BENNINGTON — When Renee Vanderwerken finished her 30 minute workout at Curves on Friday morning, she leapt from the computer in complete shock when she revealed the results of a successful session.
"I can't believe it! I got all green! That's good right?!" She exclaimed. "This thing is my competitor!"
Curves, an all women's gym on 748 Main St., serves about a small number of 100 members, but is having a large impact on them.
Owners Kathy Whitman and Doris Cottrell took ownership in 2013 after Judy Brownell fell to poor health. Since then, the owners want the community to know that Curves is the town's best hidden secret.
"It's about getting and keeping people healthy," Cottrell said.
The facility is unlike any other fitness center because it's based around 30 minute circuit training courses. Instead of trainers, Curves has coaches who guide members during their circuit workout. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday's, members can come in to perform a circuit.
"I've learned a lot about myself, and that's what's important," Vanderwerken said. "I don't want to see yellow. I'm getting stronger even when I don't have the energy."
Workout results are displayed by colors in which green is good and the best you can get, yellow means there's room for improvement, and red reflects a not-so-good session.
Vanderwerken, a three month old Curves member, is a farmer in Shaftsbury and does not prefer a large gym atmosphere. She struggled with atrophy in her foot and a tibial plateau fracture in her leg which lead to being on crutches. She teaches horse riding lessons and one of her clients suggested Curves. In just three weeks, Vanderwerken was able to get off crutches and strengthen her leg and foot.
"I'm an outdoor person I like to ride bikes, train with people. This is a huge experience to go into an indoor place and exercise with people," she said. "Now three months later I feel normal again. It's a way of sustaining my life and health in regards to fitness and balance, especially after an injury you lose your balance. It's also bettered my spirits going into a group with other ladies."
There are 10 machines that sync to member's keys, or Curves Smart, which is linked to daily progress and resistance patterns. In between each machine sits a mat used for cardiovascular training that varies from day-to-day. Participants circle the machines twice during a single session, for a recommended three times per week. During the workout, a television screen in the upper left corner of the facility guides members through the strength and cardio exercises with a virtual trainer.
Workouts change each day and include a boxing class, dance and tone class, arms, core and legs class, body balance class, stretch and strength class, arms plus, core plus and a legs plus class.
Despite the stigma, the owners of Curves want women to know that there is no specific age range required to become a member. They range from 30-years-old to 80-years old, Whitman said.
"It's not about losing weight, it's about keeping them moving and getting stronger," She added.
Coach Linda Wood is retired and was a member for four years before she moved onto guiding other members part time.
"It's all women so you're not intimidated," Vanderwerken said. "It makes an awesome social gathering."
When a woman signs up at Curves, she is automatically enrolled in Curves Complete, a personalized weight loss and management program with customizable meal plans and one-on-one coaching. During the initial assessment, the woman sets goals and gets body fat, BMI and body weight measured, then it's all reassessed once a month. Whitman said when a member gets too comfortable with the circuit, their resistance levels will be altered and will change on a machine when their key is inserted. She also said that not every machine needs to be used, depending on if one has a weakness, because "it's about staying agile."
"Some ladies also walk outside or swim at the rec center," Cottrell said.
Currently the fitness center is hosting a food drive that runs until the end of March and to those who bring a non-perishable food item can join Curves with a $0 enrollment fee.
The only other Curves facility still running is located in Brattleboro after the ones in Arlington and Williamstown, Mass. closed.
A two day open house will be held on April 11 and 12. The establishment will also be present during the Community College of Vermont's Bennington wellness fair on April 8.
Silver Sneakers and Ladies First are also partners of Curves, providing a free, discounted or reimbursed membership to those who qualify.
"If I hadn't been there this winter, I would have gained 10 or 15 more pounds," Vanderwerken said. "I have never joined a gym in my life. It doesn't matter how old or how much of a fitness guru you are. It's about having all kinds of women from all different backgrounds and regions and wanting to keep themselves active and sustaining their lives. To me, to see all that when I go down there is very uplifting and it keeps me coming back.
For more information, visit Curves.com and to stay up-to-date on the happenings, find Curves of Bennington on Facebook.