Curves fights roadblock
Women running gym as co-op struggled to find
June 1, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The women of Curves say they have a good thing going.
They like the 30-minute circuit workout at their fitness center at Fifth and Yampa streets. They like the company of their friends. They like exercising without mirrors or men.
They thought it all might be over.
The fitness center must be out of the building in a month. The women who run it have been scrambling to find a new location within their means. They think they’ve got it: The women were hoping to finalize a lease Friday for suite 211 in 100 Park Place on Park Avenue.
About 25 women took over the Curves on May 1 from owner Melissa Palmer, who no longer wanted to operate the gym. The women now run it as a co-op, volunteering their time to work and clean.
“It’s amazing how we’ve all come together, and we sort of each use our gifts, however we can,” said member Paula Ford, who is leading the effort to keep it open. “It’s amazing how everybody’s helping out to try to save the Curves.”
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Curves moved to Fifth and Yampa in November from Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center, where the rent was going to double from $2,000 a month to $4,000 a month, Ford said. They pay $900 a month for their current space but have only a month-to-month lease, she said.
Developer Jim Cook of Colorado Group Realty bought the building, and he plans to make it part of his River Walk project. Ford and her friends went hunting for a space of about 1,000 square feet that costs less than $2,000 a month in rent. The Park Avenue spot is expected to cost them about $1,300 a month, Ford said.
“It was the only one within our price range,” she said. “The rest of them were too expensive. I called, I’d say, over 10.”
The women had found a possible location in western Steamboat Springs, but the owner wanted $2,000 a month for space at the back of a building. The women declined. They have looked at other options.
“We tried to sell it to this man, and he didn’t want it,” Ford said. “We came home and were devastated.”
Ford was rushing to finish the Park Avenue deal Friday. She heads to Kentucky next weekend for 10 weeks. If the new location comes through, she wants to be open there by Monday.
“Everybody is excited,” Ford said. “We want a permanent place. We want to be able to stay there and get the membership back up. This moving around stuff is not great.”
The women at Curves are close friends, though membership has dropped from more than 200 last year to less than 80, Ford said. Members pay $39 a month. The workout sends women through stations, which they switch every 30 seconds.
Curves, which has been in Steamboat about seven years, is the only one in Routt County. There is a location in Craig.
The Curves Web site bills the company as the largest fitness franchise in the world, with 10,000 locations in 60 countries.
Members say Curves provides a comfortable, women-only environment.
“Men can be intimidating,” member Alice Freschi said as she worked the exercise circuit last week. “This way, we don’t have to worry about what we wear. We can just be ourselves.”
Carol Jean started working out at Curves last month. She is an artist, so the fitness center gives her an opportunity to socialize.
“I feel that here’s the opportunity to find balance in my life,” Jean said. “I finally found something that fits.”
The women were worried about the future. Small businesses often can’t afford Steamboat costs, Ford said.
“It all comes back to rents in this town,” she said. “Landlords have to realize there’s a point where people can’t make it.”
Cook said that he is concerned about small businesses as a landlord and a board member of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs. He said the Curves lease ran out Wednesday. The women have 30 days to vacate “at roughly half of what the rent was originally in the Curves lease,” Cook said.
The women said it has been tough to operate in the real estate arena.
“Generally, it’s a man’s world out there, and men are the developers, and men are the ones who run the businesses,” Ford said. “It just seems a little harder as a woman trying to get these things done.”
But they were determined to find a way to keep Curves going for the women, who come in from all over the world and all walks of life, Ford said.
“It’s great camaraderie,” she said. It’s a village of women – it really is – and we hate to lose that.”
– To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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