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 1992. As of May 31, 2019, Curves lists 367 franchise locations open in the United States on their Facebook page.
|Founded||Harlingen, Texas (1992)|
|Gary Heavin, CEO|
|Revenue||-$20.4 Million USD (2015)|
|Owner||North Castle Partners (investment)|
In 2012, North Castle Partners, a private equity firm, purchased a controlling stake in the company. The company is privately held by its co-founders and North Castle, with its headquarters located in Waco, Texas and corporate offices located with sister North Castle company Jenny Craig in Carlsbad, California. 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 1999. Curves once claimed to be the world's largest fitness franchise and was recognized as one of the 10 largest franchise companies in the world in 2005. According to Curves International Inc's fact sheet, Curves achieved 6,000 franchises in 7 years. Curves facilities are located in 39 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Curves is known as FitCurves in Ukraine, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Czech Republic.
In October 2006, Curves was said to have had over 10,000 locations worldwide, with 7,848 of those locations in the United States.
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 UniversityEdit
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.
Gary Heavin's charitable contributionsEdit
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 him 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 popular cultureEdit
Curves has been parodied in The Simpsons in the episode "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.
- "North Castle Partners Invests in Curves International" (PDF). North Castle Partners. 2012-09-11.
- "Curves Now 10th Largest Franchise Company in the World" (PDF) (Press release). Curves International. 2005-12-02. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- "Fact Sheet" (PDF) (Press release). Curves International. November 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-26. 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 2005-03-17. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- "Baylor loses Curves research program, relocates to A&M". Baylor University. 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-11-23.
- "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" (PDF) (Press release). Curves International. 2004-04-30. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-05. 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. Archived from the original on 2006-10-12. 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. Archived from the original on 2012-07-31. 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. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2010-08-26.