Inside a quaint English Tudor–style building surrounded by blooming flowers, spa owners Mirka Figueroa and Samuel Figueroa, MD, help beautify clients from head to toe with a slate of treatments. Mirka, a medical aesthetician, enhances skin with dermatological services such as microdermabrasions, photofacials, and peels. Her husband, Dr. Samuel, uses his medical expertise to supervise weight-management programs and erase the hatch marks left by Father Time with injections of Botox and other fillers. To create a one-stop beauty haven, they also enlist an expert staff of hairstylists, nail techs, and makeup artists.
As they enter the training circuit at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. Thirty seconds is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
For Fast Fitness Boot Camp’s Chad Skinner, exercise should feel more like play than work, even during intense physical challenges. Filled with obstacle courses, tug-of-war bouts, and games of catch, his 30-minute boot camps summon the fun of grade-school playgrounds even as they push exercisers toward goals and away from lost weekends with the Cookie Monster. Each session pairs cardio activities such as running and hiking with strength-training drills to melt calories and sculpt muscles. In between solo challenges such as pushups, squats, and jumping jacks, participants build friendships during partner activities that foster teamwork and boost energy levels. Personal-training sessions put exercisers up close and personal with Skinner, who coaches them through custom workouts while dispensing exercise tips, nutrition advice, and an abundance of motivation.