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Curves for Women(R)

Examined by the
American Council on Exercise

With more than four million female members and over 8,500 locations worldwide, Curves(R) for Women is the fastest growing franchise in U.S. history.

In an exclusive study, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's nonprofit fitness advocate, commissioned researchers from the Exercise Physiology Department at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse to determine the exercise intensity and number of calories burned in a typical Curves for Women workout.

Lead researchers Kristin A. Greany; John P. Porcari, FACSM; and Carl Foster, FACSM, tested 15 healthy women from two Curves locations in the greater La Crosse area (average age of 42). The heart rate and oxygen consumption of each participant was monitored as they participated in two complete Curves workouts.

The study found that the 30-minute Curves workout, including five minutes of stretching and cool-down, burns an average of 184 calories making it a good "moderate-intensity" workout for those who are not very active. The aerobic benefit of exercising at this intensity is equivalent to walking at a speed of four miles per hour on a level treadmill.

"At first glance, the results of the study suggest that the Curves workout offers modest training benefits because of the limited calories burned," said Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for ACE. "However, this specifically-designed circuit workout does provide participants an effective aerobic training stimulus plus the added benefit of a total-body resistance training workout."

Researchers did express some concerns about the Curves workout. The hydraulic resistance machines used in the circuit workout are not adjustable. Therefore, the machines may not perfectly fit some individuals causing them to sacrifice proper form.

Women should also avoid the temptation to turn their Curves workouts into a social hour. Researchers noted some of the women in the study were more focused on chatting during their workouts than exercising.

Finally, not all Curves franchises are staffed with skilled fitness professionals and researchers feel Curves members may benefit from having their workouts supervised by more highly-trained individuals.

Curves does offer basic fitness training for its franchise owners, however, that fitness knowledge may not effectively trickle down to individual franchise employees.

Complete study results appear in the March/April edition of ACE Fitness Matters magazine or on their Web site

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's Authority on Fitness, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction.

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