North American fitness chain Curves opens first branch in Abu Dhabi

Curves prides itself in delivering a modern females-only circuit gym offering 30-minute workouts – albeit with a “tough love” approach.

A new gym is helping women in the UAE get into shape, Texan style.

The North American chain Curves, which has 6,000 branches in 88 countries, has just opened its first branch in the UAE, off Baynuna Street in Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen.

Curves prides itself in delivering a modern females-only circuit gym offering 30-minute workouts – albeit with a “tough love” approach.

While most gyms make a big effort to foster their own fitness families and provide incentives for members to attend, Curves goes a step further. Those who don’t attend regularly get a phone call and are asked to explain the reason for their absence.

“For sure, we contact our members to check up on them and to make sure that they come, so they get the result they want,” says the gym’s Canadian-Lebanese manager, Rania Blaibel.

Before joining Curves, I was told that there is a minimum commitment of four 30-minute sessions a week. I wondered whether I would be able to find the time in my hectic schedule.

“If I was only coming twice a week, you would call me up?” I ask Blaibel.

“Of course,” she says. “I would call you and say, ‘You promised me you want to come four times a week to reach your target. I will make sure that you will come’.”

Getting too much exercise is also discouraged – the 30-minute workouts are limited to one a day.

“This is based on a lot of research,” says Blaibel.

The Curves motto is ‘No men, no make-up and no mirrors’ – and I love the idea of not having to stare at my own sweaty face turning scarlet while I work out.

Before I’m allowed into Curves’ purple circuit room, I’m have a consultation, forcing me to confess my late-night chocolate binges and think about what has prevented me from losing weight in the past.

I tell Blaibel about my nagging fear that everyone else is much fitter, more flexible and more experienced than I am.

“Curves is a great place to start then,” she says. “We understand that women feel insecure going to a normal gym where there are lots of shaped bodies.”

Next, she brings out a fat-loss monitor machine.

“Now here’s the fun part,” she says, as she inputs my vital statistics to work out my overall body fat – and I get to find out just what a bad idea those chocolate binges really were, which does not feel much like fun.

To my surprise, though, I do enjoy the workout that follows. The 12 fitness machines, which are specially designed for women’s bodies, feel comfortable. To increase resistance you push or pull harder, rather than adjusting complicated weights. Between each machine there are cardio matts for prescribed activities. You are allowed 30 seconds on each before being alerted to move to the next, and two coaches are on hand to advise.

The fast pace means the half-hour passes quickly. The next day, my muscles feel the strain – but not achingly so.

Blaibel explains that the cost of joining Curves varies. On social media, some ladies who were quoted Dh4,500 for annual membership were put off by the price.

“Its not more expensive than any other gym in the UAE,” says Blaibel.

Although the fitness community in the UAE is thriving, there is also a big market for women – like me – who need a comfortable setting and a gentle nudge to get moving.

I often find an excuse not to hit the gym but I suspect the fear of getting a call from Blaibel would push me to stick to my fitness goals – if I dare to sign up.

For more details, call Curves Gym on 02 634 4040 or go to

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