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Curves Paris

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ABOVE: The upstairs workout room at Paris Curves.

Getting fit with the French

Upstairs in the workout room, the familiar machines awaited. I loved the airy room--it wasn't a huge space, but it had high ceilings with big windows overlooking the street and the old brick wall of the building next door.

Twelve machines were sitting in the traditional Curves oval, with the spring jogging boards in between. (My local Curves branch in Uptown Minneapolis has 11 machines, so the "Pec Dec" was new to me.) Pounding rhythmic music was playing, and a soft voice was saying the French equivalent of "Change stations now" every 30 seconds.

Half a dozen Frenchwomen were working out when I came upstairs. Like the women at my Curves, they represented a range of ages and body types. They smiled at me. Did anyone make me feel inept or like an interloper? No, not at all. Was it just like my Minneapolis Curves? Pretty much, with one obvious difference: The French aren't like Midwesterners in the U.S. who get up at the crack of dawn. None of this exercising at 6:30 a.m. In Paris, the earliest Curves opening time is 9:30 a.m. (my kind of hours).

In talking with the manager, I learned that Curves Paris had been open only two months. It caters mainly to women in the neighborhood (an area of apartment houses in the 15th arrondissement) and the occasional American traveler like me.

I could easily imagine myself making the trek to rue Mathurin Régnier three times a week if we lived in Paris. Would I be willing to try out other Curves while traveling? I think I would--it's a great way to meet the locals while keeping fit.

Advice for visitors:

To visit Curves Paris (or any Curves away from home), you'll need a "traveling card" from your local branch. Once you get to Paris, call 01 47 34 60 40 to check the opening hours, or e-mail: .

Curves Paris is located at 15 rue Mathurin Régnier in the 15th Arrondissement. The closest Métro stations are Volontaires (line 12) and Pasteur (line 6). If you don't mind walking a little farther, the Gare Montparnasse is about 15 minutes away.

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