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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Men offered trial run at Carlisle women’s gym

Carlisle's women-only gym is opening its doors to men on an experimental basis.

Curves gym photo
Julia and Jo Clifford outside Curves

Curves is throwing down the gauntlet to sceptical male fitness aficionados by posing the question: “Can you handle a girl’s workout?”.

The gym was founded by sisters Julia and Jo Clifford who opened it in what had been a secondhand-furniture shop in Corporation Road, near the Civic Centre, in October 2007.

Curves is an American concept now franchised worldwide and used by 10 million women.

It is based on 30-minute workouts where participants move from one machine to the next, exercising at high intensity for 30 seconds, with 30-second aerobic recovery spells in between.

There are 12 machines, designed to exercise different muscle groups, and each is automatically adjusted to suit the fitness level of the person using it.

This approach is very much in vogue following research on cyclists, published by the University of Stirling last month, which suggests that high-intensity training leads to a greater improvement in fitness.

This week, Curves also started a ‘boot camp’ programme for female members, a more intensive version of the normal workout.

Julia Clifford said: “It has been proven that the most effective way to train is in bursts of 30 seconds with a recovery period of 30 seconds.

“This is something Curves have been doing for years.

“We challenge any man in Carlisle who is prepared to try a girly workout.

“They will do exactly what the women do, with the same one-to-one tuition and goal-setting.”

Men are invited on Fridays from 5pm to 7pm, starting next Friday, for four weeks as an experiment. This will work on a pay-as-you-go basis at £3 per session.

Women can also attend at these times. Indeed, the Cliffords hope that female members will bring along husbands and boyfriends.

If the trial is a success, the plan is to allow men to use Curves at other times, although the core hours will remain women-only.

Julia Clifford said: “If there’s enough uptake from men, we will open at weekends and earlier in the morning.”

At present, the gym is open from 9am to 1pm, and 4pm to 7pm, Mondays to Fridays.

The membership fee is £29 a month and more than 3,000 women have joined since it opened in 2007. The Cliffords set it up after their mother, then in her 70s and who had been overweight all her life, joined a Curves elsewhere, lost weight and dramatically improved her fitness.

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