By Valerie Baldowski
Barbara Barnes and Laurel Schaeffer lost a combined total of 190 pounds working out at a Stockbridge gym. The ladies said what kept them motivated was a small monitoring device mounted on each piece of exercise equipment they used.
Barnes and Schaeffer are among the regulars at the women's-only gym, Curves of Stockbridge, located at 4518 North Henry Blvd.
The device they used, a "CurvesSmart Personal Coaching System," is a personal training monitor, which provides minute-by-minute feedback on the intensity and effectiveness of an exercise routine.
A monitor is attached to each piece of equipment in the gym's 30-minute workout circuit, programmed with each client's fitness information to provide personal feedback, during each phase of the workout, said Cherie Satterley, gym manager.
The system automatically adjusts to each individual's endurance level to ensure the client stays continually challenged, and achieves her full potential on each machine, said Satterley. The gym received the monitors in 2008, she said.
Recently, Barnes and Schaeffer were among the gym members moving rapidly from one piece of equipment to the next. They stretched, kicked, lifted and flexed to high-energy music, until being instructed to move to the next exercise.
Barnes, a Stockbridge resident, has been coming to the gym since June 2003. She lost 122 pounds, with the help of the instant feedback she received from the monitors, she said. Although she said she is only required to come three days a week, she comes in daily.
"I like it because you don't get stuck on one piece of equipment," she said. "You don't have to wait for the machinery. You automatically go around [the circuit]. It's virtually easy. It's not like at a gym where you have to stand there and [say] 'Come on, let's get through with the machines,'" she said.
Barnes said she weighed more than 300 pounds before beginning a regular exercise routine. "I think my highest weight before I started Curves was 310," she said.
The success she achieved through the monitors, and with the other programs Curves offers, changed her life, she said. "They have weight programs here; they're always working with you and encouraging you," she said.
Schaeffer, a Rex resident, began coming to Curves in February 2004.
She said she works out at Curves three to five days a week, and has lost 68 pounds. "Exercise is important. If you diet and don't exercise, you don't gain the tone you need," she said.
Schaeffer said the results she achieved from the monitors were encouraging. "It turned my life around," she said. "This was a very unhappy person. I was withdrawn within myself, [with] no confidence at all, [I] lost it all completely. When you lose weight, and you can get into clothes that make you feel good and look good, it changes your outlook on life."
The readouts on each device, added Schaeffer, ensure that she puts forth her best efforts. "If you're not doing your best, it yells at you in color. The lights flash," she said.
Gym Manager Cherie Satterley, who also uses the exercise equipment fitted with the monitors, attested to the effectiveness of the devices.
"I've lost, over the years at Curves, about 50 pounds," she said. "I gained some back when I was away ... for a short period of time. I came back to work for Curves in July 2009. Since I've been back, I dropped an additional 30 pounds, from that time."
Satterley said she initially began working for another Curves gym, in Mansfield, Ga., in 2003. She said the personal training monitors provide extra motivation for the members to continue their exercise routine. How much weight they lose depends on their fitness level, eating habits, and how hard they push themselves on the equipment, she added.