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Losing their “Curves”

January 14, 2014

Weight LossExerciseFat NewsDickweedDiet Talk

Trigger warning: Discussion of Jillian Michaels and a gym with weight loss culture.

There are many reasons why I don’t go to Curves. One being that I’m not a fan of having to move from one machine to another for exercise. When I find something I like, I stick with it. I had to take a personal fitness course in college and it was just like Curves. You move to different equipment and do a set until you’ve completed 30 minutes. Although there were some things I enjoyed (e.g., exercise bike, treadmill, stairstepper), I was not a fan of lifting weights, or walking on a balance beam, or rowing.

Curves class in Canada.

The difference between Curves and my fitness course was that weight loss was not the desired goal. There was more of a focus on getting physical activity, strength and endurance rather than getting thin. While I was self-conscious about working out with other people, since this was a required class, I wasn’t a target of fat shame that I may have been if I were at a gym. Many students just wanted to get the class done and out of the way because they, like myself, didn’t feel an exercise class should be required to be a college student. Other activities, like bowling, walking (which I took), dancing, and swimming were electives. You could move on to one of them after you completed the personal fitness course.

I always held a belief that Curves was not just a place to exercise and be comfortable because it’s for women only. Like most gyms and fitness centers, weight loss and dieting are usually part of it, and many women who go to Curves probably aren’t going there just to get some movement. I had a former coworker who decided to take a job at our local Curves. She thought that they wouldn’t talk to you about weight loss there, but it turns out weight loss and losing inches was all they would talk about there.

Now I can add another reason why I won’t be going into Curves, since my belief about them secretly being pro-weight loss has been confirmed: Jillian Michaels has partnered with Curves to launch “Curves Workouts with Jillian Michaels”. You can read about it here.

Why would Curves, which takes pride in providing a safe space for women who may be intimidated by a coed gym, join with one of the biggest fat-shamers around and an “expert” whose expertise might just be harmful to your health? Well, I suspect having Michaels, the current fitness “it girl,” on board may change their clientele a bit. Instead of a grandma who goes there to strictly move her body and get out of the house, not worrying about whether she drops a dress size, they might just get more younger women with a pro-weight loss mindset. A younger woman may also be more receptive to their “Curves Complete” program, which provides a weight-loss coach and a customizable meal plan [re: diet] along with the standard rotation workout.

I’m not going to boycott Curves or scream at them for teaming up with Jillian. Curves management probably feels this partnership can boost its membership and make it even more well-known than it already is. Money talks. It’s just too bad that out of all the fitness gurus out there, they went with a woman who’s best known for screaming at fat people on The Biggest Loser.

Imagine if they asked Ragen Chastain or Jennifer Portnick (shown below) — fat women who are also very athletic — to help them create a workout routine. There may be those who wouldn’t take them seriously, but I’m sure there would be many other women who would feel a lot more comfortable knowing there was someone who looked like the women you see on the street everyday  instead of an oiled up, Photoshopped hard body.

Proving you don’t have to be thin to lead an exercise class.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2014 11:21 am

    I remember going to Curves like, 10 years ago and before they’d even let me set foot on a piece of equipment they wanted to know how many inches I wanted to lose from various places on my body, and how much weight overall. A lady even used a tape to measure my waist, thighs, arms and chest so I knew what my measurements were exactly before I got started. When I said “I don’t know” in answer to her questions she was confused. Didn’t I want to lose inches and pounds? Not really.

    The workout was good, honestly, and I enjoyed that part, but I’ve never really wanted to go back. I’m very disappointed that Curves has joined up with Jillian. She’s gross.

  2. vesta44 permalink
    January 14, 2014 11:25 am

    Yeah, when I saw the commercial with Jillian Michaels touting her workout at Curves, my first thought was “Sure, I want an exercise routine designed by a fat-shaming, screaming shrew to help me get into shape (NOT!).” My second thought was that I hadn’t liked Curves the first time I checked them out, for the same reasons you listed – their focus was on weight loss, and that moving from machine to machine thing.
    They said they would be weighing me (not happening) and taking my measurements (also not happening). Hey, if I don’t let my doctor weigh me, what makes a gym think I’m going to let them weigh me?
    As for moving from machine to machine, with the standing and jogging in place or whatever the hell it is they expect you to do between machines, also not happening. With my mobility issues, I can’t stand in one place that long without being in pain. I also can’t use the machines that require me to stand or walk, so those were out. Then there’s also the issue that most, if not all, of their machines aren’t rated for someone who weighs 400 lbs (most exercise machines have a weight rating of 250 to 300 lbs). So there’s the safety issue, too. I really don’t think it’s a good idea for someone of my size to use machines that might not be able to hold my weight, not to mention the fact that when this much weight gets moving, it creates even more force than if I just sat/stood there on it.
    But they were all gung-ho to have me join, even after I told them I didn’t want to hear anything about dieting or losing weight – that I had been there done that, none of it worked for permanent weight loss, including a WLS back in 1997 that failed spectacularly to make me thinner. Their response was that I probably hadn’t been doing enough exercise and if I just followed their plan (diet-wise), and came in every day to exercise for 30 minutes, I’d lose weight. Yeah, right. I walked out and never looked back.
    And just to tell you how well they did in our small town – they’re no longer in business, even though they had women coming from all the small towns around us. The nearest Curves to where I live now is in St Cloud (they have 5 locations there), but that’s 45 miles from here.

  3. January 14, 2014 11:53 am

    Snopes has a long, detailed piece about the chain’s founder: Gary Heavin. I personally think that this dude’s life philosophy has always been reason enough to avoid giving his company any money. Even if I were an aficionado of gyms– which I’m not. :/

    • lifeonfats permalink
      January 14, 2014 4:57 pm

      I didn’t want to bring up his personal beliefs so the post wouldn’t become political but that’s one of my other reasons why I don’t go to Curves.

      • January 15, 2014 11:13 am

        The funny thing is: there’s one hell (pun intended) of a parallel between religious evangelism and the tactics of a creep like Michaels. Both operate on abuse and badgering cleverly couched as a path to “true” happiness. Both insist that the ends justify the means for the abuser, who really, truly “only wants to save” their target. Oh, and both profit on the backs of the insecure and unhappy– for as long as their focus is kept on “curing” an illness that doesn’t actually exist.

        Reading through a couple of the pieces here about The Biggest Loser, makes the commonalities even more obvious in my mind. Truly, the (symbolic) mating between Heavin and Michaels must be divinely ordained. :p

        • Elizabeth permalink
          January 15, 2014 2:18 pm

          I totally agree, ms_xeno. We have a local evangelical minister who loves to berate gay people, and who goes to his horrid church? Gay people! It makes me so sad that people think so little of themselves that they pay to have others abuse them.

          • January 17, 2014 10:58 am

            I know what you mean. But (in case I failed to be clear up above) I put the onus mostly on the con artists who perpetrate these rackets, not on their targets.

  4. Jessica permalink
    January 14, 2014 12:33 pm

    I can’t stand that woman!
    Planet Fitness has a partnership with TBL, thankfully they don’t shove weight loss down one’s throat. I told the trainer that I am healthy (evidenced by a metabolic blood test my evil, fat phobic ex doc ordered to try to justify her horrible shaming/lecture….Can you say backfire?) therefore I’m not interested in losing weight, just staying healthy. He did a pretty good job listening to and respecting that.

  5. January 14, 2014 2:43 pm

    Fat Fitness Instructor here. I can’t stand JM, like many folks. Having been a member of Curves as well as an instructor- I can safely concur that Curves is about 98% weight-loss based. The partnership doesn’t really surprise me- but like you said, “Money Talks” – and when Curves stops talking on the JM program, JM will move on to someplace else that can afford the “benefit” of her relationship.

    I went through a JM workout once when it was on the On Demand free workout channel. About half of that was just being astounded at the anger and frustration she had not knowing the person on the other side of the screen. There was nothing motivational about it- and I hope like heck that I never come across that way, EVER. I think movement needs to be embraced at every fitness level, safely and effectively.

  6. January 16, 2014 4:34 pm

    I would rather hang myself by my nostrils from a fish hook than work out with Jillian “The Queen of Shame” Michaels.
    On the other hand, I would jump at the chance to work out with Ragen or Jennifer.

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