Curves fitness center reborn in new location: Owners hoping to draw former Magnolia crowd

When the Curves franchise at Queen Anne Avenue and Boston Street closed recently, it was a blow to the approximately 300 members of the women-only fitness center.

But five of the patrons decided to do something about the loss. They formed Girls Can Do, LLC, bought the franchise and are set to open a new location in an office complex at 101 Nickerson St., said Claudia Mitchell, one of the new owners.

The former owners of the Queen Anne Curves were all naturopaths, but they decided to get out of the business, said Jennie Donahe, also one of the new owners.

The lease was up, though that was only one of the reasons the previous owners decided to close the business, she said. "The rent was incredibly high," Donahe said of the old location.

On top of everything else, the owner of the property found a new tenant, said Kammie McArthur, another of the new owners. "So we didn't have the option to stay," she said of a development that forced the women to find a new location before they could buy the franchise.

The partners found the location on Nickerson Street, clearing the way for the buy-out. Mitchell declined to reveal the purchase price, though the Curves Web site indicates the cost of a franchise is normally $31,900 to $39,900.

The property owner even subdivided the space for the group by putting in a wall, McArthur said. "Maybe someday, if we get huge, we'll take out the wall."

That might happen. The Curves fitness centers are immensely popular with women, and the company's Web site indicates there are almost 10,000 of the franchises in operation worldwide.

Part of the attraction is the exercise program. Curves members use a series of aerobic and strength-training exercise machines in a circuit that is repeated three times, McArthur said. "It's a 30-minute workout."

Another factor in the popularity of the fitness centers is that they are "no-testosterone zones," explained Pamela Zenger, another of the new owners. "I hate going to the gym when there are guys," she said. "It's intimidating."

Plus, Zenger added, Curves gyms smell better than mixed-sex gyms.

There's also another plus for Curves members, noted Donahe. "The machines are specifically designed for a woman's body," she said. And unlike many health clubs, there are no mirrors in the Curves gyms and wearing Spandex outfits isn't expected, Donahe said. "We just want to work out and go home."

Curves doesn't allow franchises to open just anywhere, explained Mitchell. Instead, towns are divided into territories, and the women's franchise covers the Queen Anne and Belltown area, she said.

"We really want to draw (members) from Magnolia," Mitchell added, noting that a Curves franchise in that neighborhood closed last summer.

The owners of the new Queen Anne franchise also hope to draw members from the hundreds of women who worked out in the old Curves, Donahe said. The new Curves has the same phone number as the old one, and the new owners are staying in touch through mailings and e-mails, she added.

If all goes as expected, the new Curves will be open the first week in February, said Mitchell, who added that there is plenty of parking, unlike at the old location at the top of Queen Anne Hill.

The women-whose husbands are helping out with the remodeling work-are clearly excited about opening their business. "We're trying to make it inspiring, a really nice place, a place people like to go," McArthur said.

Reporter Russ Zabel can be reached at[[In-content Ad]]