Women's fitness - Curves conducts a three-week program for inactive women

What happens when inactive women begin a regular fitness program combining cardiovascular and strength-training exercise? The Forest Grove and Banks Curves joined forces last September to shed some light on this question.

Janet Long, 52, tried the three-week program and has increased her fitness time at Curves since the study came to an end. 'I have tried other fitness programs and I didn't like them,' she said. 'At Curves, you're doing different things the whole time. I just could never get anything else to work well.'

'Most people know that exercise is good for you,' said Kristen Winter, co-owner of Forest Grove Curves, 'but it was interesting to discover which areas of health and fitness specifically improved, and by how much in such a short time.'

The two Curves clubs recruited more than 40 volunteers, 36 of whom completed all aspects of the three-week fitness study. In order to participate, volunteers had to be women between the ages of 18 and 75 who were not currently exercising.

In addition to completing three 30-minute workouts per week for three weeks, each participant completed a supervised fitness profile at the beginning and end of the study. This profile recorded changes in weight, inches and percentage of body fat. Participants also rated themselves on a seven-point scale in the following areas: health, energy, stress, nutrition and fitness.

So, what were the results? The volunteers ranged in age from 19 to 69 years old, with a mean age of 43. After just three weeks on the Curves circuit, the volunteers lost an average of 1.8 pounds and five-and-a-half inches. The two top losers in the study lost 12 pounds, 10 inches and 11.5 pounds, 12 inches, respectively.

'I've lost more body fat than I've lost actual pounds,' said Long, 'but I have had to go down a size.'

The women who participated in the Curves study benefited in a myriad of other ways as well. The greatest changes were noted in the areas of energy, stress and fitness level. After only nine Curves workouts, participants rated themselves an average of 1.5 points higher on the energy level scale, and nearly two points higher in their perceived fitness level. Stress decreased by an average of 1.3 points among all participants who completed the study. Even volunteers whose weight loss was not very considerable reported significant improvement in energy, stress and fitness.

Banks Curves owner Kathy Douglas said the women 'lost weight and inches, but it was most exciting to see how much better they felt, and how much better they felt about themselves.'

'Before I went, I had just been feeling sluggish,' said Long. 'I went and I just started feeling less stressed.'

And it's nice to be in better shape. 'We went out dancing on New Year's Eve, and I did moves I could have never done before that,' said Long, referring to the Twist. Long likes Curves so much that she has increased her visits to six times a week.

What does this mean for women in the Forest Grove and Banks community? Said Winter, 'Women know they need to exercise to be healthy and fit. Taking the first step can be tough, but Curves is different. It is fast, fun fitness that really works.' At Curves, women accomplish a total-body workout through circuit training. They burn fat and tone muscle at the same time, and it takes just 30 minutes, three times a week.

'In addition to the great results, women love Curves because it is a fun, friendly atmosphere,' said Douglas. 'And it's not just for beginners or those with a lot of weight to lose.' She explained that plenty of athletes work out at Curves, along with women who have reached their goals and keep on coming to stay in shape. The clubs intend to expand on their study with more volunteers this May. Just in time for swimsuit season, ladies!

If you would like to learn more about Curves or its recent fitness study, call the club: 503-359-5454 (Forest Grove) or 503-324-9262 (Banks). Or, log on to the web site,

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