Curves, the self-proclaimed “largest fitness franchise in the world,” started in 1992 with a single center in Harlingen, Texas. Today, founders, husband and wife Gary and Diane Heavin, oversee a franchise that boasts nearly 10,000 centers in more than 70 countries, according to Curves.com. While Curves’ unofficial motto has been “no makeup, no men and no mirrors,” some centers reportedly do allow men to join.
The program’s concept is simple: a half-hour workout that combines stretches with strength and cardio training, burning up to 500 calories. Supervised by a coach, members work their way through a circuit of resistance machines, which “work every major muscle group, two muscles at a time,” Curves says. The goal is “sustained cardio activity,” keeping your heart rate up for 30 minutes to burn calories and boost your lung capacity and physical fitness.
30-Day Diet Plan
The Curves Weight Management Plan, also promoted as the 30-Day Diet Plan, is a free program that provides monthly classes on healthy eating strategies for members. The plan, according to Curves.com, offers two diet paths, with different amounts of protein and carbohydrates. Dieters choose two snacks and three meals “from the recommended list,” which varies according to their plan type. Both plans start with a one-week “low-calorie phase,” but no foods are forbidden. After a month’s time, dieters take a brief respite from the plan for weight maintenance and to “boost [their] metabolism,” before resuming the plan.
In 2002, Baylor University launched the Exercise & Sport Nutrition Laboratory (ESNL). Its goal was to research “the safety and efficacy” of Curves, through more than a dozen studies. In 2005, ESNL director Dr. Richard B. Kreider reported, “following the Curves exercise program and only dieting intermittently seems to be very effective to maintaining long-term weight loss.” The lab moved to Texas A&M University in 2008, with Kreider remaining at the helm.
The Curves website doesn’t list its fees or membership specifics online but periodically offers new member discounts and promotions. Members have access to a “Curves Fitness & Weight Management Plan” book and two websites featuring nutrition planning, tips and a supportive community. Some Curves centers sell “diane” magazine, as well as the company’s line of nutritional and retail products, including athletic wear.
In 2004, just after the company’s first nationwide ad campaign launched, emails began circulating that pointed to Gary Heavin’s Christian beliefs and support for groups against abortion. According to an investigation by Snopes.com, an urban legend clearinghouse, several newspapers claimed Heavin donated “10 percent of Curves’ profits” in 2003 to anti-abortion groups. The original report in “Today’s Christian,” however, stated that he gave away an amount equal to 10 percent of the 2003 profits to “charities,” which were not specifically identified. He has not shied away from his anti-abortion stance in interviews, however.
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