Losing their “Curves”
Trigger warning: Discussion of Jillian Michaels and a gym with weight loss culture.
There are many reasons why I don’t go to Curves. One being that I’m not a fan of having to move from one machine to another for exercise. When I find something I like, I stick with it. I had to take a personal fitness course in college and it was just like Curves. You move to different equipment and do a set until you’ve completed 30 minutes. Although there were some things I enjoyed (e.g., exercise bike, treadmill, stairstepper), I was not a fan of lifting weights, or walking on a balance beam, or rowing.
The difference between Curves and my fitness course was that weight loss was not the desired goal. There was more of a focus on getting physical activity, strength and endurance rather than getting thin. While I was self-conscious about working out with other people, since this was a required class, I wasn’t a target of fat shame that I may have been if I were at a gym. Many students just wanted to get the class done and out of the way because they, like myself, didn’t feel an exercise class should be required to be a college student. Other activities, like bowling, walking (which I took), dancing, and swimming were electives. You could move on to one of them after you completed the personal fitness course.
I always held a belief that Curves was not just a place to exercise and be comfortable because it’s for women only. Like most gyms and fitness centers, weight loss and dieting are usually part of it, and many women who go to Curves probably aren’t going there just to get some movement. I had a former coworker who decided to take a job at our local Curves. She thought that they wouldn’t talk to you about weight loss there, but it turns out weight loss and losing inches was all they would talk about there.
Now I can add another reason why I won’t be going into Curves, since my belief about them secretly being pro-weight loss has been confirmed: Jillian Michaels has partnered with Curves to launch “Curves Workouts with Jillian Michaels”. You can read about it here.
Why would Curves, which takes pride in providing a safe space for women who may be intimidated by a coed gym, join with one of the biggest fat-shamers around and an “expert” whose expertise might just be harmful to your health? Well, I suspect having Michaels, the current fitness “it girl,” on board may change their clientele a bit. Instead of a grandma who goes there to strictly move her body and get out of the house, not worrying about whether she drops a dress size, they might just get more younger women with a pro-weight loss mindset. A younger woman may also be more receptive to their “Curves Complete” program, which provides a weight-loss coach and a customizable meal plan [re: diet] along with the standard rotation workout.
I’m not going to boycott Curves or scream at them for teaming up with Jillian. Curves management probably feels this partnership can boost its membership and make it even more well-known than it already is. Money talks. It’s just too bad that out of all the fitness gurus out there, they went with a woman who’s best known for screaming at fat people on The Biggest Loser.
Imagine if they asked Ragen Chastain or Jennifer Portnick (shown below) — fat women who are also very athletic — to help them create a workout routine. There may be those who wouldn’t take them seriously, but I’m sure there would be many other women who would feel a lot more comfortable knowing there was someone who looked like the women you see on the street everyday instead of an oiled up, Photoshopped hard body.