A new Curves for Women fitness center opened at the Mililani Town Center on Monday. A week ago one opened at the Kailua Beach Center. Some 35 to 50 of the new women-only centers launch each Monday, according to co-founder Gary Heavin.
Curves' rapid expansion in Hawaii is contributing to the growth of the company and to the decline of many women -- in terms of dress size.
"It's an hour and a half workout in just 30 minutes," said Kailua franchisee Virginia Mann. She also owns the Ewa Beach location, and plans her third and final center in Hilo next year. "When I bought my first one in May they had 1,700; now they have 2,500. They're spreading like wildfire," she said.
In Hawaii the centers can be found in Kapolei, Kunia, Wahiawa, Mapunapuna, Kihei Maui and Kona on the Big Island. In the coming months, Mann said, Curves will spring up in Kaneohe, Manoa and at Waianae Mall. The last will be opened by one of her employees from Ewa Beach.
The company has been ranked among the fastest-growing franchises in the United States by Entrepreneur magazine, but it's also international with locations in Canada, Mexico and Spain.
"There are 11,000 McDonald's in the U.S." said co-founder Heavin. "We have grown to one Curves for every five McDonald's in six years (and) we're a debt-free company."
His overall plan is for 10,000 locations in North America and 10,000 in the world market. Curves, he said, "is an opportunity for women particularly in small towns where opportunities are limited." The majority of franchisees are women, "many of whom have raised their kids," he said.
Some 30 to 40 of those locations could be in Hawaii, according to Curves International Inc. COO Jane Manley. Most of the Hawaii franchisees have purchased more than one location, she said.
The company Web site at www.curvesforwomen.com includes detailed franchise information, starting with the $19,900 cost.
"I attribute this success to the fact that the program works, both for the franchisee who enjoys a significant return on the time and money invested, but also for the member who gets a great value in return for the amount of money they've invested."
Adding to the school of hard knocks biographical information on the Web site, Heavin said he turned 40 in 1995.
It was also the year that -- with the help of his faith and his wife and co-founder, Diane -- Curves began franchising. "Moses started wandering the desert at 40, and I finished wandering the desert at age 40."
Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached