By Dorothy Segovia

Curves is the hottest women-only gym “stepping” across the United States. Founded in 1992 by husband and wife Gary and Diane Heavin, Curves now has over 8,000 franchises in eight countries. Curves ‘30-minute fitness and weight loss centers’ provide fitness and weight loss in a fun, fast and safe environment.

The Santa Maria, California Curves that I visited was peppered with positive slogans and a bevy of pink post-it-notes celebrating the “biggest losers.” Barbara Huff, co-owner of the franchise with her husband Joe, researched other gym franchises, but it was the phylosphy and service focus of Curves that got her attention.

Smiling, Barbara gives a tour of the gym and shows me how to take my pulse. My target heart rate is supposed to stay between 22 and 26 beats in a 10 second count. Barbara shows me the platform where I begin warming up. Meanwhile, she gets on the machine in front of me. Her instructions are precise. Somehow she manages to give me complete attention while scanning the circle of women like a hostess at a party.

        Curves is the Amway of the exercise world. Curves slogan “Why just join a club when you can join a movement?” is the war cry from over 3 million members. This 30-minute combo program of diet and exercise buoyed by community is the foundation of their success.

        “Coming to this program gave me an incentive,” declares Ida, a California Curves member who lost over 100 pounds in 2 and ½ years. “Now I help other women. We are like family. We are a support group for one another.”

        The Curves International, Inc. corporate mission statement is “We commit our methods, systems and motivation to helping people, whether a Curves member or franchise owner, to help themselves in their quest to attain a better quality of life.” The Curves member guide written by founder Gary Heavin, is packed with inspirational quotes, a detailed plan for the weight-loss program and The Curves Story.

        Twenty-eight years ago Gary took over a fitness facility. He was studying physiology and became interested in learning how the body works. Gary wanted to go to medical school but realized he was unable to afford it. Because he was not exposed to traditional methods of fitness and weight loss, Gary was free to create his own fitness program. By the time he was thirty, he owned fourteen centers and had written The Sweet Joy of Sugar Free Living, which outlined his formula for metabolic change. Gary suffered financial losses in his early 30’s, but always retained his desire to create the most effective health and weight-loss program for women.

        In 1992 he and his wife Diane, an experienced advertising executive, opened the first Curves in Harlingen, Texas. In 1995 the couple began their franchise operation. Although Gary is the CEO, the power of his wife’s advertising savvy gave Curves its image and a 2004 Effie® award for effectiveness in advertising with their “Power To Amaze” campaign.

        The Curves plan includes a 30-minute workout on a series of hydraulic resistance machines that make it possible to combine strength and cardio training in the same workout. It is the equivalent of a 90-minute workout in just 30 minutes. The recovery stations or platforms in between each machine (which are placed in a circle with participants facing in) give members a chance to keep their heart rate up before switching to a new machine. Each 30 minutes is guided by the Curves CD, which is music, with audio instruction that tells you when to change machines and check your heart rate.

        Curves has on-site weight loss classes and members weigh and measure themselves monthly. Ida, the California Curves diet instructor who we met earlier, began as a member.
“My family had a history of obesity and my doctor told me straight that if I didn’t lose weight, then I was headed for diabetes, and other problems.” Ida explains. “The individual attention here at Curves is the difference that made me successful.”

        Curves is a terrific place to move from couch potato to gym rat. This women only gym keeps ‘mirror pressure’ to a minimum and the community atmosphere of the clubs helps boost the motivation level. In addition, Curves members can use other Curves gyms when they are traveling to other states. Or countries. Plus, each member receives the exclusive Curves magazine entitled Diane, which is filled with stories, health news and fun facts about fitness.

To find a Curves facility near you, or to learn more about the Curves weight-loss plan, visit the Curves website at


  Melanie Tooker

© Melt Magazine 2005