Interview: Lealyn Wiggins, Curves

CurvesThe wildly popular fitness franchise Curves for Women has 16 locations in Brevard County and serves millions of women worldwide in their desire to be fit and healthy.

The Curves location in Suntree is the largest in the county, serving over 1000 women, and was recently recognized as Franchise of the Year in the Southeastern Region at the annual Curves Convention. Lealyn Wiggins and her partner Linda Gaffey purchased the Suntree franchise in January of 2003. Green Brevard recently spoke with Ms. Wiggins and asked her about being a member turned owner and how it relates to providing a better quality of life for our local residents.

How did you get involved with the Curves franchise?
I graduated from college with no clear vision of what I’d be happy doing with my career. I waited tables for a year after I graduated and sort of passively searched for my dream job. My mother called to tell me about Curves one day. She had just become a member and had experienced great results in her health in just a short amount of time. Not only that, she felt that the program had been designed just for her and that it was a fitness program she would stick with long term.

Curves of SuntreeAlthough virtually unheard of at the time, Curves had been ranked 2nd best franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine and was in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest fitness franchise in the world. The Curves founders Gary and Diane Heavin are devout Christians and operated their franchise business based on biblical principles. My family had faith in the company and they had faith in me to carry out the Curves mission, so they told me they would support me financially. So, I went for it.

What makes Curves different from other fitness centers?
How much time do you have? The differences between Curves and other fitness centers are endless. Curves is not a gym. It is a comfortable and safe environment where women can acquire the habit of exercise and have fun doing it. Curves caters to women who until now have been largely ignored by the fitness industry. The Curves workout is designed for someone who isn’t already in shape and probably has a laundry list of reasons why she isn’t in shape.

It’s never intimidating, its fun and a women will never feel like she’s wasting her time. One of our favorite sayings is “No Makeup, No Men, No Mirrors!”

What’s the best part about your job?
When I’m at Curves and I look around the room at the ladies working out, I’m so thankful to be a part of Curves. I see women who would not be exercising if it wasn’t for Curves. I can really say that I’m making a huge impact on these women’s lives. I get hugs and “thank yous” everyday from my members. I feel really purposeful at Curves and that feels wonderful.

What’s the worst part of your job?
As a business owner, it’s hard for me to relax. I’m always thinking that there is something I could be doing to make my business better. I’d like to be as good as Curves founders Gary and Diane, so I have a lot to live up to!

What are some of the fundraising events your franchise has supported since you took ownership?
Oh my, we’ve done a lot. I received over $2,000 in sponsorship from our members for the Walk to Cure Diabetes in 2003. Our Curves alone raised over $6,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

We’ve collected food for Animal Guardians of Brevard, The Sharing Center of Melbourne and Resurrection Ranch in Viera and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our members are so generous with their time and money.

What are some misconceptions people have about Curves?
I really don’t think there are many. Some people might think it’s a fad, but even skeptics admit that what Curves has accomplished is very positive. The results we see in our members should dispel even the staunchest critic.

What role do you see fitness playing in the daily life of a typical American woman?
The truth is, the typical American woman is not fit. There are now 4 million Curves members and 95% of them would have never joined a gym. Curves is teaching women that exercise can be part of their busy lifestyles and is not just for fitness fanatics. I’m excited to see how Curves changes health statistics for women.

My business partner Linda is the perfect example. She is 43 years old with two young children. She couldn’t find the time to exercise even before she had kids. Now she spends thirty minutes a day just three times a week at Curves and she’s lost over 30 pounds and 50 inches.

Tell me bout some of the games and activities you play at Curves, I’ve heard the workouts are fun?
I love to play games at Curves. I realize that most of my members don’t particularly like to exercise and so I like to take their minds off of what they are doing. I ask trivia questions and give away prizes for the right answers. I tell jokes. Anything to make the environment fun and entertaining. We want our center to be a place where women want to be and feel connected to be it through laughter or sharing a common bond with the other members through out public outreach.

For more information on Curves of Suntree call 254-8777 or to find a Curves near you log on to www.curvesinternational.com

Lealyn also wrote an article in this month’s GreenBrevard, Low Carb vs. Low Fat.

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