Pros: No men, 30 minute workouts, easy to follow routine, social, fast
Cons: Gets boring, no way to move up when your fitness levels boosts
My sister and I thought we needed to get to a gym and workout and doing it together would be motivating. We chose Curves in Cicero, NY because it was close by us both and looked easy, taking only 30 minutes to complete the whole circuit. For us, it was not motivating enough nor do I feel I got enough benefit from it. However, for beginners, it could be the start of a fitter lifestyle.
Curves for Women is a franchise and there are hundreds of these gyms across the country and the world. They are all intermittently the same in set up with the exception being the size of the room, the type of instruction you get, and the hours of operation. Some Curves gyms have 12 machines, some have 10. Some still have just eight. Each one is slightly different so it is to your benefit to explore the one you are considering before making any decisions. My review is on the Curves that I belonged to in my home town.
My Experience at Curves
Curves for Women is an all women "gym" with 12 hydraulic machines and 12 wooden planks called recovery stations. At our Curves, there was not much to the place. There was a desk where the owner sat, a scale, a small coat rack, and the one room that housed a semi circle of machines and recovery stations. Behind the machines was a warming up and cooling down area, a few open lockers for purses and other personal items, and a couple of curtained changing rooms. The restroom was tiny and was not for changing clothing.
The place was mirrored all the way around but the way the machines were situated, we couldn't really see ourselves in any of them. The idea behind the Curves workout is that each hydraulic machine works a specific body part and you do as many reps as you can for 30 seconds. You then step away from the machine and walk or jog in place for 30 seconds before moving to the next machine. This way, you get both strength and cardio at 30 second intervals. You will go around the circuit twice and then cool down on your own. It's a very fast workout!
Many people have reported that Christian music blares as they workout at their local Curves. At ours, there was corny oldies music coming from a boom box on the floor. It was sufficient since most people seemed to go more to socialize more than to listen to the music. The machines were fairly simple to use and all were in working order. They presented a challenge but, by the time I got into using a machine, it was time to move on to the recovery station. The first few times my sister and I did the workout, we were admonished for doing certain moves wrong or, if the owner was in a good mood, were shown the right way to use the machines to avoid injury and maximize the short time we had on them.
As far as motivation, they do weigh and measure you and they do put up signs congratulating people who have lost weight or inches around the place. They didn't get into nutritional counseling but they did have some brochures and books that did. When we were members, we would go, do the workout, and be home within 45 minutes. That was great but, after the first few workouts, we no longer felt it. No soreness, no just worked out feeling. It was as if we outgrew the circuit, but so soon?
Who is Curves Good For?
At the time we were going to Curves, most of the members were older, quite overweight ladies. That is not to say that younger, less overweight women can't get a workout from the circuit but I do believe that the level of working out is low and more appropriate for people who are just starting out or very sedate. Frankly, my sister and I used the half hour to catch up and chitchat, much like most of the other ladies at the gym. It is very social and I think that draws people back. But is the workout effective? It's better than no workout and I think those who need to start very slow and have a lot to lose or who have been very sedate for a long while can benefit. I don't think more active people or those who are used to working out will find this type of exercise stimulating or challenging enough for them. The only way you can know is to go to a local Curves and try it. We were able to sample the circuit before we joined and guest passes were available.
But the price which I believe was around $50.00 down and $30.00 per month just didn't make me feel like I was getting my money's worth. They ask you to go to the gym three times a week and no more. I would have gone five times a week since I didn't really get sore and it only took a half an hour but they didn't want that. With just the circuit to do and no ability to workout harder as you get stronger, I think this is a good first step toward fitness for women who don't want to join a co-ed gym or who don't want to spend a lot of time working out. You get what you put into it. If you go three times a week and work as hard as you can for those 30 seconds on the machines and move fast while on the recovery stations, you will begin to get fit. How can you not? It's better than sitting on the couch watching TV. But if you have been working out for a while or get bored easily (Hello!), Curves could bore you to tears. It's one of those things that works for some and completely bores others.
Why I Stopped Going
My sister and I stopped going after a couple of months and never returned. We were charged monthly nonetheless and that was our fault for signing a contract then quitting. But we just didn't FEEL it and we didn't see any changes that gave us any indication that the workouts were doing anything. After all, their own literature says you can burn between 164 and 238 calories per workout. I would rather skip a half of a bagel or substitute a salad with fat free dressing for a potato than spend 30 minutes working out only to lose a couple of hundred calories. I wouldn't mind if I wasn't paying a premium price for the privilege but, when I pay a good amount to join a gym, I want more than just to burn a couple hundred calories a visit. I easily do that at home working out to my own DVDs.
Curves is a social gym for women that has its benefits. For one, you don't have to worry about men leering at you when you just want to throw on some sweats and workout. For another, the workouts are fast and you can easily schedule them even on busy days. If you have not exercised in a long time or are very overweight, this system could get you going and help you to lose weight and gain confidence. Maybe fitter people can also benefit from the workout but I am no athlete and I just didn't feel it as I do when I workout at home or at real gyms. My best advice to you is to go visit a Curves near you. Listen to the music (Many have Christian only music and you may not enjoy that.), check out the members, talk to the employees. Get a feel for the workout. Try to do one circuit to see what you will be doing if you join. If it seems like something that will challenge you and that you will benefit from, join! But be sure you have three days a week to do it otherwise you truly won't get much benefit no matter what shape you are in.
For me, this was a 3 star gym. I had no issues with the gym itself other than the open lockers where my purse would sit for anyone to snatch. I left my purse in the car eventually and just brought in a water bottle and my ID card. The place was clean and usually not too crowded. If I were to join a Curves gym again, I would do so at the Cicero, NY location. But I doubt I will ever join again. I need much more variety and stimulation than Curves can give me.
6255 St. Rt. 31
Cicero, NY 13039