Curves Diet Program Review:

Grade: C+ Curves is great for beginner exercisers but after one month, your body will plateau if you keep doing the same Curves workout--and you have to sign up for a one year membership. Decent nutrition program. The social aspect of Curves is what keeps many women motivated to attend although others find it boring. I have not been impressed with Curve's ability to help women build muscle mass compared to the high intensity, interval training workouts that I have studied and experienced.

Curves Diet Review

Read Why This Doctor Does NOT Recommend Curves To Women

Dr. Pearsall’s Scorecard customer reviews: 71% approval out of 84 reviews 14 20
Accuracy and quality of the nutrition information 7 10
Reasonable cost 5 8
Uses a holistic weight loss approach, addressing the body, mind, and spirit 2 8
Sensible meal plans and tasty, healthy quick recipes 5 7
Emphasis is teaching healthy lifestyle changes instead of selling products 6 7
Provides a detailed functional approach to weight training and cardio fitness 4 6
Easy to follow for life 6 6
Offers effective weight loss products e.g. supplements, videos, techniques 3 6
Advice on other weight factors (hormones, food allergies, toxicity, lifestyle) 0 5
Advocates a diet of foods that are whole, natural, clean, organic and 50% raw 4 5
Advises how to individualize the program for biochemical differences 0 4
Counselors are credentialed professionals such as registered dieticians 0 4
Research and statistics support the efficacy of the program 2 4

Curves Diet ReviewCurves Diet Review

Gary and Diane Heavin, founders of Curves

Program Summary:

Curves is a gym for women only invented by Texas native Gary Heavin in 1992 as an attempt to bounce back from losing his 17-location fitness chain. And what a comeback for Gary--with over 4 million members and 9,000 locations, Curves is a household name and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest fitness franchise.

Curves is a simple concept. There are 8-14 Curves resistance machines in a circle with a wooden platform between each machine. Every 30 seconds the music tape tells you go to the next station in what is called “circuit training.” Members are encouraged to work out for 30 minutes three times a week. There is also a six-week nutrition class for an extra fee. You can try out Curves for free before you commit.

Costs: Variable depending on the current special. Normally a one time sign-up fee of $150 plus $350-470/year. No month to month memberships.

Curves also has a nutritional program which costs $69. The nutrition program is once a week for six weeks (usually one-on-one counseling due to the small demand) and includes a workbook with recipes and menus, a shake mix and a six week membership to the Curves gym. After taking a questionnaire, members will be assigned either a low-calorie or a low-carbohydrate diet for the six week period.

Pros With Curves:

1) Many women love it. (71% approval rating out of 84 Epinions Reviewers)

I went to a Curves location to try it out and asked the three women who were working out what they thought of Curves. They all said they liked it. One elderly women said, "Like it? I love it! I can’t wait to come!" is a website forum where people give their opinions such as what they think of Curves. Here is a comment by one reviewer (all Epinions quotes are colored):

I did notice, however, that I felt tons better about myself. Whether I'm immediately losing weight or not, I feel like I'm accomplishing something: I'm meeting new people (and for a person as shy as me, that's saying something), I'm spending more time with grandma, I'm toning my body, I'm eating better, I'm feeling higher amounts of self-esteem... the list can go on.

2) Safe Workouts That Can Be Individualized For Intensity

The Curves machines are resistance machines so instead of lifting weights, members are pushing and pulling against compressed air. It is virtually impossible to get injured on this type of machine. Furthermore, the machines are relatively easy to operate so anyone, no matter how old, weak, or out of shape, can do the Curves workout at their own level of resistance.

From a Curves member:

"In our facility there is a card on each of the aerobic boards that gives a target for beginners, intermediates and advanced clients on the next machine...I think it would take Charles Atlas to reach the advanced goals."

3) Welcoming Environment

The staff member at Curves told me that women enjoy Curves because they did not feel intimidated like they did at the gym. Women also enjoy the social aspects of Curves. The small, circular layout provides an intimate setting for women to face each other and talk while they work out. Some women come in pairs so they can chat and workout at the same time.

"When I showed up, I weighed way too much and felt very self-conscious. It was easy for me to shed those feelings of reluctance as soon as I saw that everyone there was just like me. And that no one really cared how I looked. The women there do some of the wildest, craziest, scariest dances on the recovery stations. Before long, I was excited to be there and thoroughly enjoying my workout."

4) Some Women Lose Weight

"In 8 months at Curves, I have lost 50 inches and 60 pounds!"

5) The Nutrition Program Has A Good Foundation

Gary Heavin designed the nutrition program which includes a nutritional guide that provides serving sizes, recipes, menus, goal setting, daily diary, exercise recording. The menus are simple and easy to prepare such as chicken breast and green beans, or cottage cheese and cantaloupe and emphasize healthy protein and produce combinations. The plan seemed fairly easy to follow. At the location I visited, the manager said that the program is usually one-on-one counseling for 30 minutes a week due to the fact that the members have already followed numerous diets or they are already enrolled in another diet program like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. I think this is a shame because the nutritional advice in the Curves guide was far superior to Weight Watchers or any of the other weight loss franchises--at a fraction of the price.

Cons With Curves:

1) Boredom With The Routine

At Curves, you will be doing the exact same workout every time. Not only is this monotonous for the mind (which is the biggest complaints of the members), it is monotonous for the body. Your fat loss will plateau if you are doing the same workout all the time as the body habituates to the routine. In order to avoid plateaus, you need to constantly change the intensity and routine of your workouts.

"Your body gets used to the same workout after a while and you won't see any results. After 1 month of working out there, I got bored and I haven't returned there yet."

2) Too Darn Easy

I know I’m going to make many of Curves devotees upset with what I’m going to say but I’m not planning on running for President any time soon.

I did the 30 minute routine. I pushed and pulled on the machines as fast and as hard as I could. I vigorously jumped up and down on the wooden platforms as if they were on fire. But I’m sorry to say, I did not break a sweat. I thought it was comparable to going for a stroll.

In my opinion, Curves is a good start for people who can only do low-intensity workouts. These people may include those who are exercise beginners, obese, elderly, sick or extremely out of shape.

However, if you really want to be physically fit, you will eventually need to do some higher intensity workouts each week. After 3-6 months, many women will be ready for more intense workouts but unfortunately you have to commit to a full year membership at Curves.

"The workout is not challenging enough. You can't do anything different. I leave feeling as though I have not had a workout."

"After my first few trips to Curves (I joined February 19, 2004) I immediately started noticing changes, though not the kind I wanted. Like many women, I was hoping to see slimmer thighs and a smaller butt by the second week. This isn't the case at Curves; if you're looking for a 6-pack or if you are into serious training, you will want something more heavy-duty than Curves."

3) Staff Are Not Health Professionals

Quite a few reviews on Epinions expressed concerns that the staff lacked expertise and didn't know what they were doing. The gyms I have belonged to in the past had personal trainers on staff who were familiar with the equipment and with weight loss. There are no qualifications to own or work at a Curves.


"The staff could have cared less what was going on, they sat on their FAT (yes, they were NOT utilizing the equipment themselves, obviously) butts and played solitaire and surfed the web."

4) Expensive For What You Get

You can pay $620/yr. with Curves which is typically a small room in a strip mall with 8-12 resistance machines in a circle. No showers. No lockers. Most gym memberships are cheaper than Curves and offer so much more. Take for instance the community center fitness facility I belong to for $150 a year with a huge workout gym, Olympic pool, lockers, showers, fitness classes, massage, tennis and racquetball, basketball etc. There is no comparison. And don't forget that coed gyms offer women a perk that all women gyms cannot--being able to watch scanitly clad men flex their muscles. Some of the eye candy alone is worth the membership.

5) Limited Hours of Operation

Unlike gyms where the hours are from early morning to late night seven days a week, Curves tends to have limited hours (but this varies as each franchise sets their own hours). This was one of the biggest complaints on Epinions.


"Curves is not for the working woman. The franchise hours are M-F 9-6 and Sat. 9-12 and are set up to cater to stay-at-home or retired women."

On the other hand, this Curves member wrote to say:
"I am happy with the hours at my Curves which are 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. M-F and 7:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays."

6) Wait For Equipment

Unlike a gym, only a small number of people can work out at Curves due to the limited number of machines. Curves members have complained about having to wait at times.

7) Nutrition Program Has Some Flaws

Based on a short quiz, you are assigned recommended to follow either a low carb diet or a calorie restricted diet of 1200 calories. However, the amount of calories you eat should be based on your current weight and ideal weight as a diet of 1200 calories can be difficult and unhealthy for anyone but those who are very petite. Also, there are two desserts listed in the menu: a Splenda based mousse (artificial sweeteners are bad news) and ice cream and my experience with weight loss clients is that most of the time there is a an addiction to sugar that needs to be addressed which is difficult to do when they are told to eat it as part of their nutrition program.

8) Shady Business Practices

The gyms I have belonged to offered a month-to-month membership and the allowance of canceling your yearly membership if you move or have a doctor's notice that you are unable to work out. Not Curves. Read these comments from former Curves members:

"I never went back. I still had to pay the monthly fee for an entire year and then found out they had automatically signed me up for another year even though I had not gone there in 10 months (it's in the very, very small print in the contract.) I called and they would not accept a phone call request to cancel it. I had to appear in person or write a letter... ugh!!"


"I signed up with Curves, paid a big sign up fee, plus one month's exercise fee and gave them access to my bank account. Shortly thereafter, I became chronically ill, disabled, and handicapped (I now walk with a cane). I never, ever exercised at a Curves for Women! I called them and told them what happened to me and that I'd never be exercising again. Then I never heard anything from them, not a bill, nothing. And yet one year later, they turned me over to a nasty collection agency. I went into their place, using my cane and in obvious pain and asked them why. They said it was their business practice to declare the whole contract due despite my disability and handicap. BEWARE OF CURVES."


"They were horrible right from the start. They lied to us regarding payment and contract length, They wouldn't cancel my membership, despite a medical condition and I found out today, that DESPITE my request to terminate my membership the INSTANT my contract expired, they charged me for another month! And when I called to discuss it, THEY HUNG UP ON ME BEFORE I COULD EVEN INTRODUCE MYSELF. I HATE THIS COMPANY!!!"


"Be very careful when canceling your membership. When membership is cancelled, They will still deduct monthly membership fees and finding someone in a main office to help is impossible."


"After my first few trips to Curves (I joined February 19, 2004) I immediately started noticing changes, though not the kind I wanted. Like many women, I was hoping to see slimmer thighs and a smaller butt by the second week. This isn't the case at Curves; if you're looking for a 6-pack or if you are into serious training, you will want something more heavy-duty than Curves."

Please note that this is not true for everyone, one member had this to say about her cancellation:

"When I was ill I had no trouble cancelling my membership and it was restarted when I was given health clearance."

Conclusion :
In light of all the negatives associated with Curves, especially their draconian rules with their memberships, I find it difficult to recommend it.
However, I cannot ignore Curves 71% approval rating on Epinions where the majority of women loved Curves despite its flaws. Some of the Curves critics on Epinions suggested that Curves may be a good fit for those who are:
  • Extremely out of shape
  • New to exercise
  • Elderly
  • Obese
  • Physically handicapped, injured, or ill

However, there are many exercise options for these populations besides Curves. What about walking, swimming, yoga, or weight training with videos in your own home? You can also find very affordable exercise classes for all levels of fitness that are led by a live instructor and are different every time.

If you are a big fan of Curves, and you've been with them for more than a year, please ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your BMI in the normal range (19-24)?
  • Is your body fat percentage no more than 25%?
  • If you were evaluated by a personal trainer, would s/he say that you were in great physical shape?
  • Can you jog more than 30 minutes? Run 30-second sprints? Perform 15 consecutive push-ups? Do 5 pull-ups?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then by all means keep doing what you're doing, including Curves. But if not, and you are physically able, it may be time to progress to a new level of fitness.


About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)