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Curves International
Type Private company
Founded Harlingen, Texas (1992)
Headquarters Waco, Texas
Key people Gary Heavin, CEO & Founder
Mike Raymond, President
Industry Fitness
Products Weight loss
Exercise, Physical Fitness
Revenue Template:Profit $2.630 Billion(estimated) USD (2004)
Employees 160 (2004)

Curves International, also known as Curves for Women, Curves Fitness, or just Curves, is an international fitness franchise co-founded by Gary and Diane Heavin in 1995. Curves currently has 10,000 locations worldwide and an estimated 4 million plus members (as of October 2006).[1] The company is privately held by its co-founders, with corporate offices located in Waco, Texas. Curves fitness and weight loss facilities are designed specifically for and focused on women, although in some states, men are allowed to join.

History Edit

Curves was founded by Gary Heavin and his wife, Diane. They opened their first Curves in Harlingen, Texas, in 1992. This new concept of 30-minute fitness, strength training, weight-loss guidance, and an environment designed for women was immediately successful. They began to develop plans for franchising the concept, with the first opening in 1995. Curves claims it is the world's largest fitness franchise and was recently recognized as one of the 10 largest franchise companies in the world.[2] According to Curves International Inc's fact sheet, Curves achieved 6,000 franchises in 7 years. Curves facilities are located in over 60 countries, including the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. Curves is known as FitCurves in Ukraine, Slovakia and Russia.

Curves fitness and weight loss facilities are designed specifically for and focused on women, although today many of the centers allow men to join.[3] The program is designed around circuit training, which utilizes hydraulic resistance equipment to achieve results. The strength training regimen is combined with cardiovascular training for a full body workout.

Research at Baylor University Edit

In 2002, the Exercise & Sports Nutrition Laboratory at Baylor University began researching the efficacy of the Curves fitness and weight loss program. Curves awarded the ESNL a $5 million, five-year grant to start the Curves Women's Health Initiative.[4].

In 2008 this grant funding moved with Dr. Richard Kreider to the Texas A&M University[5].

The mission of the initiative is to examine the short and long-term efficacy of the Curves fitness and weight loss programs, identify ways to optimize the Curves program through various diet, exercise, and/or nutritional interventions; and examine ways to improve the health and well-being of women.

Among the research findings: the Curves program seems to be effective in increasing calories burned at rest, reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis, and helping women lose weight and maintain weight loss. A study of the effect of calcium supplements on weight loss showed that calcium might aid weight loss by preventing the release of fat-storing hormones that are usually released when a person reduces calories enough to promote weight loss.

Results of completed studies have been published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, Sports Nutrition Review Journal, and Nutrition and Metabolism.[6]

Controversies Edit

Gary Heavin's charitable contributionsEdit

In 2004, Curves International and its franchisees received some mixed and unwanted publicity stemming from articles about the charitable contributions of founder Gary Heavin.

In an interview with Today's Christian, Heavin was quoted as saying that he donates money to "pro-life pregnancy care centers."[7]

The San Francisco Chronicle printed an article by feminist Ruth Rosen, accusing Heavin of supporting militant anti-abortion groups. [8] However, in an open letter to the Chronicle, Heavin challenged and rebutted Rosen's article.[9] The Chronicle later published a lengthy correction.[8]

Numerous blogs picked up the erroneous version of the story, and several other articles on the subject subsequently appeared in other mainstream media.[10] The publicity affected business at some individual franchises, particularly in the U.S. West Coast region (specifically California) and a few in the Atlantic Northeast and Pacific Northwest, causing an uproar from franchisees of Curves International.[11]

Although the errors were corrected, business was affected, with memberships down and some franchisees severing their ties with Curves.[12]

Buyout-related lawsuitEdit

Another controversy came into play in 2005 when six plaintiffs brought a suit against Curves, Gary Heavin, and Roger Schmidt (the company's attorney) for $20 million.[13][14] The plaintiffs claimed that Heavin cheated them out of their share of profits by he and Roger Schmidt pressuring them to sign a buyout contract allotting them a fraction of what they might have earned.

In IrelandEdit

In 2008 a Curves branch in Dublin ran into controversy for sending letters to local secondary schools inviting staff and students (as young as age twelve) for a free tour and "figure analysis." The National Parents Council described the letter as worrying. The company apologised for the incident.[15]

Awards and recognition Edit

  • Number 1. Best New Franchise - Entrepreneur Magazine (two years in a row)
  • Number 2. Best Franchise Overall - Entrepreneur Magazine (two years in a row)
  • The World's Fastest Growing Franchise Entrepreneur Magazine (two years in a row)
  • The World's Fastest Growing Franchise in History - Reuters News Service
  • Entrepreneur of the Year 2004 - Ernst & Young
  • Gold Effy Award - American Marketing Association
  • Visionary of the Year 2004 - International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association
  • World's Largest Fitness Center Franchise - Guinness World Records
  • Number 15 Best Franchise Overall - 2007 Franchise 500 Rankings, Entrepreneur Magazine
  • America's Top Global Franchises - #7 (2007); #3 (2006); #2 (2005); #2 (2004)
  • Ranked #1 in category in - (2007); (2006); (2005); (2004); (2003)
  • Franchise 500 rank - #15 (2007); #3 (2006); #2 (2005); #2 (2004); #2 (2003)
  • Entrepreneur's Fastest-Growing Franchises - #23 (2007); #5 (2006); #1 (2005); #2 (2004); #1 (2003)

In popular culture Edit

Curves has been parodied in The Simpsons, in the episode entitled Husbands and Knives, in which Marge opens a successful franchise of a gym called Shapes, and in an episode of South Park entitled D-Yikes!.

References Edit

External links and sources Edit

See alsoEdit