There are no locker rooms, no fancy treadmills or dumbbells-not even a mirror. Yet Curves, the storefront women's-only fitness chain that promises a full workout in 30 minutes, is changing the face of health clubs. With the success of the four-mill ion-member-strong franchise, it's
no surprise that traditional gyms like 24 Hour Fitness and Lucille Roberts have opened their own satellite express gyms. In fact, of the 10,000 express facilities in the United States defined as clubs that are smaller than 5,000 square feet with fewer than 300 members almost a
quarter come from traditional gyms following Curves' lead. This year, 24 Hour Fitness took the trend a step further by bringing a 30-minute workout to its full-size gyms.
Town Sports International (owner of New York. Washington, Philadelphia and Boston Sports Clubs) followed suit, and more are expected. "If traditional gyms don't offer these circuits, they could lose time-starved members," says Pam Kufahl, editor of Club Indus-try's Fitness Business Pro, a trade publication.
A quick workout is only part of the success story of Curves, which increases membership rosters at record-breaking speed by tapping into a previously undiscovered market-sedentary women over age 35. Gentler hydraulic strength-training machines cater to this group, but what cinches the deal is that this "un-gym" offers a refuge from the flash and Lycra-clad buff bodies in most health clubs. '1 don't need men looking at me while 1 sweat," says Melissa Yobolin, age 29, who says the all- women aspect is motivating. "It's like a sisterhood. Everyone is extremely supportive."