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.
Stephanie Babines had to fight to open her pole-fitness studio. The battle pitted her First Amendment rights against zoning regulations, and was featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today when the ACLU took on the lawsuit to get her permit. Stephanie's passion for self-expression has not faded, and today she and her instructors teach dance- and cardio-workout classes six days a week to help ladies of every age and build express themselves and achieve a sense of empowerment.
It's no surprise that Stephanie is serious about her craft. She has trained under the same choreographers who have coached Beyonce, Rihanna, and Britney Spears, and holds certifications in Advanced Pole and Hoopnotica dance. Her studio boasts amenities such as a spa and a dressing room fully stocked with towels and cosmetics. When they aren't twirling from the studio’s five onsite poles, she and her team might be throwing private bachelorette parties or fantasy photo shoots.
“No makeup, no men, and no mirrors.” That was the unofficial motto of Curves’ original Texas location in 1992, and it’s no less true today: at nearly 10,000 clubs worldwide, women attack a 30-minute training circuit designed to burn calories and build strength through cardio and resistance workouts. After each minute on a piece of strength-training equipment—each built for feminine frames and designed to work opposing muscle groups with a single movement—exercisers move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to keep their heart from getting bored and falling asleep.
IM=X Pilates' signature workout, IM=X, which is short for Integrated Movement Xercize, combines strength-training and cardio exercises for a high-energy session profiled in Fitness Magazine, Mademoiselle, and the New York Times. The IM=X schedule of classes includes Pilates floor sessions, which walk students through traditional, body-weight-based Pilates exercises that rely on balance and precise muscle control to build strength and improve three-legged-race times. True to the IM=X formula, instructors amp up the effectiveness of Pilates moves by integrating special equipment such as the IM=X ring and Body Bar. During yoga classes, students follow along with instructors, stabilizing their core and limbs through a series of challenging poses and balance-fortifying transitions to hone focus and muscle tone. Indoor-cycling students swing a leg over spoked steeds for a structured, instructor-led workout where cyclists can forge rock-solid cardiovascular health while tailoring intensity to accommodate their own fitness and cycling experience levels.