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Taking Shape

It’s all a part of the atmosphere Marsha Lewis wants to create in the Curves salon she opened up four year ago in Proctorville.

There in the comforting tones of pinks and greens with splashes of wicker is an atmosphere of relaxation, camaraderie and concern for health. The latter is especially significant this month as Lewis joins others in observing breast cancer awareness.

Starting her own business after years as a stay-at-home mom was a venture Lewis didn’t walk into lightly. As she did, she followed a promise to herself.

“I’ll keep going forward with this idea and if nothing stops me, I’ll keep going. And nothing did,” she said.

First she needed a location and the Barboursville, W.Va., woman had a chance to take the exercise salon in a variety of places in the Tri-State. She chose Proctorville.

“I always liked Proctorville and knew a lot of people over here,” she said. “Proctorville is growing. So many people are moving here. There is new construction. When I saw this building vacant, I saw it as a sign.”

It was vacant but it needed a lot of work. Pegboard walls had to be torn down and replaced. Paint was needed everywhere. But after three months the one-time tax office became a Curves salon.

Primarily Curves, which are national franchises, are known as exercise salons where clients can drop in for as long or as little as they choose to work out in feminine surroundings.

However, Lewis sees exercise and overall health and well being as related. That’s why she is out promoting the “Liv Aid” exam tool to help women with their monthly breast self-exams.

About the size of a sandwich baggy and just as pliable, the heart-shaped Liv Aid is filled with a fluid that increases the tactile ability of a woman when she performs the self-exam. The Liv Aid is placed between the hand and the breast and when the fingers move over the encased fluid it magnifies the internal texture of the breast. That will make small lumps more apparent so a woman can get them checked out quicker by her physician.

“It enhances a woman’s sense of touch, there much more sensitivity,” Lewis said. “Curves calls it a ‘magnifying glass for the fingers.’”

Right now, Lewis’ salon is giving away the Liv Aid to any new Curves members and to the first 25 current members who can show proof of having a mammogram in the past year. Others may purchase the product for $5.

However, Lewis’ participation in this has a deeply private motivation. A year ago around Christmas one of the regulars to the Proctorville Curves lost her battle to breast cancer.

“It became personal,” Lewis said.

Her client came to Curves after the diagnosis solely to increase her stamina as she fought the disease.

“She worked out all the time to keep up her strength and energy level,” Lewis said. “She would do whatever she could.”

It’s that sense of community among the Curves clients that has been one of the most rewarding aspects of being a small business owner, Lewis says.

“The unexpected thing that has happened is the camaraderie we feel,” she said. “And it’s not just my relationships. I have seen women develop friendships here.”