Monday, March 12, 2012

My Curves Experience

 Curves & Elvis
Photo credit: orngejuglr 
This is not my Curves, but I thought it was cute! 

Back in December, a friend asked me to take advantage of a free month of Curves where she is a member. I really didn't want to, because I'd been a member of a gym in North Vancouver and had ended up hating it. Wes wanted me to try it, though, so I went for the one-month trial.

I loved it!

I joined in January and, for the most part, have been going three days a week for the past three months. There's a monthly fee, but I was allowed to waive the one-time membership fee because I had taken advantage of the one-month free offer. That was totally up to the owner of my Curves, and she graciously waived that for me. Their one-time registration is good for life, so if you quit going for some reason, you can start your membership back again without having to re-pay the membership fee. I like that a lot. You can also move your membership at no extra cost if you move to a different city, and you can get a guest pass when you go on vacation to visit other Curves.

The basic idea of Curves is a 30-minute workout, done on 12-13 exercise machines which work different muscle groups as you move around a circuit. Between each machine is a rest "station," a small springboard on which you can jog in place or whatever you choose to keep your heart rate up or to rest a bit while you keep moving. I usually try to keep moving hard enough to keep my heart rate up. You complete the circuit of machines twice, then you do some stretching exercises to complete your workout.

Here are the things I love about going to Curves:
  • Social interaction. One of the first things I loved about going to Curves was the feeling of community. I get the sense that we're all in this together, something that was missing at the all-ladies gym in North Vancouver. I'm greeted by name when I come in the door, I engage in conversation with whoever is exercising when I'm there - it's usually the same ladies - and we enjoy encouraging each other. We have fun, and it makes me feel like I'm a part of the group, rather than a nameless face who comes in to exercise a few times a week.
  • Only women! Need I say more? And at my Curves, there are so many different ages of women - a lot of them are older than me - and so many levels of fitness. I never feel like I'm the oldest there or the only one who really needs to be there. At the gym, I was usually surrounded by slim, athletic 20-somethings who were jogging for an hour and followed that with a full workout on the weight machines. I felt like the dumpy middle-aged woman who could barely walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes
  • Curves Smart. This is a computerized personal coaching system. When you join, you have the free option of using a Curves Smart card, which is programmed with your personal information. Each machine is programmed to give you instant feedback on your performance, and automatically adjusts your endurance level so that you are challenged to work at your maximum level during each workout. This is what keeps me from getting bored with the workouts! I look forward to seeing if I've progressed on each machine and how many calories I've burned. If I miss a day, my performance goals are lowered just a bit to help me ease back into the routine. If I meet my performance goals for the day, the goal is slightly increased for my next workout. The only downside to this system is that, when there is a problem with a machine, my workout results are not accurate. That's only happened once, so it's not a huge deal.
 
  • Workouts suited to me. This is similar to the Curves Smart benefit. The resistance of the machines is controlled by hydraulics, so the harder and faster you work, the more resistance you feel - and the more it works your muscles. I like this for two reasons: I can work hard and challenge myself, or I can work a little easier if I'm tired or have an injury or weakness, such as the tendinitis in my shoulder.
  • Monthly weigh-in and measurements. Every month, the computer will remind you it's time for your measurements. I have a love/hate relationship with this aspect of Curves! I have lost no weight yet. In my case, the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, also makes weight loss difficult. Having said that, though, I have lost inches! I've lost a total of three inches, mostly in my abdomen. I'm seeing changes all over my body even though I haven't lost weight. My clothes are fitting better and people are beginning to notice that I'm looking trimmer (even if not skinnier!). Knowing that weigh-in is coming helps me behave a little more, especially toward the end of the month! LOL
  • Improved energy and health. I feel so much better! I feel more flexible and have more endurance. My blood sugar levels are more manageable. I'm not having as many problems with mid-life issues such as hot flashes. The best thing of all, though, is that my quarterly blood tests to help control diabetes are showing the result of regular exercise. My last blood work before joining Curves was in November. I just had another round of tests on March 1st. My A1c, which was 7.8% in November, has decreased to 6.4%, well under the 7% guideline. My blood pressure dropped from 127 (systolic, or top number, which has the most importance for diabetics) to 110. I can't wait till June when I will get my yearly cholesterol tests done too, to see how much better those readings are!
I will mention that the one thing I don't necessarily enjoy at my Curves is the music, although it's not the worst I've ever heard. They play rock music, of course, which I don't care for, but they at least keep it at a level that's not too hard on the ears. If an exceptionally hard-rock song comes on, they change it, and if a song is too loud, they will turn it down. Most of the time they're older songs, which tend to be less offensive than newer, more hardcore rock songs, with a few real oldies mixed in, like The Twist. Have you ever tried to not move when The Twist is playing?! LOL When all is said and done, I can take my own music and use ear buds. Not a huge deal, and we have to live with these kind of things everywhere we go. It's not a deal-breaker for me.

I am so thankful for Curves at this point in my life, and I'm thankful that my friend asked me to go with her. She actually had to bug me a bit, but I'm glad she did! ;) If you have the money to join and make the monthly payments, I'd recommend looking into it and trying it out for a week or more.

Disclaimer: These are my personal opinions. I am not being paid or compensated in any way by Curves. Other than where I work out, they don't even know who I am!

11 comments:

  1. Thanks for the details! I get e-mails from SparkPeople.com, where I tracked my diet and exercises for a while, and every now and then they send out some kind of offer for Curves. I took advantage of a free month offer for a gym with a friend some years ago and found the same thing you did -- it was mostly much younger, very fit women already. Plus at that one there wasn't really any direction. We took an aeribics class, but otherwise we just meandered among the machines on our own.

    I actually prefer to exercise alone and not have to venture from home, but I've wondered if some of the machines and different things you talked about might be beneficial. When I was exercising at home, I lost about 11 lbs. and then was stuck for weeks even though I upped the length of the workouts and added days. I wondered if I was doing something wrong and if going some place like that would help. Of course, that was all without really adjusting my diet, which I need to do, too, but still. But I did feel more energetic and all even if I wasn't losing as much weight as I'd thought I would. I dropped out after a back injury and really need to get back to it.

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    1. Barbara, I think you can get at least a free week at Curves, if not a month. It might be worth it to try it out and see if it's something that might work for you. I resisted going there for a long time because I thought it wouldn't work; I didn't see how working for 30 minutes and hopping around to different machines would work, but somehow it does. And with the variety of ages and fitness levels, it's no uncomfortable at all. Most of the ladies here are quite a bit older than I am, and they inspire me so much! The workers are trained to help you on the machines, and they also have some training in nutrition. It's smaller than a gym too, much more personal atmosphere. I hope you can try it out. Let me know if you do!

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  2. That sounds wonderful Susan! I'm proud of you for sticking with it. I've wondered about Curves before. I would like the fact that there are only women there.

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    1. That's one of the strong point for it! I've never felt comfortable exercising around men. Thanks for your encouragement! :)

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  3. Hi Susan ~ Glad you're liking it all and that it's working! I would definitely like the all-women aspect...but probably the music wouldn't work for me...along with the fact that I'd feel embarrassed exercising in front of folks. I do need to start back to walking again now that the weather is nicer. Looking forward to hearing about more success for you! :)

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    1. Hi Deb! I know what you mean about exercising in front of others; that's why I like that it's all women, and we're all doing the same exercises. The music - again, the iPod and ear buds are the best solution for that. Wes and I like to take walks together, so we do that sometimes on my "off" days. Enjoy that warmer weather!

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  4. Exercise makes such a huge difference, I've been exercising regularly for a couple of months now and I can tell a big difference.

    Thanks for sharing about your Curves experience, I've always wondered. :o)

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    1. I used to get so frustrated at the doctor when the answer for every ailment was "exercise!" Now I see that it does make a huge difference! :)

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  5. I'm a lurker here and always enjoy my visits. I was praying for a way to meet ladies and practice Japanese and they opened a Curves on the corner of my neighborhood. I joined the first day and have been going for over 5 years now. I love it. When I was on furlough, I went in the states and learned about their weight loss plan. If they have it where you are, I would encourage you to give it a try. I had just about given up hope of ever losing the weight the dr. said I needed to lose. It's a doable plan and it works!

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    1. I'm so glad to "meet" you, Senkyoushi! I don't know if I've mentioned that our older son's girlfriend grew up in Japan. Her parents are veteran missionaries there through BIMI.

      I believe my Curves does carry the weight-loss plan, but I haven't tried it because it costs extra. I've considered trying the one-week trial though. I may have to do that!

      I'm so glad you came out of lurkdom to leave a comment! I'll be by your blog to read more about you, and I hope you'll continue to come back! Thank you for reading!

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  6. I'm glad to know that once you've been a member you don't have to pay the membership cost again. I think I got my membership at half price when I joined, about 5 years ago (or maybe longer? I don't remember). I liked going to Curves but I struggled to fit it in since I was working full time. I've thought of trying it again.

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Thanks for taking a minute to read my ramblings and leave a comment! I appreciate it!

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