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Curves Smart is a personal coach system that ensures members work

to their maximum capacity by setting them targets and tracking results

responsibility to look after her. That’s the passion and the devotion that’s instilled in our staff.”


“I still go to my club three or four times a week and I’ve lost almost eight stone – and kept it off – so I knew as a member that the model was successful. However, given my nursing background, I needed to understand how and why. “Curves has a partnership with Texas

A&M University in the US and our diet and exercise programme is very well researched. Gary [Heavin, co-founder of Curves with his wife Diane] is passionate about keeping it live – about always being able to support, with hard evidence, our claims that the Curves approach works.” So how does it work? “Our resistance- based approach is the key,” says Keene

– the 12-station circuit includes no CV-specifi c stations. “The equipment creates resistance in both directions and you burn up to 500 calories in our 30-minute workout. You’re constantly overloading the muscles, then resting. It’s not dissimilar to interval training and that’s what gives our workout its fat- and calorie-burning properties.” The circuit, a series of hydraulic

resistance machines manufactured in the US specifi cally for Curves, ensures members work out safely and within the limits of their own physical ability. They spend 30 seconds on each machine, with resting stations in between where they


Date established Set up by Gary and Diane Heavin in 1992. Gary’s mother died early of heart disease and, says Keene: “It was a personal mission of his to find a programme of exercise for women that would work.”

Clubs worldwide Around 9,000 Markets covered 70 Members worldwide Four

million women

Date of UK launch 2002

UK clubs 246, with more in the pipeline

Average length of membership

Three years

Average club 93–140sq m (1,000– 1,500sq ft), located in residential areas and local shopping parades for convenience, with 250–300 members. Facilities Typically one circuit, with no added extras – coffee bars or spa areas, for example. As Keene explains: “Although we encourage other exercise outside of our clubs, Curves needs to stick to its simple, half-hour format. If you start building other things into it, your members will stop coming because visits start taking up too much time.”

might do anything from walking on the spot to hip rolls and salsa dancing. There’s also six minutes of stretching at the end. “Although we give our franchisees the

fl exibility to tailor the detail of their clubs around local needs and nuances, the basic model – the circuit itself – must remain intact, because that’s the aspect around which all our research is conducted,” stresses Keene. “The machines must always be used in the correct way and there must be a coach in the centre of the circuit at all times. Members are never left unsupervised which, from a medical perspective, I believe is vital. “Also, although there’s no personal

training, if a member’s struggling or feels they’re not getting the results they want, they can ask for a coach to go round the circuit with them on a one-to-one basis. And all new members have a coach with them on their fi rst visit.” It’s a personalised level of attention that’s particularly refreshing given the monthly

membership fees at Curves clubs which, although they vary by region, are all at the lower end of the scale. Keene continues: “Our members

love feedback so they can see how well they’re working, and we’ve developed a personal coach system called Curves Smart. It’s a little electronic tag that fi ts on the machines and sets you targets for each station, to ensure you work to your maximum capacity. Not only that, but its intelligent technology means it amalgamates your results and progresses you – or makes the workout easier if need be, if you struggled last time. “You can download your results at

the end, including calorie burn, which is very popular because women feel they can have a latte on the way home! Our approach focuses on weight loss, but we’re realistic: we have to fi t into people’s everyday lives. It’s not about yo-yo dieting. “Indeed, our new weight management

programme really isn’t a diet so much as a healthy eating plan. We offer free weight management classes to both members and non-members and our coaches work individually with people as well, looking at their dietary requirements, their eating habits, helping them make behavioural changes, offering suggested meal plans. But we don’t dictate.”

rapid growth

If the Curves model works at the level of member results, its corporate results demonstrate success at a business level too: it’s the world’s largest women-only operation, including around 5,000 clubs in the US, and is the UK’s largest chain full stop. In addition to the long list of countries under the remit of Curves HQ, the company has also signed master franchise agreements for markets – such as China and the UAE – where, for both

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