Pros: Excellent workout that is challenging and effective, very supportive environment, time and cost efficient.
Cons: Hours may be too limiting for some.
I wanted to post this review because I had read so many reviews of Curves here that stated the workout was too easy and this is simply not the case!
I am a 31 year old physical therapist who is currently about 40 pounds overweight. I began Curves two months ago and have lost a total of 15 pounds and 8 inches since I began. I am also following a reduced refined carbohydrate diet plan with emphasis on high fiber and vegetable intake. I also think it's interesting to note that during my first month at Curves, due to traveling I was only able to exercise twice a week (instead of the recommended three times) and I was going to weddings and family events and ate basically a ton of junk for a month straight...I still lost 2 pounds and 3.5 inches!
I have been a very active person all my life, I played many sports and have worked out at traditional gyms doing traditional weight lifting. I found as I got older that I was less and less interested in these types of "meat market" gyms...very young people with perfect bodies, checking each other out, lots of judgement (at least that's the way I perceived it, could be my own issue). At any rate, I was comfortable using all the equipment at the regular gym yet I still felt intimidated, and it was so boring! I found it very difficult to even get motivated to go to the gym, then when I got there I simply could not push myself to do weight workouts alone.
After settling into married life the past few years I slowly stopped exercising and began eating more until I found myself very overweight with no energy for my very physical job. I began walking two miles a day and this helped somewhat with my energy level but did nothing for weight loss. I got a coupon to try Curves free for a week so that's what I did in March of this year.
My first impression was very positive...I called our local Curves and asked when would be a good time to meet with someone to discuss joining...I really recommend doing this as if you just show up unannounced the attendant may be too busy with others to really spend time with you. The owner was very friendly. At our first meeting she asked me about my lifestyle, my fitness and nutrition goals, what kinds of things I was doing now...I really felt she cared and wanted to help me make a good start.
We did weight and inch measurements along with body fat analysis and then did my first Curves workout. She walked through the entire circuit with me, showed me how to use each machine, reviewed how to take my pulse and how to tell if I was in my target heart rate range, how to modify some of the machines because I am very tall...she was great and I found all of the equipment really easy to get used to. I really like the recovery boards, you can dance, run in place, do jumping jacks, whatever you want. To me it is very fun and I love the jazzed up versions of popular songs that they play, it keeps me motivated. My very favorite aspect of the Curves workout is that no matter how hard an exercise is for me, how much I hate it...I only have to do it for 30 seconds! Then I get to move on to something else.
For those who say this workout is "too easy", the unfortunate truth is that you are the one making it too easy. These hydraulic machines resist more the harder you push/pull, there is no maximum limit, it is physically impossible to outgrow them. Of course, it is all too easy to get on the machine and start aimlessly pushing and pulling while you chit chat with your neighbor. To get real results with any type of exercise you have to totally focus on what you are doing, visualize the muscles you are using, and push/pull with all you've got. Also, the stronger you get the faster you can push/pull, which means you get more repetitions in per set. In short, you get out exactly what you put in.
Weights and measures are done once a month at Curves and you get a printed "report card" with a graph that shows how many inches and pounds you've lost...talk about motivation! I love posting my report card on the fridge...it reminds me when I reach for a snack to pick something healthy so I don't undo all the good work I've done. You also get a Curves "buck" for every pound and inch you lose, you can save the bucks and trade them in for Curves t-shirts, towels, etc. They also have some type of contest once a week where you can win more bucks. I find this also very motivational and fun.
As a PT, I work with a lot of special populations who have to be careful when working out not to overdo or hurt themselves. Curves is the safest workout I have seen for people of any fitness level. Now, if you have special needs, please don't assume that the owner/attendant of your Curves will know how to help you...they are not certified health professionals. As a courtesy to my clients I will go to their gym with them and help modify any exercises they need help with...ask your health professional to do this for you, or bring them a picture of the machines used at your Curves and ask if there are any you shouldn't do or that may need to be modified. Take responsibility for your own needs and you'll be on your way.
Curves costs much less than conventional gyms with no contracts if you choose that option (my Curves is $29/month for a year membership, $39 if you do month-to-month) with a one time sign up fee of $150...from what I understand they frequently run a special where this fee is only $75, that is what I paid. Many employers who offer fitness incentives will help subsidize the cost of your Curves membership.
The thing I love most about Curves is the efficiency of it...30 minutes and you've done a complete workout...I take a little more time and do some more aggressive stretching, but with travel time included it is one hour from home to home for me. There is no doubt that strength training is the best way to lose inches and firm up muscle, and to me there is just nothing better than having my strength training combined with aerobics...it really beats doing 30 minutes of cardio at the gym on the boring treadmill or elliptical trainer, then a whole other 45 minutes to an hour to do strength training, messing around with weight stacks, and keeping track of reps/weights...I just don't have time for it.
I am also deeply impressed by the commitment of Curves to provide a nurturing environment for women. You're made to feel good because you're taking the time to do something just for you, and how many of us reward ourselves for that? My Curves workouts make me feel strong and vibrant...I know I won't outgrow them as long as I continue to push myself...and for me that is really the goal, learning to make my health and my fitness a priority, to stop feeling like a victim and take complete responsibility for my weight.
The only con I have seen at my Curves is the hours of operation, 7-12 AM and 3-7 pm M-S. I am fortunate enough to be self-employed and can work with this, but it could be very limiting for others.