Weight and Resistance Training - Curves or regular gym?

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06-23-2005, 07:01 PM
Hello Everyone,
I am new to this forum, but I have a question I hope you can help me with. I took curves up on a free week trial, and my week is coming to an end. I have to decide if I want to join. My dilema is... will a curves type workout along with a run/walk 30-45 minutes on alternate days, as well as some hard core BFL type weight training 3x's a week be too ambitious? I am training to lose 50 lbs by the new year, I am looking at joining the army in the new year. I have been half hazardly throwing around getting in shape, but it is crunch time and I want to put in ACTION and not just talk about it anymore. My goals are to gain strength to do full military style pushups and to gain cardio endurance to be able to eventually run a comfortable 5km. Is curves a waste of my time? I allready have access to a full gym at the military base where I live (my husband is in the army). Should I stick to traditional weights and cardio for my goals? Thank you so much for any advice.

06-23-2005, 07:27 PM
You can benefit from any exercise program if done correctly. With Curves, you're going to get out of it what you put into it. Since it works on hydraulics, the faster you operate the equipment, the more resistance you will have, the harder the workout. Too many of the people I see take a lazy type approach to it and don't break into a sweat. I'm usually drenched when I leave.

06-23-2005, 07:42 PM
My two cents - FWIW:

Remember that you need to have at least a day off between weight training sessions (ie not training the same body part two days in a row). With what you're proposing (Curves 3x week + traditional weight training 3x week) you are not allowing your muscles time to recover IMO.

If you enjoy doing Curves and WANT to sign up, I'd suggest going on a 'month by month' contract rather than committing to an entire year - it just seems to me that since you're already doing traditional weight training - or plan to - that you will outgrow Curves (if you haven't already) since the routine never changes...KWIM?

With the very admirable goal of doing military-style pushups and running a 5k, my recommendation would be to stick to the traditional gym - and if you can swing it, try and get a certified personal trainer to assist you with getting a routine going and motivate you into meeting your goals! Good luck :)

PS - I moved this thread down to the Ladies who Lift so our personal trainers (Mel and Meg) can have a look at it and perhaps provide their thoughts...

06-23-2005, 07:43 PM
Chimo, I was one of the people almost heaven saw, not breaking a sweat.(lol)
The approach works but you have to work it. Seem like you have the motivation to succeed. So I am sure either approach will work.

06-23-2005, 08:52 PM
What is it about Curves that you like? The group atmosphere? Does the gym have BodyPump or SuperSculpt classes? They would provide a group setting along with a decent workout. Doing a class like that once a week and a regular weight workout twice a week might be an option.

If you are training for strength and endurance, as MrsJim said, you have either already outgrown Curves or will very soon. Doing more reps faster does not increase the load on your muscles despite Curves' claims. The only way to build strength is to increase the load(resistance) on your muscles. More reps faster will increase muscle endurance, but not the kind of endurance you need to run a 5K.

I agree that if you do Curves' workout plus a traditional gym workout, plus cardio, you will be overtraining. You can keep it up for a few weeks, but eventually your body will just get to the point where you don't recover from workouts, you are constantly exhausted but can't sleep, weightloss stops, and your immune system is compromised. It takes a while to recover from being in an overtrained state...you don't want to go there!

My bias, obviously, is the gym. You can constantly vary your workout, tailor it to meet your specific goals, as increase the challenge and intensity and you gain strength and confidence.

Good luck!


06-23-2005, 09:30 PM
Hi Chimo! Since MrsJ volunteered me ;) , Iím happy to throw in my two cents (along with the excellent advice you got from the other posters).

Iíve never done a Curves workout myself, though Iíve been in Curves and seen the equipment. I work as a trainer at a large, traditional gym and recently got two new clients who had been Curves regulars for 18 months but were frustrated by their lack of progress. So I have a few thoughts to pass along based on what theyíve shared with me about Curves workouts and what I've observed (please note Ė Iím sure that different Curves are managed differently and people have different experiences).

Lack of educated or trained personnel: at least at this particular Curves, there werenít any trainers or anyone teaching or knowledgeable about exercise. My clients werenít shown proper use of the machines, correct exercise techniques, and no one explained anything to them about what they were doing or why. They didnít know anything about the basics of exercise and I was shocked that neither knew where their triceps are -- after 18 months of exercise! :eek:

My clientsí body fat percentages were checked monthly at Curves but no one ever explained to them what the number meant (fat pounds versus lean body mass) or how their body fat percent compared to other women their age or what a healthy body fat percent is. It was only a number to them.

The manager of one of the local Curves recently joined my gym and became a personal training client (not mine) because Ė as she told us Ė she doesnít know anything about exercise and needs a trainer to teach her. She told us that employees at her Curves are hired as salespeople, not as trainers or educators. She's made some fabulous progress in the past two months. :)

Lack of variety: itís the same workout, over and over and over again. As with any workout in any gym, your body adapts and your progress stops. At Curves, there isnít any way to change up or progress the exercises, split up the body parts, alter the tempo or intensity, increase weights, use drop sets or supersets, or do any of the thousands of tricks we do in the gym to progress an exercise program.

Perhaps this could be a reason why my clients saw no improvement despite 18 months of regular Curves attendance (3 Ė 5 times per week)?

Limited equipment: my clients estimated that there were eight machines in a circle, three of which were ab machines. In addition to the ab machines, this Curves had a leg extension machine, inner thighs, biceps, chest press, and shoulder press. Which means that there weren't any machines for back, hamstrings, or triceps (which is probably why my clients didnít know what their triceps were). Not only does this kind of workout neglect critical muscle groups, but itís downright dangerous. Muscles work in pairs Ė an agonist and an antagonist. Hamstrings and quads. Biís and triís. Back and chest. If you strengthen one muscle group and not the other, youíll create muscle imbalances that can lead to joint dysfunction and injury.

Iím not very familiar with hydraulic equipment so canít really speak to its effectiveness. But I was alarmed by the bad form that my clients brought to our equipment (shoulders hunched or elevated, knees buckling in during squats, head and neck forward, pelvic tilt, going at warp speed with no control over the machine etc) and itís taking quite a bit of time to re-teach them the correct ways to exercise.

Lack of cardio: itís not enough or intense enough cardio. Curves cardio, at least at this facility, is 30 seconds of marching in place between machines. Effective cardio raises your heart rate to somewhere between 65% and 90% of its maximum (max heart rate is 220 minus your age) and sustains it there for a period of time. I doubt that you can elevate your heart rate sufficiently with 30 seconds of marching in place. And my opinion is that the minimum amount of cardio needed for fat loss Ė the bare bones minimum Ė is thirty minutes, three times a week. Five times a week would be preferable.

I did a cardiovascular fitness test on my two clients and both scored in the ĎPoorí range for their age groups, despite 18 months of Curves workouts.

However, despite all that I said above, I think that Curves can be a way for a woman to get started in an exercise program, especially one who isnít comfortable in a real gym. Some exercise is always better than none! But, as certified personal trainer, I have some hesitations about the safety and efficacy of Curves workouts.

I want to include a link to a balanced and excellent review (http://www.fitren.com/res3ask.cfm?compid=18&qaid=194) of Curves written by well-known fitness expert Tom Venuto.

Bottom line - Chimo, based on what youíve told us about your aspirations, access to a real gym, and degree of expertise, itís hard to imagine that the Curves program is going to do much to progress you toward your goals. Curves as preparation to join the Army? :dizzy: My advice is to stick with the hard-core BFL training, cardio, and good nutrition Ė very important!! Ė and you shouldnít have any problem reaching your goals. Best of luck to you! :D

06-24-2005, 08:21 AM
about what I knew in my heart to be true! :) I know it takes exactly what you said, meg, to progress and build muscle. The thing about curves that I was being drawn to was the camradrie of the ladies, no one being too perfect, you never feel out of place, and they measure, weigh and keep track of stats on you each month. NOW, my husband just told me last night that HE can do that for me, so there goes that need! NOT worth the $100.00 joining fee and $44.00/ month! As well, I saw a red flag when my girlfriend (who works at curves and is still as overweight as 2 years ago) told me that if I forget to do the stretches at the end of my workout, do not complain to her when I gain weight and begin to BULK up like Arnold Swartznegger!! I KNOW the hours in the gym (and sometimes steroids) it takes to bulk up like that!!! It isn't going to happen from a 30 min curves workout minus my stretching!!!!! :dizzy: I thank you for pointing out and reminding me about muscles working together, because when I thought about our circuit, they had no machine for the back. Also when I went in for my free trial, I had such a hard time grasping the concept of moving as fast as you can because I am so used to trying to keep perfect form and control when I strength train. I just could not get the machines to "WHOOSH" like they were supposed to!!! Lastly, Thank you, meg for the link to Tom Venuto, actually, I have his BFFM e-book, and I really respect his opinion. I know he knows what he is talking about. As for support, I will have to get it from here because there are so many nice people ready to halp and answer any questions I or anyone else might have. Thank you all for your wonderful replies, you reminded me that it takes hard work and commitment to reach my goals, (I am training to join the army afterall!)..... I know where I need to go to do that... THE GYM! :) Chimo!!

06-24-2005, 11:52 AM
The thing about curves that I was being drawn to was the camradrie of the ladies, no one being too perfect, you never feel out of place, and they measure, weigh and keep track of stats on you each month. NOW, my husband just told me last night that HE can do that for me, so there goes that need! NOT worth the $100.00 joining fee and $44.00/ month!

Okay...NOW I'm jealous!!! :devil:

I would *LOVE* to be able to work out w/my hubby but the gym just ain't his thang, darn it!

*quoting Napoleon Dynamite* ...lucky... :lol:

06-24-2005, 09:09 PM
Yay Chimo for your decision and let us know how things move along for you....

06-26-2005, 12:40 PM
My vote is the regular gym-- especially if you are preparing for military workouts. For the military, you will have to be prepared for a lot of running, push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups. You will have to train yourself to pull your body weight over walls and up ropes for the obstacle courses at boot camp too. Curves probably will not be as good at preparing you for these exercises as much as free weights, push-ups, pull-ups, etc. at a regular (traditional) gym would.

One more thing... Join the AIR FORCE, not the Army... ;) Cross into the BLUE!

06-26-2005, 01:02 PM
i jioned curves and love curves. i hate gyms. i am going to buy a body by jake cruiser to do as i watch tv . sue

06-26-2005, 07:26 PM
I joined Curves in Oct 2004 and I usually get to the recommended heartrate but don't see much change in my body.
Does this mean that I should be working at a higher heartrate?

Whoever said there is not much expert help....you are right....we are pretty well on our own. One person has mentioned to me about doing something the proper way on a machine since I've gone there.

I don't like having to sign up for a year....they didn't quite explain that to me or I wasn't listening...whatever....I'm going to quit when my year is up.

06-27-2005, 08:40 AM
Itsup2me2 - I hear you. I was a member of Curves for 8 months before joining a full gym. On the positive side, Curves got me out and into the habit of exercising. It was huge confidence builder and showed me I could do this. Unfortunately after about 4 months my body stopped responding the workouts. I fell into the trap of "it must be me" rather than understanding my body had adapted and outgrown the workout. If this is not working for you anymore, it is time to move on. I also had the year contract and was able to "buy" out of it by paying $10 for each month I had used the facility (basically reverting to the month-to-month price for the months I had used). It is worth checking out. None of us should have to do something if it is no longer working for us.