Analysis of the “Curves” Fitness Program

Analysis of the “Curves” Fitness Program

By Kyle Battis CSCS, L/ATC, NSCA-CPT
Professional Fitness Coaching

Many people have asked me what my thoughts were on the Curves fitness program. After researching the program, interviewing current and past members, and speaking with other fitness professionals around the country I have compiled the following analysis.

Curves is a franchised exercise program designed exclusively for women. The Curves program has spread across the nation like wildfire due to claims such as: “No experience necessary, only 30 minutes for a full-body workout, no class times, no appointments to keep, you can’t be late for your workout because the circuit is always on!” In fact, the Curves franchise is listed by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the top franchises to own. The question is why has it grown so popular?

The answer can be found in the target audience of the Curves program. Curves caters to a very large group of women seeking positive physical change in a supportive environment. Most commercial gyms and fitness centers do not come close to offering a friendly and supportive environment for beginning exercisers be it female or male. You have to give credit where credit is due. The originator of this franchise recognized that there was a huge market for a gym such as Curves and surely has tapped into a goldmine.


Curves is definitely great from a marketing and business perspective but what about the actual exercise program that is followed? One of the Curves members that I interviewed offered the following synopsis:

“They have about 10 different units. Leg extensions/leg curls, squats, leg press, glut press, biceps curls/triceps extensions, lat pull downs/overhead press, chest press/seated row, a dip/shrug machine, and a seated abdominal machine. They repeat some of the machines and you go around the circuit 1 and 1/2 times. In between each machine there is 3’ x 3’ platform that you perform some continuous exercise such as running in place or stationary jumping. The goal is to stay in the fat burning target heart rate zone for 30 minutes.”

Curves is a 30-minute exercise circuit comprised of hydraulic resistance machines and bodyweight exercises. The nature of the hydraulic machines used in the Curves program forces the user to perform concentric (muscle shortening) contractions of the opposing muscle groups. No eccentric (muscle lengthening) muscle action occurs when using these machines so very little muscle soreness is developed. The problem with the lack of the eccentric muscle actions is that it does not put a lot of stress on the muscle and a muscle not stressed is a muscle that will not change.