The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Gary Heavin

Founder, Curves International - more than 8,000 franchised fitness and weight loss centers for women in the U.S., Canada, and Europe

Curves is now the world's largest fitness franchise and the fastest growing franchise of any kind

Married to Diane

Curves On The Go
(Putnam, 2004)


Gary Heavin: Thirty Minutes to a Trimmer You

By The 700 Club Efficient Fitness

For those who don't know, Curves International is a fitness franchise with more than 8,000 locations in the United States and 10 other countries. Though Gary began in the fitness field at age 20, it was in 1992 when he and Diane perfected the Curves unique approach to weight loss that combines nutritional guidance and an innovative workout that is fun and very effective. "Our goal is to make exercise easy and accessible to all women," Gary says. In just a half hour, members can do resistance training, aerobics, and stretching - the three components essential for fitness, flexibility, and permanent weight loss. "All we ask is that you devote thirty minutes, three times a week to exercise," Gary says. He also says that if someone could do that, and follow the Curves Meal Plan, then that person "will be trim and fit and liberated from constant dieting."

There are three equally important components to a good workout: strength training, aerobics (cardio), and stretching. The Curves program incorporates all three into a 30-minute, three-days-a-week workout. The program shows how to do it smart.

1. Strength training: Strength training is essential to preserve muscle when you are on a weight loss diet. It means you are working your muscles at a greater intensity than they are used to working. Working against resistance that is too light or too easy does not make muscle, and muscle is what you need to develop to shed those excess pounds and keep them off permanently. When you are on a standard weight-loss diet, you can lose as much lean muscle mass as you lose fat! The end result is you may be thinner, but you'll also be a lot flabbier. Losing muscle also means you'll lose the most metabolically active, calorie-burning cells in your body, making it even harder to keep the weight off without starving yourself. Aerobics alone will not do it. Curves fitness program will keep precious muscle and make new muscle. Since muscle is more compact than fat, you will look sleeker and trimmer. Bigger muscles build a smaller body.

2. Aerobics: Aerobics, or cardio, is any exercise that elevates your heart rate to your target or training level and keeps it there for at least 20 minutes. Sustained activity allows your body to access fat stores for energy. Aerobic exercise does not build muscle. It is an important part of an exercise regimen, but it is not the only thing you need to do.

3. Stretching: After your strength training-aerobic workout, your muscles are nicely warmed up and ready for some stretching. Stretching helps to maintain more flexible, fluid joints and increases range of motion. Stretching also enhances the effectiveness of strength training, improves balance, and reduces the risk of back injury. A few minutes of stretching is all it takes to feel great. TIP: When you stretch your muscles, ease gently into the stretch. Hold each stretch for seven seconds and gradually extend a little farther for another seven seconds. Remember not to bob, bounce, or force your stretches, or you could pull a muscle.

Abundantly Blessed

After a difficult childhood, Gary was able to support himself at age 17 by working nights in a pizza shop and attended school/ college during the day. Dropping out at age 20, Gary took over a defunct health club in Houston and learned the fitness business by trial and error. So poor that he had to sleep there at night, Gary knew he had to sell enough memberships, or the lights would be turned off. By 26 he had six fitness centers for women and was making $1 million a year. He was a self-made man and proud of it, and enjoyed all the trappings of success. His chain grew to 17 centers.

By age 30, everything began to fall apart. His wife divorced him and took their two children. He went into bankruptcy and was $5 million in debt with no job. By age 32 Gary was on his knees, surrendering everything to the Lord. He devoured the Bible and watched The 700 Club.

Gary met Diane and eventually they got married. Gary sold fitness equipment on commission and soon became president of the company, making $70,000 a year. His older children soon joined him and Diane. Gary walked into church one day and a woman prophesied to him, "Everything you touch will be blessed." In the early '90s, he read Pat Robertson's Secret Kingdom.

In 1992 Gary and Diane opened the first Curves for Women center in Harlingen, Texas. Curves is the first to offer fitness and weight-loss facilities in the same location. The unique Quickfit exercise machines, dressing rooms, and consulting area only require 1,000 square feet, which allows most locations to be profitable with as few as 100 members.

Later, at a retreat for men, the Lord told Gary that he was going to build a company that would be blessed abundantly. And the Lord has blessed richly. The first year they had 50 locations; in 24 months they had 250 locations; in 36 months they had 750 locations; in 48 months they had 1250 locations. Today there are 8,000.

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