If phone messages are any indication, many New Year's resolutions include plans to shape up.
At least that is an early indication at Curves for Women, a new fitness business that is opening Jan. 15 on Washington Street in a west Brainerd strip mall located across the four-lane highway from Walgreens. Kelly Carlson, co-owner of the franchise expansion into Brainerd, had about 47 messages on the business answering machine when she came into work last week.
Carlson and her mother, Mary Gilbert, own the Brainerd operation. Carlson, a former kindergarten teacher, said they were glad to get into the Brainerd market. Curves for Women is a privately owned franchise with individual businesses opening throughout Minnesota.
The workout center markets itself as a quick way to get results by spending 30 minutes going through a 16-piece circuit of machines and squares called aerobic recovery stations.
Kelly Carlson, co-owner of the Curves for Women franchise in Brainerd, checked out one of the strength training machines that recently arrived at the workout center. Carlson purchased the business with her mother, Mary Gilbert.
Carlson said the workout center fills a gap for women who are not comfortable working out with men or in front of mirrors where they may feel in competition with already fit women in the latest leotard.
"Here you can just roll out of bed and it won't matter," Carlson said. "No one is judging you. And it's working."
Exercisers spend 35 seconds at each station, either a machine targeted at working specific muscle groups or a recovery square where individuals can march, jog in place or just tap. A tape keeps track of the time and the pace keeps the heart pumping. The speed of the session combines aerobics, or a system of physical conditioning designed to improve respiration and circulation, with the strength training aimed at increasing muscle and reducing fat.
The 30-minute workout includes scheduled intervals to check heart rates and a wall chart helps exercisers check their rate against a recommended range.
Carlson and Gilbert opened a Curves 30-minute fitness and weight loss facility in Sartell five months ago. They now have 300 members. The Curves franchise originated six years ago in Waco, Texas. Carlson said the idea behind the exercise centers is to bring fitness opportunities to smaller cities.
"We have relatives up here and we knew the area," Carlson said, adding the city was a perfect size. Looking at the market, they said there were no women only workout centers in the area. "We knew Brainerd was ripe."
The idea is to use workout equipment operated with hydraulics that Carlson said provides resistance for beginners, as well as experienced circuit trainers by matching pressure applied.
"Most people start to notice toning in the first month," Carlson said, adding recommendations are for a workout schedule of three days per week. Curves members can use centers at any location in the U.S., Canada or Europe.
In Brainerd, the center can accommodate 16 people at one time. But Carlson expects there will be so many varying times that no one will be waiting for any length of time. She said other centers found peak use times to range from 4-6 p.m. with the longest waits about five minutes. The workout center has a small warm-up area, two dressing rooms and a bathroom next to the circuit of machines. Membership cost is $29 per month, which can be automatically deducted from checking accounts.
For the first week, Curves for Women will be open from 9 a.m. to noon and from 4-7 p.m. Carlson said she expects those hours will expand quickly into morning and afternoon offerings. For example, the center in Hutchinson is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and has about 500 members.
"The founder wanted to bring fitness to small-town America," Carlson said. "Not that it's so small here anymore." While dedicated women are losing inches, the franchise is growing. Carlson said there were 1,700 Curves locations as of November with 800 more that were to open in December alone.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.