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Jeruba's avatar

Curves vs. 24-Hour Fitness vs. other: opinions, recommendations?

Asked by Jeruba (51640points) June 28th, 2009

I am interested in joining a health and weight loss program for exercise and coaching. I’m pretty well out of shape and have some knee and spine problems. I also have a lot of resistance to overcome but feel motivated to try something. Any comments and experience to share?

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34 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Well, Jeruba, my reasoning for choosing absolutely any place over Curves may not suit others, but I will provide it nonetheless.

The founder of Curves is a born again Christian who funds anti-abortion causes. Here is the information on that.This is not disclosed to the women who use the facility. For me, it is a matter of where I would put my money and that is a place that I will not.

marinelife's avatar

I feel compelled to step off my political exercise bike and respond to the question from the physical fitness viewpoint.

I have had several friends who have had better luck sticking to regimes by picking places that offer various fitness classes. Some at the Y, some at commercial centers.

Good luck with wherever you choose.

ru2bz46's avatar

Find a good yoga studio with Yoga Alliance registered instructors. I know, that’s my answer to everything, but it is a full-body workout (vinyasa style), which incorporates cardio, deep stretch, strength, etc. without using weights (which have a bigger chance to cause injury if done wrong). It is also no-impact, so it’s easy on the knee joints. Strengthening the core muscles (abs and back) will help your spine. You may also want some yin yoga, which focuses on deep stretches, immediately prior to a vinyasa class.

I had 65 year old guys, smoking, and running circles around me on the archery range three years ago. I have done nothing but change my diet three years ago, then started vinyasa yoga a year and a half ago. I’ve dropped from 200 down to 155 and lowered my cholesterol by 76 points to 157. My doctor even told me that yoga has the same or better rate of healing than their physical therapy department can achieve.

Zaku's avatar

Vera Fitness

AstroChuck's avatar

Being a guy, I’ll stay with my 24-Hour Fitness membership, thank you very much.

autumn43's avatar

Curves has a 12 circuit rotation that will work for the first six weeks probably, but once you continue to do the same rotation, there won’t be much benefit if you aren’t able to mix up your exercise/workout routine.

Joining a gym and getting instruction from people there will help you. If you have cable TV you could check out their options for exercise TV.

The Wii fit with balance board is also a good way to get motivated and have fun doing so. That helped jumpstart me to losing 30 lb. last winter and I have since joined a gym and have more energy and motivation and have lost 12 more pounds since March.

Whatever you choose, I wish you luck. It’s great you are looking to improve your health. I never thought I could do what I’m doing now, and it’s great to feel better and eat right through changing diet and exercising.

casheroo's avatar

Wherever you go, don’t go to LA Fitness. They are dreadful to deal with when it comes to finances, and it’s a lot extra for a personal trainer.
Good luck!

Darwin's avatar

I don’t know much about Curves, 24-Hour Fitness, or even LA Fitness. However, I have done best at places that offer a variety of activities and classes. It helps with both the boredom factor as well as the need to not use the same muscles day after day.

Right now we belong to a stand-alone club that has two pools, one for lap swimming and one for water aerobics (which is a good thing for anyone with joint issues), traditional free weights, various machines for cardio and for muscle-building, an indoor track, indoor and outdoor tennis, racketball and basketball, a variety of free classes (including yoga, salsa dancing, step aerobics, martial arts aerobics, spinning and others), and a variety of paid classes.

I like being able to do different activities on different days. It also has the added benefit of not stressing the exact same body parts day after day, so I have fewer stress injuries.

Both the YWCA and the YMCA locally offer many of these same things and are fairly reasonable in price, and there may be other places in your area. Our junior college, for example, offers water aerobics, while our local senior centers offer a variety of classes ranging from yoga to aerobics to martial arts.

Judi's avatar

Curves is a great place to start exercising. It is very simple and not at all intimidating. It also is not real challenging. They also have crappy hours. I really liked the Walk Away The Pounds videos when I was just starting getting in shape. Curves hours just never worked for me and the big gyms were just to intimidating at the time.

cwilbur's avatar

A lot probably depends on how fitness-savvy you are. If you know what you need to do and just need the equipment to do it, just about any gym will do. If you want classes and support, you might want to try trial memberships and participating in a few classes to see what they’re like at each place.

That said, I know people who have run Curves franchises, and I don’t think it’s a business I’d be comfortable supporting—even if I didn’t think the women-only policy was inappropriate.

Jeruba's avatar

Not savvy at all, @cwilbur. A fitness idiot with a lot of resistance, facing up to the fact that this is not good.

I find workouts desperately boring, and watching TV while doing it would only make it worse. The kind of music I listen to does not have an aerobic beat. And empty chitchat with strangers who have nothing in common but a need to shape up makes me want to weep. I don’t have the personality for this. It’s just a matter of recognizing that for most of what I do want to do, I won’t get far without a body.

Darwin's avatar

@Jeruba – If you like to swim at all, water aerobics can be a fun way to start off. I am a seriously inert person and find exercise to be both boring and painful, but I really liked water aerobics. I also find that simply using the gym’s treadmill or stationary bike with my own music or even a book on tape is a good way to start working on cardio health.

There is also yoga and tai chi, and a number of different dance-based classes that could help you.

You can also simply work on lifestyle changes, such as using stairs instead of elevators, riding a bike or walking to nearby destinations, parking at the far end of the lot, and so on. Even mall walking with an intelligent friend can be a good thing.

To be honest, I do best if I am working with another person if only because I don’t like to break promises so I show up when they have agreed to also. You might even consider a personal trainer for a while, until you find an activity or two that you will do without needing encouragement, or until you have learned enough about what you need to do to be able to create your own program.

Judi's avatar

@Jeruba; you are a woman after my own heart. If I can do it anyone can. People like us need to PLAY, not exercise, but life does not alwys afford us the opportunity. You may want to start with a restorative yoga class so you can get some instant gratification without a lot of sweat. Just remember, you don’t have to be an athlete, you just have to move your body. Something is better than nothing. Short bouts are totally acceptable.

Jeruba's avatar

Thank you, @Judi, thank you, thank you. I am grateful for ALL responses, including a warning away from the politics of Curves (I stopped buying Welch’s products years ago for similar reasons), but I think you really tuned in on me.

@Darwin, swimming is an awfully good idea, but all the extra steps of changing, showering, etc., not to mention having to shop for a bathing suit in the first place, just give me too many excuses to avoid it. I need to slide on in pretty easily if I am going to manage to do this. Maybe I can get there a bit later on.

Darwin's avatar

@Judi – Consider swimming at a place that allows you to wear shorts, a sports bra and a t-shirt.

Jeruba's avatar

Update: I have just visited the nearest YMCA, taken a nice tour, inquired about classes, talked with one of the exercise program directors, and come away with a 3-day trial pass and an appointment with a personal trainer. Gee, those pools did look good, too. And I saw some folks there who are older than I am, including one old coot walking with a cane. Very encouraging.

cwilbur's avatar

@Jeruba: I used to find working out desperately boring, but then I started treating it as a sort of meditation time. For most of the day, my brain works while my body sits idle. This is my body working while my brain sits idle. So I get on a treadmill or elliptical trainer that adjusts the resistance automatically based on my heart rate, and put on music, and just keep going for 20 minutes. Or on other days I pay attention to my breathing and the feeling of my muscles as I move, which incidentally involves moving weights around. It’s a matter of changing the mindset.

And what I found was, after I had established this routine, I really really missed it when I had to skip a day. I had more energy, I thought more clearly—probably a combination of the mental rest and the improved blood flow—and I was in a better mood overall.

I think you’re probably on the right track—you can talk to your personal trainer and look at the facilities at your YMCA. Before I moved, I worked out at the local Y, and it was wonderful—all substance, no glitz; well-maintained equipment, clean facilities, and friendly, helpful staff, but without the stand & model attitude that I had seen at other gyms.

Jeruba's avatar

@cwilbur, thanks for the good advice. That’s encouraging. I don’t have any problem sitting silent and motionless on a zafu for 40 minutes, but for some reason exercise equipment brings out all my attitude.

The person who showed me around at the Y asked me cheerily which kind of cardio equipment I like and looked kind of taken aback when I said I don’t like any of it. (My only experience of it has been two courses of physical therapy for spine problems.) I will make myself do this. I am so hoping that I’ll have a change of heart like yours because I really don’t want to hate it if I’m going to do it.

I don’t believe I own any music written in 2/4 time.

Judi's avatar

@Jerubu; The key is to be content with ANY progress and realize that as long as you are moving your body you’re doing more than if you had stayed home. You don’t have to be an athlete. I felt (and still feel a lot) like you do. I was determined to change my mind set. I got a really good trainer who knew exactly how much to push me, and I not only lost 80 lbs, but I ended up walking a marathon.
I was always the kid chosen last for every sports event, and I absolutely hated any thing that had anything to do with athletics. It was a block stemming back to the teasing I suffered in grade school. I still get emotional when I think about it and need a very special kind of trainer to motivate me.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, I think I meant 2/2 time, like march music, but it turns out marches are mostly written in 4/4. Rock music the same. Anyway, I don’t have music with a lot of percussion or a one-two beat.

I think your experience and mine must have been a lot alike, @Judi. In school I was the wispy little skinny one with the short legs and thin arms, and a year younger to boot, no asset on any team. I hated Red Rover worst of all; it was one big stomach ache for me. As a kid I ran and played hard, roller skated and jumped rope and climbed trees, but I was not cut out for athletics of any kind. Later a sedentary occupation, aversion to exercise, and a lack of discipline did their worst. Now I want to reverse that to whatever extent I can without killing myself at it. All this encouragement is helping immensely. Thank you.

ru2bz46's avatar

@Jeruba ”...when I said I don’t like any of it.”

Remember, pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. It’s all in your attitude.

Addendum: Also, I share your story of sports in school, which is why I do archery and yoga; both are solitary activities. In archery, though I shoot with others, my real competition is myself…to do my personal best. Yoga is non-competitive by nature, and it is also something in which I can strive to do my personal best.

Judi's avatar

Just keep moving!! Even walking is absolutely great. I’d even bet that you are the type of person who could really appreciate the sound of the birds singing on a 20 minuet walk in the morning.

ru2bz46's avatar

@Judi I’d lurve to actually see a 20-minuet walk! ;-)

Judi's avatar

@ru2bz46 ; are you making fun of my creative spelling?

ru2bz46's avatar

@Judi I’m not making fun, just entertaining my own imagination spurred on by your creative spelling. ;-)

cwilbur's avatar

@Jeruba, @Judi: I had (and have) horrible depth perception, which makes me hopeless at any game that involves tracking a moving ball. I’m also not motivated at all by team dynamics, which means not only am I not terribly good at tracking that moving ball, but the scorn and derision of my teammates, even when it’s playful and friendly, doesn’t do a damned thing to motivate me to improve. So my sport was wrestling.

And then I graduated from high school, and my college didn’t have a team, and that was that. And in high school all the team workouts were miserable, because the coach turned them into competitions; see above, re: team mentality meets cwilbur. So it wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I set foot in a gym again and realized just how good working out feels.

As far as music goes – I find that almost anything works, and that meter and percussion aren’t that critical, although I did fall off a treadmill once when my iPod shuffled in one of Shostakovich’s waltzes, from one of the suites for jazz band….

I’d suggest something like this: in consultation with the trainer, figure out how to set a machine for 20 minutes of “fat burn.” That will give you 20 minutes where the machine will adapt to keep your heart rate at a certain point, and then something like another 5 minutes of cooling down. If you do that three days a week, you’ll see an improvement. And then, when that doesn’t seem like enough—especially if you start to enjoy it—you can increase the time, or go more often, or try different machines. There was a while where I was doing 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day of the week, and it was amazing.

Also, if that kind of shutting your brain off while your body exercises doesn’t work for you, you can always put on your iPod and go for a good brisk walk. If you’re walking at a pace where it’s not entirely easy to carry on a conversation, you’re getting good exercise.

Judi's avatar

@cwilbur ; I love it when us PE dunces find a way to make fitness work for us!!! Pats on the back and atta girls for all!!!

ru2bz46's avatar

@cwilbur Women often have trouble judging distance. It’s probably because we always lie to you about length. ;-)

augustlan's avatar

I’m pretty sure cwilbur is a man. But I’ve been wrong before!

ru2bz46's avatar

Ooh, good point. @Judi got me confused for a moment with the “atta girls for all” comment. :-\

Judi's avatar

I thought @cwilbur was a woman. It’s kind of cool how people can be gender neutral here. sorry @cwilbur if I messed up.

ru2bz46's avatar

@Judi Twice the other day I was referred to as a woman. Maybe I shouldn’t be showing my beaver around. ;-)

cwilbur's avatar

@ru2bz46: I’ve been lied to about length before, but I have my own measuring stick to judge by, so I’m not confused. @augustlan is right.

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