May 31, 2016

Four years ago, Sharon DelRossi, 50, weighed 227 pounds. “My hips and back constantly ached,” says the deli manager from Magnolia, N.J. After telling her husband she wanted to start working out, he gave her a membership to a local Curves gym. Although DelRossi had found other gyms intimidating, "I immediately felt comfortable," she says. She liked that other members were women her age and older.

Curves is one of several women-only gyms, designed to make its members feel at ease. Its program centers on a 30-minute strength-training circuit routine in which participants, guided by coaches, move through a series of exercise stations. In a study released in 2005 from the American Council on Exercise, researchers found that the workout challenged the heart and burned an average of 184 calories - the equivalent of a brisk walk. Many women-only gyms also focus on nutrition and weight loss and some offer spa services and childcare.

For DelRossi, the atmosphere made all the difference. "I've become friends with some of the other women at the gym, and we all support each other," she says. If she misses more than a few days, her coach calls to check on her. "This motivation helped me stay on track," she says. In two years, DelRossi shed 110-pounds - and has kept it off for another two years.

As DelRossi learned, finding a fitness center you like is a major key to success, says Brianna Burke, a personal trainer and director of chronic disease prevention at the YMCA of Central Ohio in Columbus. "You're much more likely to stick with exercise if it's something that you enjoy." Here are three women-only gyms that might be a match for you.

Curves (, starting at $35 per month) There are thousands of Curves locations around the globe. Certain centers also offer meal plans and one-on-one coaching, and some have machines that provide instant feedback on your workout and track your progress.

Lady of America (, starting at $36 a month) Available in 11 states, these women-only fitness centers feature personal trainers, gym equipment and group classes. Their "express" locations have a 30-minute circuit.

Lucille Roberts (, starting at $31 per month) With locations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Georgia, this women's gym offers a variety of classes along with standard exercise equipment. -S.L.


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