The number of people who are over 60 years old is now increasing in Japan. Many of them want to maintain their health as long as possible. It has become common knowledge that people should take nutritional supplement or go to a fitness gym to work out once or twice a week to keep healthy. The average age of the gym users seem to rise each year as most users found in many fitness gyms may range between 65 and 70 years old.
Have nothing must to do at home… it is fun to take a bath in a large bathroom at gyms than a tiny bathroom at home… Monthly fee allows the gym members to use the facility as many times as they want. If the fee does not correlate with the visit, it is natural that more and more people find it beneficial to spend their time in gyms three or four times a week.
Compared to the conventional gym practice, Curves has a very unique concept. Have you ever seen or heard of a fitness club, Curves targeting specifically and only at women and providing only 30 minutes of workout in one session? Currently, the company has spread throughout Japan having the gym studio at almost 1700 locations. At first when you hear 30 minutes workout, you may well doubt what can be done in such a short time. You might even think that preliminary stretches may take up the time. But you are wrong. You will realize this actually works just fine if you try.
The gym studio has 12 different workout machine, each of which trains your upper half, lower half, front and back side of the muscle. Also muscle relating to stretching your body and your core muscle. What is unique is that you don’t repeat one action so much to train. The duration of one single action may last only 45 seconds. You check your own pulse once in every 6 minutes and see if it rises. The rise indicates the exercise is effective. You might still wonder if it is effective to exercise in such a short time. However, those in the 60s, 70s or even 90s who could not use the machine at all at first because they did not have enough muscle, will soon realize that they have become capable as they keep up working and get used to the machine. It is also nice that Curves monitors the users’ muscle levels of upper and lower half of body and flexibility of overall once in a couple of months
The founder is Dr. Gary Heavin who lost his mother suddenly by high blood pressure, depression and obesity. He went to a medical school and developed a fitness club based on the kinesiology. At first, only young women gathered against his will. He then learned nutritional science and opened Curves targeting at women in middle-age and older.
In a small room of 36m2 twelve different kinds of machine are lined in a circle so people exercise facing each other. You use each machine one after another. After 45-second exercise, you get off the machine and stamp for another 45 seconds. Then back to the next machine and so on. For people in their ages, if you force too much, you get injured. Curves-style exercise stops just before the point when people feel forced. This is completely opposite from the concept that conventional fitness gyms have. This much of exercise is just enough so you don’t feel tired when you get home. Because it is such a short time, this exercise does not bother your other routine work. Lastly, since you are not forcing yourself, you can keep up doing it long. It is no surprise that this idea came from American not from Japanese to come up with the opposite style from the regular fitness sports gym.
About 40 years ago, I conducted a basic research with my friend, Shizuo Wada how a 15-minute exercise once a week could lose weight. He was the founder of Wada Laboratory that hosts Japan Beauty Contest. He also verified whether each exercise was effective or not by checking pulse. His workout program consisted of 6 or 7 types of exercise for both upper and lower parts of body in one session. What was different from Curves was to exercise along the pitch of your breathing but when you exhaled out completely, you still needed to hold for 5 to 10 more seconds. That was the main key point. When you breathe out during the anaerobic respiration, lactic acid builds up in the muscle where load being applied, which stimulates and generates new muscle. When the fat mass around muscle breaks down, it generates energy. This energy builds new muscle cells. Mr. Wada back then had an inspiration and came up with a diet method of high-protein and low-carbohydrate foods. He was the very first person who conducted this low-carbo-diet, which is now very popular. It was perhaps during 1980s when Dr. Atkins started the low-carbo-diet in America so I am pretty sure Mr. Wada’s finding came to light way earlier. In other words, Mr. Wada came up with this diet idea first than anybody in the world. Mr. Wada and Curves share the common point that short-time workout has been verified effective.
Exercise is surely inevitable in upcoming era of an aging society, but it should also be obtainable reasonably. Chances and places to exercise should be reachable in any neighborhoods. Never force too much to workout. These are very important factors. Curves, meeting those conditions, will surely increase. Women considered to live 10 years longer than men should train their bodies, bones and make it habit to go out several times a week. Increasing the oxygen consumption by exercise and simple but routine workout are the best for preventing dementia and fractures in elderly people. I don’t particularly support any business but Curves is exceptional. I believe Curves is great. Lastly but not the least, staff of Curves call their members by their first names instead of last names. Women who have been called not even by their last names but in impersonal manners such as “ma’am” or “someone’s mom/grandma” for a long time, will feel happy when they were called in a way back in younger days, “Hi, Sachiko-san!” I believe the Curve-manner has a great effect on anti-aging.