After completing a week of trying to adhere to my New Year’s resolutions to stop eating Pop Tarts, de-clutter my counter, spend more time with friends and family, and exercise, I find that perhaps I need to work a little harder.
I have not completely sworn off Pop Tarts, but have switched from the brown sugar and cinnamon kind to the strawberry variety — strawberry is a fruit, so it must be better for me!
Since I had to dig through a pile of my kids’ school papers to catch a glimpse of my counter, I am guessing I am not doing too well with my second task at this point, either.
My accomplishments lie in the fact that I have seen a few friends and spoken to a couple of family members, and am proud to say that I exceeded my weekly workout goal by getting to the gym four times instead of three!
Two or three days after my Pilates class last week, the soreness in my abs dissipated, and, unfortunately, so did the good posture that I thought I had achieved from the class. It was then that I decided to conquer the Curves chain of women’s fitness centers.
Curves is based on the circuit training method of working out that has become increasingly popular with both men and women. It combines a cardiovascular activity, toning, and resistance training in a time-efficient workout.
Lonnie Soloff, the Cleveland Indians’ head trainer, writes, “Circuit training plays an integral role in the off-season workouts of many professional athletes.”
If it’s good enough for elite athletes, I guess it’s good enough for me.
I didn’t know a lot about Curves, so I set out on a Saturday morning to meet with Curves trainer Kristin Simone at the Groton Curves at 120 Boston Road.
Simone was more energetic, cheerful, and encouraging than any person possibly could be at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. She introduced me to the concept and instructions on how to properly complete the “circuit.”
There is a large circle of 12 hydraulic machines with a cardiovascular “jumping mat” in between each one. You spend 30 seconds on a machine and then 30 seconds on one of the mats, either jogging in place, dancing or doing jumping jacks.
This assures that your heart rate will maintain a cardiovascular level to burn calories and fat, while working on the machines allows for strength training.
Simone explained that there are usually 4-7 women working out at a time.
“You can jump in anywhere in the circle and then do three complete rounds on the circuit. We have a great group of women who work out here, from 15 to 83! I think Curves is quick and convenient and can fit into anyone’s schedule,” Simone said.
Marilyn Burke, a Curves member from Groton, is just about to celebrate her 200th visit. “I have been coming since June 2005 and I find it really convenient and the price is reasonable. I try to get here three times a week after I get out of work,” Burke said.
I confidently jumped into the “circuit” dressed in sweats and carrying a water bottle, hoping that if a fabulous 83-year-old woman can successfully navigate the circle of machines, so could I.
The workout was very manageable and took about 36 minutes to complete.
I saw that the workout is very dependent upon the effort you put in. If you work hard and do a lot of repetitions and jog fast during the 30-second intervals between machines, you will work up a sweat and challenge your body. If you want to take it easier on any given day, you can modify your workout accordingly.
Nuts and bolts
While all of the Curves branches operate under the same philosophy, each one has its own unique qualities.
In Groton, manager Beverly Jeffers, who has worked for Curves for four years, said, “All women should have some sort of exercise regime and I think our gym is a great choice. It serves its purpose of giving you a great workout, while providing a fun environment to be able to talk and socialize with other women as well.”
The Groton branch, with roughly 300 members, is open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. then 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 :30 p.m. Jeffers added that each workout takes 30 to 40 minutes, so the latest you should go into the gym is an hour before the closing time.
The Curves branch in Ayer has been managed by Dena Brant since June and has over 275 members frequenting the club. Brant, who also works out at the club, believes her Curves branch is “friendly and supportive.” The Ayer Curves is open 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8-11 a.m. on Saturday.
The Townsend Curves, managed by Carol Gelin, boasts that they have members ranging in age from 18 to 88. “It’s an easy-going place that’s reasonably priced. It’s not intimidating and no one feels like they have to ‘keep up with the Joneses.'” Gelin said. Townsend is open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8-11 a.m. on Saturday.
Another convenience of Curves is that if you have a year’s membership, you can use any of the over 9,000 Curves gyms nationwide.
Join me next week when I work out at the Nashoba Valley Fitness Center with Ed Geisel, personal trainer and Mr. Massachusetts in the heavyweight division.
I think I may have to invest in matching workout gear for this one