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Curves® is a fitness center, a workout idea and a franchise of small health clubs mainly geared toward women that was founded by Diane and Gary Heavin in 1992. Franchising the company, so people could buy their own Curves® location, began in 1995. The first Curves® gym opened in Harlingen, Texas, in 1992 and offered a unique fitness program for women, although in a few states, men can join the program too.
Essentially, the fitness program is accessible to people of all fitness levels, though people with any injuries or problems with recurring pains in joints or the back should consult a doctor first. People work at their own level, and private training is given to all who join. Moreover, as people work out, a staff member keeps an eye on them, making sure that they maintain proper poses and positions while using specially designed exercise machines.
The basic workout is the same for most people. Exercise machines are placed in a circular format. Most machines have a recovery board in between, where the person can do any type of aerobic step or simply rest between machines. Music in the background also includes direction to switch machines after a minute has passed. The workout goes through the circle or circuit twice, providing a 30-minute exercise program.
The machines designed for Curves® use hydraulic resistance, so there is no need to change weights. This means if a person is using the recovery boards to do any type of aerobic step in between machines, she can keep her heart rate at higher "aerobic" level, which is maintained throughout the workout since there is little downtime. Workouts can be intensified by doing a higher amount of repetitions on each machine, and by the intensity of the aerobic steps on the recovery boards. The workout also covers virtually every major muscle group as the person works the circuit.
One of the best selling points of the Curves® program is the short time it takes to complete a workout. The company recommends people work out three times a week, and studies on the workout do show it helps to accelerate metabolism, burn fat, and also promotes building lean muscle mass. People seeking to lose weight more quickly can do so by adding additional workouts, though for people who are just getting started, three times a week may feel like just enough.
Curves® is not a standard health club. Few facilities have showers, and most don't offer any other type of classes or alternatives to their workout system. The goal is to get in and get out in the thirty minutes, with about five minutes of stretching afterward, instead of spending hours in a gym, confused by many alternative programs.
Most women find they can commit to brief appearances at a gym three times a week, especially in a comfortable, congenial environment, where the program is easily understood. Membership costs may be higher than the average gym club membership, but special deals are sometimes available.
One significant publicity blow to Curves® was a report in 2004 that charitable donations made by the founders of the company were funding the more aggressive organizations of the pro-life movement. This is not the case, though the company does make some donations to centers that support women with financial help, and donated baby clothes and accessories, when they have already chosen not to have an abortion. Though this information was corrected, accounts still circulate that Curves® is secretly working against a woman's right to choose. More accurately, they support pro-life-oriented centers that help women who have chosen not to have an abortion and need emotional and financial help.