Pros: Curves is a no-nonsense, private, and easy way to ease back into fitness.
Cons: Lack of knowledgeable staff, repetitive music. Inconsistent membership offerings.
After three months of 3-4x weekly visits to my local Curves, I finally feel like I can give an unbiased report.
First, let me explain that I'm starting from scratch. It's been many years since I've been active, and my weight and size has been growing steadily for years. I decided to do something about it, and started checking out local exercise facilities. It was very discouraging. I would have felt very out of place at these places; too old and too out of shape. I just couldn't see myself making a commitment to work out at a place where I feel uncomfortable.
Then Curves popped up at a local strip mall, directly between work and home. My first experience wasn't great; they didn't answer their phone OR return messages. So I dropped by and talked to one of the employees and a couple of the women who were there working out. I was drawn to Curves because of the privacy and because there were no men there. Also, there were other large women working out, of ALL ages. I decided to try a month-to-month membership. I later learned that there were other options available, like a 3 month membership that would have saved me $10 a month, but they didn't mention that.
Signing up was an experience. Pages and pages of what seemed like irrelevant questions. I can see asking for someone to contact in case of emergency, but some of the questions didn't make sense. They didn't object when I answered "irrelevant" or "N/A", though. After a fairly thorough measurement process that included a hand-held body fat analyzer, I was ready to work out.
At this particular Curves, you get guidance the first time you go around the circuit. The rest of the time you're on your own. The staff is too busy signing up new members to make sure your form is correct. Luckily for me, there were plenty of helpful women there who corrected my form when needed, and there are signs hanging from the ceiling with reminders to keep your elbows up, toes curled, etc.
My first couple of visits were awkward, getting to know the machines and figuring how to get on & off them. After that initial awkwardness, I was able to move smoothly through the circuit and get a decent work out.
There's not much to say about the workout that hasn't already been said. I like the 30-second per station structure because everyone gets equal time on each machine. The music gets old, though. I think they play the same song at the same time every day!
Curves recommends a monthly weigh-in and measurement, but due to the business of the staff, my first weigh-in happened at 6 weeks. After 6 weeks of exercise (and semi-dieting...I'm still working on that part), I'd lost 8 lbs and 14.5 inches. The 14.5 inches sounds like a lot, but it's a total of upper arms, bust, waist, hips, and thighs.
In my case, not quite enough to go down a size, but I sure breathed easier in my jeans! More importantly, I started feeling a little better and having a little more energy. Nothing dramatic, but it motivated me to work even harder. I'm hope to get weighed & measured again this week and I know there will be more inches lost because my clothes are getting loose.
Some of the women at my Curves complain that they're not losing. They seem to be the ones that only come once or twice a week, move slowly and talk throughout their workout. As other reviewers before me have mentioned, you DO have to work at it to get results.
The hours aren't the best (9am to 8pm M-F), the staff isn't very knowledgeable, and it can get tedious. However, if you're willing to take charge of your body and put in the work, Curves can serve as a transitional resource between the couch and an active life. I doubt that Curves will always fit my needs, but for now, it does.