Curves is a chain of fitness centers designed especially and exclusively for women. When you walk into a Curves, it won't look like a typical gym. First, you won't see any sweaty burly men. And instead of a cavernous locker room, you'll find a line of demure, no-frills changing rooms. The set-up is also much simpler than at your typical health club. Instead of rows and rows of stairmasters and weight machines that look like medieval torture devices, Curves offers a simple set of eight machines that operate using hydraulic resistance rather than weight stacks. These hydraulic machines are easier on the joints and safer for women with osteoporosis.
You don't make up your own exercise program at Curves. Curves has your workout planned down to the second. The workout involves making your way around the circuit of eight machines three times. You spend thirty seconds on each machine, no more and no less, before moving on. In between machines, you stop on a cardio station, which is essentially a square platform, and send thirty seconds engaging in an aerobic activity of your choice, such as walking, stretching, marching, or jogging in place. You'll be told when to move on to the next machine or station by a pre-recorded female voice that plays on a constant loop along with the dance music typically played in Curves franchises (Curves has its own line of CDs featuring disco-ish remixes of everything from contemporary pop hits to golden oldies and Christian rock). The pre-recorded voice will also instruct you to take your pulse every thirty seconds to make sure that your heart rate is in the target zone for your age range. At this point, Curves employees are required to ask you if you're "OK, " which can be reassuring or infantilizing, depending on your point of view.
It takes twenty-four minutes to complete three rotations on the circuit, including the machines and the cardio stations. Then it's time to stretch. Curves has a six minute stretch routine planned for you. There are no mirrors in Curves, so you can't watch yourself to make sure that you are using the proper form when working the machines or doing your stretches. However, rest assured that a Curves employee will let you know if your not pushing, pulling, or stretching properly.
In addition to the exercise routine, Curves offers a diet plan and various supplements designed to help you lose weight. But the best thing about Curves, from a woman's point of view, is that the women who come to exercise feel at ease with one another, away from the burly men and the mirrors, and this breeds a great deal of camaraderie. Curves franchises often become like mini-community centers for the neighborhoods they serve.
As for the workout-- if your're a veteran exerciser used to free weights and high-impact physcial axctivity, Curves isn't going to be enough for you. But if you just want to make sure that you get your thirty minutes of daily exercise in, Curves will do the trick admirably. Most important, if you're someone who is afraid of gyms or simply unacquainted with them, Curves is a fun, non-intimidating way of breaking the ice. Further, Curves is ideal for obese women, the elderly, or women whose mobility or energy is impaired by a health condition. Obese women in particular seem to respond very well, and quickly, to the Curves regimen.