monthly fee is about $30. For me, its totally been worth it.
Curves offers changing rooms and a bathroom, but no shower. I personally (though this may be too much information for some of you) sweat more than the average woman. There have been a few times that I would have liked a shower, but not many. They keep the room very cool, and I just don't think people would use the showers very often. I may be wrong, though. There is no day care. They ask that you find arrangements for your children so they don't bother the other women. Curves does sell water and protein shake mix. While I haven't bought any of their protein shake mix, I have purchased water from them, as I tend to forget to bring my own quite often. Unfortunately they don't have other amenities like massage or other more spa-like things.
Complaints... yes there are a few
As I said before, Curves isn't a place to go if you want to look good in a bikini in a month. Also, their hours really bother me; it's not a 24 hour fitness center. At my location, they are open Monday-Thursday 7am-12pm, 3pm-7pm. Friday 8am-12pm, 3pm-7pm. Saturday 8am-12pm. If you ask me, they would get more business if they stayed opened for lunch. Also, my mother would really like to join, but she can't because she works to jobs and would only be able to go about 2 times a week; its not worth the money to her. Some people have complained that the staff don't seem to know enough about what they are doing; I can say that there is at least one staff member at my location who definitely knows. She recently took and passed a test that qualifies her as a trainer, I believe. You might want to check into your location, because I doubt many locations have personal trainers.
Whether you go for fitness or exercise, weight loss, or just to aid a diet change, go ahead, give Cruves a try. It's easy to get a coupon for a free week or a free trip or two. The staff is friendly and love the business. I've noticed a few instances where, for example, a mother brought her teenage daughter, and the staff allowed the daughter to join her mother. I've seen women of all shapes, sizes, and ages, and haven't heard many complaints. The best part is: no men allowed! This may be just what you're looking for!