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!
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)?
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
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?
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!