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Curves members mobilize to save lease

By Staff | Jan 22, 2009

Don’t underestimate the power of a group of women – especially if they’ve been working out.

When local Curves For Women owner Heather Valentine was told by her leasing company last Wednesday that she would either have to sign a new five-year lease or vacate the premises within 30 days, their timing couldn’t have been worse.

Blaming a host of unforeseen personal responsibilities that is distracting her from her duties at Curves, Valentine is considering selling the business.

“Signing a five-year lease at this point in time – and this economy – doesn’t make much sense,” said Valentine. “But, this business needs to stay here.”

That’s when a group of Curves members, led by work-out enthusiast Elise Kennedy, sprang to action.

“We got the word out that there was a group of women on the island who were not very happy,” said Kennedy.

Her sentiments were quickly echoed by a small throng of ladies seeking a lunch-hour workout as they descended upon a visitor to make their feelings about their beloved Curves known.

“We were ready to mutiny – to revolt!” exclaimed long-time Curves member Edwina of Michigan. “I call this place ‘Cheers.'”

The ladies’ passion for their workout has paid dividends beyond the traditional healthy loss of pounds and inches. Evidently, no one wants to tangle with a large group of physically fit women, either. Valentine was notified on Monday that her lease would be extended on a month-to-month basis.

“I’m thinking that any new owner will probably jump at the chance to sign a five-year lease,'” said Valentine.

Curves, a circuit work-out facility for women only, is located locally at 2496 Palm Ridge Road in Sanibel. With more than 10,000 facilities worldwide, and more than four million members, Curves is the largest fitness franchise in the world – and since members can obtain a travel pass for use at any Curves facility, the Sanibel location sees heavy traffic not only from its local clients – but also from seasonal residents and visitors as well. Because the circuit is the same everywhere, members already know how everything works, said Valentine.

“They can just jump right in,” she added.

“I can leave Minneapolis on Monday and be back at Curves on Tuesday,” said frequent island visitor Kay McReavy, who has been a member for 11 years.

“It’s the first place I head,” said seasonal resident Dale Reiss, who admits to a bit of socializing while she works out. “I can find out all the news on the island.”

Valentine also said that routine is a very important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and that Curves fits that bill perfectly, providing locations all over the world so members never have to break that routine, no matter where they may travel.

“I’ve visited Curves in places as far away as Guam,” said Kennedy, who takes advantage of the travel pass whenever she finds herself away from home.

Gail Toye of Lexington, Ky., spends six months each year on Sanibel, and said that she has been a member of Curves for a long time.

“I jumped for joy when I found them here!” she exclaimed.

Her excitement was echoed by Ginny Houtman, who is also a six-month resident. “It’s like a big family, and everyone is welcome,” she said.

Jay Solomon takes care of the desk at Curves and does her best to motivate members as they work their way around the various Curves workout stations.

“There’s always someone here to help,” said Solomon, adding that new members are accompanied on the circuit by a staff member during each of their first three visits, so they can learn the correct way of using the equipment and how to measure their heart rate. “And if someone’s not working out as hard as they should be, well, I’m in charge of motivation, too.”

The circuit takes 30 minutes to complete, and members are urged to visit the facility at least three times a week.

“We urge our members to supplement their Curves workouts with cardio exercises such as walking on the off-days,” said Valentine, who stresses the importance of building healthy muscle while working the heart muscle.

A tone sounds every 30 seconds prompting exercisers to move to the next station on the circuit, so no one ever has to wait for a piece of equipment to open up, as they may have to do in a traditional gym setting. Members are frequently reminded to check their heart rate to determine if they are working out as hard as they should be – or if perhaps they’re pushing it a little too hard.

The total body workout circuit incorporates both cardio and strength-training exercises, and since all the equipment is hydraulic, it adapts to each individual’s abilities, explained Valentine, who is an enthusiastic fan of the Curves circuit, despite having to sell.

“Because the hydraulic strength-training equipment is designed specifically for use by women, it only works as hard as you do,” she said. “This means that Curves is ideal for just about everyone – including those with health problems.”

Every member must fill out a health profile when they join, and Valentine and Solomon keep a close eye on those with health problems to be sure they are not overdoing it. Every month, members are weighed and measured, “Because sometimes, you don’t see the results yourself,” said Valentine. “Not until your pants start falling off!”

Valentine said she plans to find a Curves location near her home if and when she sells the Sanibel business.

“I just can’t imagine joining a traditional gym again,” she added.

Curves is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 3 to 6 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Saturdays from 8 to 11 a.m. Additional operating hours will be made available as necessary during the height of the tourist season. For additional information, or to discuss the franchise opportunity, call Heather Valentine at Curves at 472-2600.