About Curves (the Women’s gym)

Marilyn had them.  Hell, so did Mae, Crawford, and dozens others, including young Judy who, during the filming of  The Wizard of Oz, had to wear a special apparatus which curbed her, um, curves.  (They really wanted Shirley Temple for the movie, but couldn’t get her so decided to cast Judy Garland instead…and she had hit puberty a few years before.  Thus is film history made.)  But, as a woman who has had overly ample curves all her life, this isn’t what I’m referring to:  I am referring to Curves, the women’s workout and community place/space.  There are over 9,000 Curves (Women’s gyms) all over the world, and this is why I love Curves and am so grateful to them.  Diane and Gary Heavin (both credentialled and skilled women’s health gurus) began Curves several years ago.  The gist was to get women working out in safe, swift, man-free gyms.  Safe means: having a trainer on-site, always, at all times to ensure you are using the machines safely; checking your pulse rate regularly to that same end; cleaning the machines so that germs don’t get passed on.  Swift means thirty minutes (yes, 30) on fourteen machines followed by a seven to ten-minute flexibility routine (what in dance is called a “cool-down”).  Man-free…well, you get that:  women only, so it’s not a pick-up place nor competitive–at all.  The machines are set up in a circle so that you alternate “upper-body” work with “lower-body”; you’re on each for 30 seconds, and in between each machine is a wooden square, about 3X3 on which you continue moving, dancing, squirming, exercising, so that you always maintain your cardio-vascular level.   Here’s the kicker:  if you’d told me ten years ago that I’d be working out at a gym three to six times a week, I’d have laughed in your face.  But…and it’s a big “but”, Curves has done more for me that Celebrex and all the other pills I have taken and continue to take periodically for my osteo-arthritis.  It’s a bit like “Ripley’s Believe it or not”, I know, but you need to open your mind  (like my cousin recently did), and realize that pills are not the solution, at least not always.  I know…I can hear you saying, “oh sure…you’ve been a dancer all your life, ridden horses–you’re basically a monkey with fur-free feet!”  Uh uh…listen up, all you “completely wrong” people out there.  If you don’t exercise–in some way–you are dead meat.  I had a reason to exercise, well, two reasons actually:  as a victim (I hate that word) of polio, I know what it’s like to have no feeling beyond my hips, and as a child born of a mother who could out-dance Ann Miller (look her up) and Ginger Rogers, I loved dancing (and horseback riding) before I could talk, so….  So I became a student of jazz ballet around the age of 21 or so and didn’t stop until I was about the age of 39.  Around then, my life was so physically active (swimming and walking my huge boy, Fred were daily activities) that I thought, hell, I get more exercise than the usual sloth; why worry?  Maybe that was true at the time, but at the time, I hadn’t begun peri-menopause.  Anyway…after a near-fatal car accident in December 1990, I began to develop back problems, joint problems, IBS and a random assortment of pain-filled, chronic THINGS…things, I called them.  This hurt, that hurt…don’t know where that came from; I was fine yesterday.  Where’s the closest women’s restroom in this building?   I started looking at canes as if I needed a third leg, and how much do they cost, and how do you walk with one of those things anyway?  Compared to people with cystic fibrosis/MS/Gehrig’s Disease, I was fine, doing okay…but then peri-menopause hit.  Gotta go now…the memories of  that period of my life, and the weight that I gained in under ten months have got me all teary-eyed.  Visiting Australia, a life-long dream, saved me, I think.  A woman friend, some years older than me, told me “if you get through peri, you’ll be laughing through menopause itself… PRE-menopause is the real bitch.”  Boy, was she right!  And, as amazing as Australia was, it has been my Curves that has helped me maintain as good an overall state of health as my puny little body can manage.  While you’re here, go visit the pix of my Curves Book Signing.  Click on Photos in the left-hand menu.  The owner, Shanta Kalli, was good enough to run the Signing for a full week so that all Curves members could have a look at Ground Manners.  You can’t buy generosity of spirit like that.  Thanks, Shanta…thanks, Curves.

11 Comments

  1. Fit Dude
    May 9, 2011

    There are far, far fewer than 9000 Curves clubs open for business- thousands of clubs have closed in the last few years due to several factors. Many former club owners blame the corporate office for over-saturation of territories, lack of support, business-killing restrictions and inferior equipment (see http://www.unhappyfranchisee.com/curves-robert-lays-story/). In fact, the Wall Street Journal ran an article on the thousands of Curves clubs that have closed; the Curves President called it “pruning” of unproductive franchises (caused by the corporate office); see: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704862404575351293938715632.html

    • Cynthia
      May 9, 2011

      I cannot thank you enough for this, fitdude! As a devoted Curves member of six years, I was alarmed to read the links you provided. I will be passing those on to my Curves owner and others in different provinces. My Curves, I must tell you, is open all week, including Saturdays and Sundays, provides Zumba, and has excellent, attentive trainers. Maybe it’s different in Canada than in the US, but even so, I will be informing everyone I know.

  2. Amanda
    May 9, 2011

    Cynthia, you are truly an outstanding person. You have accomplished so much and I am so glad to have crossed paths with someone who has such a kind heart. You are such an inspiration. Congratulations on everything that you have done thus far and all that you continue to do.

    Amanda (from Curves)

    • Cynthia
      May 9, 2011

      Amanda, you sweetie-pie…I thank you from the bottom of my heart! The goodness that emanates from you–in all the work you do as you go through school–especially the work you do for elders is an inspiration to me…to me, my dear…and God knows, there isn’t much these days that I find inspiring! Thank you, Amanda, You’ve made me cry, as I think about all the moral support you and Lindsay gave me while my mind was working out “how to be with the horses“…how to write my very first novel. You were there with me, all along, encouraging and supporting me. I have no words…but I’m thankful that I’ll see you soon (at Curves)! xxx

  3. Fit Dude
    Aug 30, 2011

    As a follow up to my previous comment, the Curves franchise is doing so poorly that the Wall Street Journal Online ran another article on this topic last week. Do a Google search for “Why is the Curves franchise in such bad shape” to view.

    • Cynthia
      Aug 30, 2011

      Again, I appreciate your keeping us up-to-date, Fit Dude. I did alert my Curves owner and members in other municipalities to alert their owners after reading your first comment. Thus far, I have neither seen nor heard anything remotely close to what you describe. But then, maybe I’d have to be in the Curves corporate loop to know more. As far as my own Curves goes, I’ll continue to support it just as I always have. If anything changes, I’ll blog about it, and I hope, as you know more, you’ll continue to comment.

      • Cynthia
        Aug 30, 2011

        Me again, Fit Dude. I read the article (and comments) on the Wall Street Journal site. You’re right: it all sounds too awful. I hope none of this megalomania on the part of the corporate owners in Waco affects the many good clubs we have here in Montreal. One of the criticisms was that new owners pay no attention to their members, and stick unhappy, unrewarded, untrained trainers into place, just to say someone’s there. I can’t say that’s the case at my Curves, nor at my previous Curves in Pointe-Claire. Our owner, Shanta Kalli, is there everyday, works her shift and more, and has more energy than Tigger! Lindsay, Amanda and now Natacha, a new trainer, are attentive, pleasant, and by gum, if they’re unhappy, then I’m a manic-depressive. All that to say, Fit Dude, that, as shocked as I am at the state of the Curves franchise–a concept that had nowhere to go but up–only by taking the pulse of the membership at each Club can an across-the-board critique be formed.

        • AZFUNNYGRL
          Aug 31, 2011

          I love my Curves in AZ . I have been going over a yr now and I am a size 4 and very happy with the results I have gotten. I am actually thinking of buying a CURVES Franchise, now that so many have closed. I bought real estate yrs ago when everyone else was selling it too and interest rates were 10 %. I guess I buy when others are selling. I feel if any Curves has made it through the horrible housing bust 5 yrs ago they should do well now. Many owners refinanced their over priced homes to buy over priced Curves during that period and the fall out is that many are selling or walked away now. Cant blame Curves for poor judgement. yes they over saturated the market…but now those clubs are closing !! I see that as TIME to BUY Ladies ! I love the concept, it works and I am passionate about it ! Good luck to all !!

          • Cynthia
            Aug 31, 2011

            Thanks for posting, AZFunnyGirl…I love hearing different points-of-view!

          • AZFUNNYGRL
            Aug 31, 2011

            I love yuor attitude and your soul Cynthia….and I love your blog. I stumbled upon it today and it brightened my soul. I see you are close with your MUM..I moved my Mother out here to AZ from CT and she lives with us now. She is 84. I think AZ has been good for her.
            I have a grown son who lives near Toronto and was born in Canada. We love visiting there each summer. Keep well and keep positive !

          • Cynthia
            Sep 5, 2011

            Oh AZFunnyGirl…it’s people like you who make the world a better place. My hubby keeps telling me that we’ll be retiring to Phoenix; he says the air in AZ will be good for my arthritis. I have lots of relatives throughout the US, and my Mom’s family is from Ohio…and your son lives near TO–six degrees of separation, eh? LOL! The world is as small as all the friendly thoughts we share with one another, isn’t it? Thanks, FunnyGirl…please keep reading and commenting.

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