Faith, Biblical Principles Guide Best-Selling Fitness Entrepreneur

by | Oct 31, 2003 | Charisma Archive

Gary Heavin, author of the best-selling book Curves, bases his business philosophy on Christian values
Although the Bible says the body is God’s temple, keeping it trim and healthy confounds many people. Americans spend almost $50 billion every year on fitness centers, diet plans and weight-loss treatments.

Unfortunately, the upward spiral toward obesity has continued despite the money and time invested in these endeavors. Enter Gary Heavin, a Waco, Texas-based entrepreneur who has developed a health and fitness program that offers women a fast-paced, low-cost and effective game plan to fight the battle of the bulge. What’s more, the founder of Curves International bases his business philosophy on biblical principles and recognizes God’s hand in his success.

“Christian radio, Christian television and most importantly reading the Bible turned my life around,” said Heavin (pronounced Haven), who attends Highland Baptist Church in Waco. Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson’s book Secret Kingdom “helped from a business perspective because I realized there are biblical values such as integrity and the laws of use, service, unity and miracles that are applicable to running a corporation.”

More than 5,000 Curves fitness centers currently operate in all 50 states and seven foreign countries, serving 2 million women. Nearly 200 new franchises, which average about 1,200 square feet, open each month. Entrepreneur magazine ranks the company as the fastest-growing franchise operation in the world.

The no-frills, compact establishments target women over 30 with their low-cost, 30-minute workouts. Utilizing eight to 12 hydraulic-resistance weight machines that Heavin designed and specially sized for women’s smaller frames, exercisers spend only 30 seconds on each station and keep their heart rates up by walking or jogging in place before moving to the next one. The strength-training equipment incorporates squats as well as leg, shoulder and abdominal presses, and addresses all the major muscle groups without the hassle of stacked weights.

“I’ve enjoyed great success with my franchise,” said Trish Tavernier-Finken, who opened her Curves center in Toledo, Ohio, in April. “I already have 40 to 50 regular customers, and several of them have lost over 20 pounds.”

Success did not arrive easily for Heavin, however. The 48-year-old businessman suffered a traumatic childhood, enduring the double blows of his parents’ divorce and subsequent death of his mother when he was 13. But her tragic demise from a stroke served as the catalyst that brought the health and nutritional counselor to the Christian faith.

“At that moment, I was at the bottom of everything and couldn’t survive without clinging to Christ,” Heavin said. “I reached out and was saved actually kneeling at her deathbed.”

Struggles continued as a teen, however, and Heavin bounced around several colleges before taking over a failing health club in Houston. Although tight finances forced him to sleep in the center’s nursery, he made the operation profitable within a year.

By age 26, the entrepreneur had expanded to six locations and produced a million-dollar income statement. Four years later, Heavin owned 14 fitness centers, had written his first book and developed a revolutionary method to raise metabolism.

But overexpansion forced the operation into bankruptcy, leaving Heavin jobless and $5 million in debt. Divorce and the loss of his two children compounded the problem and forced the former business superstar to turn toward God for guidance.

“I was wandering in the desert as a Christian,” Heavin said. “But in order to be teachable, you have to suffer sufficiently. I suffered through the loss of my wife and children, the business, and my reputation.

“At age 30, I found myself on my knees telling God: ‘OK, I did it my way all these years and look at the mess I’ve made. Now, You’re going to get the rest of my life.'”

After reconciling with God, Heavin remarried and regained custody of the two children from his previous marriage. Putting his faith in action, the fitness leader opened the first Curves franchise in 1995. From that humble beginning, the last eight years have seen unprecedented growth.

Heavin’s book Curves: Permanent Results Without Permanent Dieting recently debuted on the New York Times best-seller list. Despite his company’s rapid expansion, he remains centered in his Christian faith and credits God with keeping his life in perspective.

“I stayed focused on biblical laws that made me much smarter than I am,” Heavin said. “God has a better plan for your life than you or I do. We are made for His pleasure and purpose, and the only true joy is to find it.”
John Hillman


Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


Charisma Highlights: Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Charisma Highlights: Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Following are snippets of the top stories posted on over the past week. We encourage you to visit the links to read the stories in full. Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven? Is it possible that behind the pearly gates of heaven there are...

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your family This Thanksgiving

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your family This Thanksgiving

This month we are entering a season which, in the United States, has been devoted to gratitude and thanksgiving for 400 years! While the Thanksgiving holiday has had a long and varied history within the United States, the practice of devoting sacrificial offerings,...

Don’t Let Ungratefulness Turn You Into a Spoiled American

Don’t Let Ungratefulness Turn You Into a Spoiled American

My frequent trips to developing nations always help me adjust my attitude. Just when I start to feel spoiled and entitled, I meet people from places like Congo, India and Honduras—and I realize just how blessed I am. This happened to me again last week during a trip...

The Power of Being Thankful

The Power of Being Thankful

One of the best ways to show God we love Him is to be thankful. When we express our deep gratitude to Him, it actually invites His presence onto our lives. Being thankful also neutralizes the enemy and brings victory into our situations no matter what the outcome....

Get Off Your Pew!

Get Off Your Pew!

As God’s clock inches closer to the final hour before His return, many people find themselves filled with angst, anxiety and despair. People are not sleeping well, many have fallen into depression and are feeling hopeless. These are the very days that we have been...

The Great Commission Can Set Us Free from Responsibility

The Great Commission Can Set Us Free from Responsibility

Read Time: 4 Minutes 28 Seconds While all of the stories we read in the Torah are meaningful, sometimes the events we read about can seem to hold more relevance, especially for those of us who are followers of Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah. One such event is the calling...


The Church’s Role in Preserving Freedom of Speech in America

Read Time: 3 Minutes 17 Seconds The controversy surrounding Kyrie Irving and his post of a tweet that claims the Jews in Israel are not the real Jews—that Black Africans are the real Jews—raises...
Count Your Blessings, For God Indeed is Good

Count Your Blessings, For God Indeed is Good

Read Time: 4 Minutes 42 Seconds Thanksgiving Day is just a few days away for U.S. Americans. It is a favorite holiday—perhaps only exceeded by Christmas—to gather with family and friends to watch parades, play (American) “football” and eat delicious food—often from...

Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven? Read Time: 3 Minutes, 10 Seconds Is it possible that behind the pearly gates of heaven there are murderers, pedophiles and cannibals walking along the streets of gold? We are taught in the book of Romans, "That if...

Pin It on Pinterest