September 23, 2004

Curves, the Visit

I visited Curves on Dorsett in Maryland Heights, MO today. I didn't know what to expect, really - had heard that my friend Sheryl enjoyed the program, and I've certainly noticed that Curves is the new Walgreen's...quite suddenly ubiquitous.

Curves is the women's full-body circuit. There are resistance-powered machines, and in between each machine is a small jogging pad. The idea is to keep your heart rate fairly steady from machine to jogging pad, etc. You stop three or four times (I believe three) to take your pulse for 10 seconds.

You hit the circut twice. For legs, there's a machine that does a resistance squat, another that hits abductors/adductors, a gluteal machine , two that target abs, two for chest, one for shoulders directly, one for traps, and a bicep/tricep contraption. I'm probably missing a couple, but this is a full-body workout, and it's quite quick.

The faster you push the machines, the more resistance they offer. I had trouble striking balance between getting in good effort and not clanging the machine parts. With a weight stack, this is less challenging because you have a visual cue. And with free weights, well, you control everything. After the two circuits, I completed a series of 12 stretches, most of which I'd done before, but a couple of new ones I'll want to throw in with my mix.

The workout passed the sweat test. My pulse during this was around 26 for 10 seconds, about 156 - not really working all that hard for what I'm used to. This is where Curves wants you working, though - it's comfortable, but yet you have to exert yourself. I'm 32. If you go with the max heart rate formula of 220 - age, that puts my max at 188. That put my workload at roughly 83% of max for nearly 30 minutes. Not quite the MS 150, but it passed the sweat test, which, for the uninitiated, is measured by the saturation of the sports bra upon its removal. Very objective, but probably more than you wanted to know.

So, Curves. Do I recommend for women who are going to start an exercise program? Absolutely. Resistance training can be intimidating for women. I looked around Curves - hey, where're the mirrors? Don't need 'em. No free weights - no Stairmasters, no need for mirrors. I know I saw one because I looked funny bouncing on the little jogging pad, but I don't remember seeing more than one. Curves has a social feel to it; the atmosphere is very friendly. Beverly, the manager, took time out of her day to show me around and then answer my question list. She mentioned that there are more than 8000 Curves locations worldwide, about 7600 of which are in the United States.

Curves recommends that you hit the circuit three times a week. Patrons who do are offered a chance to enter a drawing for t-shirts and other prizes. They can also track their progress via the computer, be measured (with a machine less intimidating than those dreaded fat calipers), weighed, and then congratulated for fat and/or poundage loss. Beverly mentioned a 70 year-old member who's lost only a pound in weight but about half of her body fat. As you can imagine, this lady's likely quite a bit more spry.

As with any exercise program that gets your heart rate going for a good period of time, you can expect some endorphins. I left the facility feeling like I'd exercised. Granted, it's no friend Susan (see picture of cycling buddy in this post) workout (the likes of which will leave one understanding the full use of each exercised muscle for at least two days to come), but it's one great start.

Hours for the local Curves were split - 7ish until 1 and then 3:00 until 7:30, I believe. Beverly mentioned that hours are variable by location. Price is also, with the midwest tending to be cheaper per month than the coasts. Still, price is reasonable. If discomfort with body image is an issue, this facility should remove that tension.

So kudos to the Curves people. If you haven't tried it and are not actively exercising, this is not a time, energy, or money drain. I recommend.

(Thanks again, Beverly).


Posted by hln at September 23, 2004 09:55 PM | Fitness | TrackBack

is measured by the saturation of the sports bra upon its removal. Very objective, but probably more than you wanted to know.

I'm surprised Harvey isn't here demanding photographic proof.

Posted by: Victor at September 24, 2004 10:06 AM

Please, Heather, no spry 70 year olds in bathing suits.

We take your word for it.

Posted by: Brian J. at September 27, 2004 06:24 AM