Curves is a chain of fitness center franchises providing 30-minute workouts exclusively for women in a supportive environment. The Curves exercise circuit consists of hydraulic resistance machines, and women move from one to the next with aerobic exercise in between, such as jogging in place or using a mini trampoline. The Curves program provides the opportunity for exercise beginners and for women with tight schedules to get a workout. The program also has some disadvantages.
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The Curves workout program combines weight training and a cardio workout to achieve maximum exercise efficiency in a short time frame. The combination, however, may compromise the effects a person can achieve by doing these exercises independently, as explained by bodybuilder and personal trainer Tom Venuto. Performing supersets--a combination of two exercises--is more effective than attempting to do so many different ones in 30 minutes, according to Venuto.
No Eccentric Resistance
Hydraulic machines provide resistance when pushing against or raising the weight (concentric resistance), but no resistance involving pulling the weight back or lowering it (eccentric resistance). This makes hydraulic machines inferior to full-range strength training, as explained by Venuto. Eccentric exercise may improve strength and muscle gain even more than concentric resistance. Full-range resistance exercise is better once the individual becomes more fit.
The Curves program also does not offer any progressive exercise options once the woman reaches a plateau stage. A workout loses effectiveness once the body adapts to a certain level of exercise, according to Venuto. A better workout routine would involve a wide variety of free weights, weight stack machines and other equipment.
Repetitive Exercise Problems
Another problem with Curves workouts involves the potential for overuse injuries, according to certified strength and conditioning specialist Kyle Battis. Using the same equipment over and over in the same routine with little variation can lead to bursitis and tendinitis.
No Individualized Plans
Curves does not provide an individualized exercise routine, and all 30-minute circuits are the same. No instructors are available to provide a comprehensive fitness evaluation for new members or instruction on achieving further results, as noted by Battis. Additionally, Curves centers do not have an exercise specialist supervising the activity.
Lack of Amenities
Curves centers do not provide amenities other than changing rooms and bathrooms. They do not have showers, as noted by Women's Fitness Secrets. Some centers have very restricted hours, such as only being open in the morning and evening. The centers also do not provide child care services, unlike larger fitness centers.