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HomeNewsArchivesNEW 'LADIES ONLY' FITNESS CENTER IS A BIG HIT

NEW 'LADIES ONLY' FITNESS CENTER IS A BIG HIT

Mar. 21, 2004– Once you walk through the glass doors of Curves, there is no doubt you're in ladies' land. The spacious room is filled with shades of lavender, including lavender lanterns and a deep lavender carpet. And then there's the music. Always music.
Located in Lockhart Gardens, Curves is not your regular gym: no men, no kids, and as one woman remarked happily, "no beautiful people." As for children, there is a sign on the door gently stating the center's philosophy. "We love your children, but this 30 minutes is just for you."
Unlike most gyms where twenty-somethings — or women who look like twenty-somethings — work on their already flat abs under the admiring, testosterone-fueled gazes of equally fit men, Curves atmosphere is a bit more relaxed. To a degree, that is. Once you leave after your 30-minute workout, however, your endorphins are running around having a holiday.
Yvette de Laubanque, who manages the St. Thomas center with partner Vita Pickrum, says, "This is a special 30 minutes just for a woman, herself. It's wonderful for self esteem."
De Laubanque says most women don't really want to exercise with men around. "It can be intimidating," she says. She told of one woman who came to Curves after a local gym manager told her, "Come back after you've lost some weight."
At Curves, everything is friendly and noncompetitive. Well, sort of noncompetitive. After being open for almost two months, a sign on one wall proclaims "Look how much I have lost," with about 70 little sticky notes recording weight, inches and body fat.
Pickrum and her husband first visited St. Croix about eight years ago from their home in Maryland. "I fell in love. I decided right then that I would like to live here one day," she said. And now she has it both ways: She commutes between Maryland and the V.I. In fact, Pickrum first introduced de Laubanque to the Curves concept.
Pickrum had known de Laubanque from seminars on small business development she had presented at the V.I. Woman's Business Center, run then by de Laubanque. Pickrum had little trouble convincing de Laubanque to join her in opening the two Curves franchises, after de Laubanque had decided to leave the Woman's Business Center.
"Vita called me and told me about it, and we went to a Curves training course in Waco,Texas, the company's base," de Laubanque says. "Once I saw the operation, I saw how I could continue to improve women's lives, and I thought it would go over in the V.I." She says countless women have told her of coming across Curves in the states and thought how well one would do in the territory. "I hear that almost every day," she says.
The 30-minute workout combines aerobic exercise with strength training on 10 hydraulic machines. You spend 30 seconds on each machine and then switch to a rubber pad for 30-seconds of aerobic work. The women vary their aerobics widely and sometimes wildly. Some dance twirling the small white towels the center provides above their head, others, looking very serious, simply keep the beat with steady bouncing.
The music ranges from rock and R & B to upbeat gospel and, in the V.I., calypso. It's punctuated every 30 seconds with a directive to "change stations now," which sends the women from machine to aerobic exercises and back to the next machine. It's three times around the circuit, followed by a series of stretching exercises, and you're through and on your way. The center recommends at least three sessions a week.
And everybody seems to love Curves. It's the dynamic energy you feel on entering the room. Women – young and old, slim and obese, with different ethnic and professional or educational backgrounds – come in droves.
There is always an instructor in the center of the circle of machines, keeping the beat and giving instruction for first-timers.
Joyce Kean had the watch on Monday morning. "I have retired, but it's such a fun job, only six hours a day," she says walking off to help somebody on the rather direly named "hip abductor." Each machine works a different muscle group, upper and lower body.
Gyrating aerobically to "Charlie Brown" by the Coasters, a local doctor says the workout is "perfect, so handy. I can leave the hospital, stop at Curves, and go right to my office."
An 81-year-old grandmother is bouncing in rhythm between machines, clad in pink, flowered sweat pants and shirt. "It's the best thing that's come to this island in ages," she says between beats. The petite grandmother of five adds, "and I am losing inches, three already in just a month."
Patricia Harkins-Pierre, a UVI English professor, is on sabbatical, and taking advantage of it. "I started last month, and I've already lost 14 inches," she says. Harkins-Pierre is a regular exerciser and walker, but now it's no more gyms for her. "I've canceled my memberships; now it's just Curves," she says with a grin, doing her own thing on the aerobics pad.
Along with the exercise, Curves next month will offer a diet regimen, which will be optional. Having fun, however, is not. Women come in wearing street clothes, change in the rooms in back, emerge clad in any type of outfit as long as it includes sneakers, and begin the 30-minute circuit. Often old friends reunite.
The following conversation is typical:
— "Oh, I haven't seen you for so long."
— "Isn't this great?"
— "Yeah, no men, no kids."
— "Look what's she doing over there, 'The Mashed Potato.' I haven't done that in years."
De Laubanque says the women's ages run from 18 up. "I think we have an 87-year-old," she says, "and I know there's one who is 80." The weight of the women also vary, including some who weigh in at more than 400 pounds. "They would never go to a regular gym," de Laubanque says. "They feel comfortable here."
Curves is one of the fastest growing franchises in America. According to its Web site, Curves has more than 7,000 centers around the world and has helped more than one million women get fit.
You can add another 360 to that figure — the current enrollment at the St. Thomas facility, which opened in early February. St. Thomas is rapidly catching up to the 550 members on St. Croix, where the partners opened the first franchise last August. De Laubanque says they are now looking for a location on St. John.
For more information about Curves, call 774-4809. The center is open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Curves is closed on Sunday. Weekdays, the facility closes for lunch from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

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Mar. 21, 2004– Once you walk through the glass doors of Curves, there is no doubt you're in ladies' land. The spacious room is filled with shades of lavender, including lavender lanterns and a deep lavender carpet. And then there's the music. Always music.
Located in Lockhart Gardens, Curves is not your regular gym: no men, no kids, and as one woman remarked happily, "no beautiful people." As for children, there is a sign on the door gently stating the center's philosophy. "We love your children, but this 30 minutes is just for you."
Unlike most gyms where twenty-somethings -- or women who look like twenty-somethings -- work on their already flat abs under the admiring, testosterone-fueled gazes of equally fit men, Curves atmosphere is a bit more relaxed. To a degree, that is. Once you leave after your 30-minute workout, however, your endorphins are running around having a holiday.
Yvette de Laubanque, who manages the St. Thomas center with partner Vita Pickrum, says, "This is a special 30 minutes just for a woman, herself. It's wonderful for self esteem."
De Laubanque says most women don't really want to exercise with men around. "It can be intimidating," she says. She told of one woman who came to Curves after a local gym manager told her, "Come back after you've lost some weight."
At Curves, everything is friendly and noncompetitive. Well, sort of noncompetitive. After being open for almost two months, a sign on one wall proclaims "Look how much I have lost," with about 70 little sticky notes recording weight, inches and body fat.
Pickrum and her husband first visited St. Croix about eight years ago from their home in Maryland. "I fell in love. I decided right then that I would like to live here one day," she said. And now she has it both ways: She commutes between Maryland and the V.I. In fact, Pickrum first introduced de Laubanque to the Curves concept.
Pickrum had known de Laubanque from seminars on small business development she had presented at the V.I. Woman's Business Center, run then by de Laubanque. Pickrum had little trouble convincing de Laubanque to join her in opening the two Curves franchises, after de Laubanque had decided to leave the Woman's Business Center.
"Vita called me and told me about it, and we went to a Curves training course in Waco,Texas, the company's base," de Laubanque says. "Once I saw the operation, I saw how I could continue to improve women's lives, and I thought it would go over in the V.I." She says countless women have told her of coming across Curves in the states and thought how well one would do in the territory. "I hear that almost every day," she says.
The 30-minute workout combines aerobic exercise with strength training on 10 hydraulic machines. You spend 30 seconds on each machine and then switch to a rubber pad for 30-seconds of aerobic work. The women vary their aerobics widely and sometimes wildly. Some dance twirling the small white towels the center provides above their head, others, looking very serious, simply keep the beat with steady bouncing.
The music ranges from rock and R & B to upbeat gospel and, in the V.I., calypso. It's punctuated every 30 seconds with a directive to "change stations now," which sends the women from machine to aerobic exercises and back to the next machine. It's three times around the circuit, followed by a series of stretching exercises, and you're through and on your way. The center recommends at least three sessions a week.
And everybody seems to love Curves. It's the dynamic energy you feel on entering the room. Women – young and old, slim and obese, with different ethnic and professional or educational backgrounds – come in droves.
There is always an instructor in the center of the circle of machines, keeping the beat and giving instruction for first-timers.
Joyce Kean had the watch on Monday morning. "I have retired, but it's such a fun job, only six hours a day," she says walking off to help somebody on the rather direly named "hip abductor." Each machine works a different muscle group, upper and lower body.
Gyrating aerobically to "Charlie Brown" by the Coasters, a local doctor says the workout is "perfect, so handy. I can leave the hospital, stop at Curves, and go right to my office."
An 81-year-old grandmother is bouncing in rhythm between machines, clad in pink, flowered sweat pants and shirt. "It's the best thing that's come to this island in ages," she says between beats. The petite grandmother of five adds, "and I am losing inches, three already in just a month."
Patricia Harkins-Pierre, a UVI English professor, is on sabbatical, and taking advantage of it. "I started last month, and I've already lost 14 inches," she says. Harkins-Pierre is a regular exerciser and walker, but now it's no more gyms for her. "I've canceled my memberships; now it's just Curves," she says with a grin, doing her own thing on the aerobics pad.
Along with the exercise, Curves next month will offer a diet regimen, which will be optional. Having fun, however, is not. Women come in wearing street clothes, change in the rooms in back, emerge clad in any type of outfit as long as it includes sneakers, and begin the 30-minute circuit. Often old friends reunite.
The following conversation is typical:
-- "Oh, I haven't seen you for so long."
-- "Isn't this great?"
-- "Yeah, no men, no kids."
-- "Look what's she doing over there, 'The Mashed Potato.' I haven't done that in years."
De Laubanque says the women's ages run from 18 up. "I think we have an 87-year-old," she says, "and I know there's one who is 80." The weight of the women also vary, including some who weigh in at more than 400 pounds. "They would never go to a regular gym," de Laubanque says. "They feel comfortable here."
Curves is one of the fastest growing franchises in America. According to its Web site, Curves has more than 7,000 centers around the world and has helped more than one million women get fit.
You can add another 360 to that figure -- the current enrollment at the St. Thomas facility, which opened in early February. St. Thomas is rapidly catching up to the 550 members on St. Croix, where the partners opened the first franchise last August. De Laubanque says they are now looking for a location on St. John.
For more information about Curves, call 774-4809. The center is open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Curves is closed on Sunday. Weekdays, the facility closes for lunch from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much -- and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice... click here.