|Founded||Harlingen, Texas (1992)|
|Key people||Gary Heavin, CEO & Founder
Mike Raymond, President
Exercise, Physical Fitness
|Revenue||$2.630 Billion(estimated) USD (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 was said to have 10,000 locations worldwide and an estimated 4 million plus members in October 2006. In May 2012, the company's website listed 3,175 locations in the United States). 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.
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. According to Curves International Inc's fact sheet, Curves achieved 6,000 franchises in 7 years. Curves facilities are located in over 85 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Japan. Curves is known as FitCurves in Ukraine, Slovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Kazakhstan, Poland, the Czech Republic and Russia.
Curves fitness and weight loss facilities are designed specifically for and focused on women. 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
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.
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.
In 2010 The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) awarded Dr. Richard Kreider, head of the Department of Health & Kinesiology at Texas A&M University, the 2010 NSCA Nutrition Research Achievement Award for his work on the Curves studies.
Numerous studies have shown that the Curves' programs have proven effective at helping women lose weight, gain muscle strength, and raise metabolism with aerobic activity, all of which contribute to healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
January 2010 - Curves founder Gary Heavin flew the company jet to shuttle United States doctors back and forth to Haiti to aid earthquake victims. To help out even more, Curves sold a specially designed Haitian relief T-shirt, which was available at participating Curves locations. All proceeds from T-shirts sales were donated to provide food, clothing, shelter, and other basic needs in Haiti.
May 2010 - This spring, Curves clubs participated in the 12th annual Curves Food Drive. Together, the clubs collected 7 million pounds of food to benefit local food banks. Since 2004, the Curves Food Drive has brought in more than 61 million pounds of food.
March 2011 - Gary and Diane Heavin were selected to be part of an episode of ABC's Secret Millionaire. They packed the bare essentials and were taken to the Houston, Texas Third Ward to spend 10 days undercover in a 1920s row house. At the conclusion of the episode, the Heavins collectively gifted $410,000 to three local organizations: The Lazarus House, No More Victims, Inc., and The Sean Ashley House.
Gary Heavin's charitable contributions
In 2004, Curves International and its franchisees received some mixed and unwanted publicity stemming from articles about the charitable contributions of founder Gary Heavin.
Heavin was heavily praised by pro-life advocates for pulling all contributions to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity due to the fact that Komen donated money to Planned Parenthood in grants as part of Komen's efforts to support this community organization. 
The San Francisco Chronicle printed an article by Ruth Rosen, accusing Heavin of supporting militant anti-abortion groups. However, in an open letter to the Chronicle, Heavin challenged Rosen's characterization of his contributions. The Chronicle later published a correction which included a breakdown of the contributions at question. The contributions were given to three groups, Family Practice Center of McLennan County ($3.75 million), McLennan County Collaborative Abstinence Project ($275,000) and Care Net ($1 million.)
Numerous blogs picked up the Rosen's version of the story, and several other articles on the subject subsequently appeared in other mainstream media. 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.
Despite this attempted re-characterization of the donations, business was affected, with memberships down and some franchisees severing their ties with Curves.
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. 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.
Most of the plaintiffs were hired as independent sales reps after Curves had already opened hundreds of locations. The lawsuit failed to mention that the sales reps were paid more than $26 million for their work.
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 apologized for the incident.
Awards and recognition
- 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
- Gary Heavin named Entrepreneur of the Year 2004 - Ernst & Young
- Gold Effy Award - American Marketing Association
- Gary Heavin named 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)
- The Canadian American Business Council recognized Curves International and Mytrak Health System for their collaboration on CurvesSmart.
- Diane Heavin named Texas Businesswoman of the Year 2006 by Women's Chamber of Commerce of Texas.
- Curves voted one of America's healthiest gyms by Health Magazine 2009.
- Gary Heavin Named to Newsweek's "Most Successful Almost Failures" List 2010.
- Diane Heavin Named to Self-Made Magazine "50 Women Entrepreneurs Who Inspire Us" 2010.
- Gary Heavin included in "The 10 Most Brilliant Franchise Founders We're Eternally Grateful For" list 2010.
In popular culture
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!. In The New Adventures of Old Christine, Christine owns a gym extremely similar to Curves - a franchised 30-minute gym for women where a recorded voice tells them to "change stations" every 30 seconds.
- "Fact Sheet" (Press release). Curves International. November 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- "Curves Now 10th Largest Franchise Company in the World" (Press release). Curves International. 2005-12-02. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- Goldman, Stuart Access Denied, Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro, 2007-0301
- "Curves Women’s Health & Fitness Initiative Research Update". Baylor University. Archived from the original on 2005-05-05. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- "Baylor loses Curves research program, relocates to A&M". Baylor University. 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-11-23.
- An extensive list of published papers is available at "Exercise & Sport Nutrition Laboratory - Curves page". 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-11-23.
- "Dr. Richard Kreider Wins National Nutrition Research Award for Curves Studies" (Press release). Curves International.
- "Corporate Impact Awards Recognize Curves’ $1 Million-Plus Annual Gifts to American Cancer Society" (Press release). Curves International.
- "Curves Founders Fly Doctors to Haiti; Collect Relief Donations Through Sales of T-Shirts" (Press release). Curves International.
- "Curves 12th Annual Food Drive Collection Outweighs 680 Hummer H1 Alphas" (Press release). Curves International.
- "Curves Founders Gary and Diane Heavin Go Undercover on ABC's Secret Millionaire" (Press release). Curves International.
- "Komen Gave Planned Parenthood Abortion Businesses Over $700K Last Year". lifenews.com. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
- Kennedy, John W. (January/February 2004). "Rolling with the Curves: Gary Heavin interview". Today's Christian. Archived from the original on 2007-03-17. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- Rosen, Ruth (2004-04-29). "What's Wrong with Curves?". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- "Curves Founders Make Large Charitable Donations–But Not to Radical Prolife Groups" (Press release). Curves International. 2004-04-30. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- "Gary Heavin, founder and CEO of the fitness chain Curves, supports pro-life causes". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2006-08-17.
- "Local Curves seeks distance from founder". Operations Save America. Retrieved 2006-08-17.
- McArdle, Elaine (2005-06-19). "Sweating with the Enemy". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- "Curves for Women Being Sued for More than $20 Million". Associated Press. Retrieved 2006-08-16.
- "Lawsuit brought against Curves and its founder". The Garret*. 2005-03-28. Archived from the original on 2007-01-31. Retrieved 2006-08-17.
- Kufahl, Pamela (2005-05-01). "Suit Filed Against Curves Owner". ClubIndustry.com.
- RTÉ News - Curves apologises for 'inviting' 12-year-olds
- "Curves to Receive Business Achievement Award for CurvesSmart technology" (Press release). Curves International.
- "Women's Chamber of Commerce of Texas Honors Curves Founder as Texas Businesswoman of the Year" (Press release). Curves International.
- "Health Magazine Votes Curves One of America's Healthiest Gyms" (Press release). Curves International.
- "Curves CEO Gary Heavin Named to Newsweek's "Most Successful Almost Failures" List" (Press release). Curves International.
- "Curves Founder Diane Heavin Named to Self-Made Magazines' "50 Women Entrepreneurs Who Inspire Us"" (Press release). Curves International.
- "Curves Founder Gary Heavin Makes "The 10 Most Brilliant Franchise Founders We're Eternally Grateful For" List"" (Press release). Curves International.
- Curves International
- CURVES Val-d'Or,CANADA,QUEBEC
- American Executive Spotlight
- Profile from Franchise Magazine
- Curves news gives women's choices a workout
- Company's Fact Sheet
- Curves Franchise News Aggregated
- Entrepreneur.com, Inc. Franchise 500 2005 Rankings
- Fastest Growing
- Company Background
- ACE Puts Curves to the Test, American Council on Exercise
- Curves The Hague City Centre, the Netherlands