ABC’s Secret Millioniare: Gary and Diane Heavin


You may not recognize the names Gary and Diane Heavin, but you are probably familiar with Curves International, Inc., the company they founded. Curves is the largest fitness franchise in the world and Gary and Diane are considered express fitness innovators. The first Curves was opened in 1992 and since then, more than four million women across the globe have exercised at a Curves location.

The Heavins found success with the first club they opened in Harlingen, Texas. They opened a second successful club and then began taking an untapped market by storm. The couple knew they needed assistance to help the millions of women who wanted to exercise in a comfortable and supportive environment. So, they franchised the business. In 1995, the first independently owned and operated facility opened in Paris, Texas. The concept was hugely popular and franchises quickly popped up all over the country.

Curves became the fastest growing franchise business in history. The Heavins even found success writing a book about their company, which became a New York Times bestseller. This gave them the confidence to take Curves international. Today, there are almost 10,000 Curves clubs operating in more than 70 countries. Among its many accolades, Curves has been called the number one fitness franchise.

This couple is not selfish with their profits. They are considered two of the largest philanthropists in the Central Texas area. They fund female health education and healthcare, adoption services, prevention of family abuse, and much more. Curves Food Drive is an annual corporate giving event that raised more than 11 million pounds of food in 2006. The Curves Charity Match program encourages franchise owners to participate in local corporate giving.

In 2011, the Heavins were featured on Secret Millionaire, the breakout ABC television show. They spent six days in the Third Ward of Houston, an area stricken by poverty, living in a one-bedroom apartment and surviving on only $6.50 per day. Their search for community members in need led them to donate $100,000 to the Lazarus House wellness center, $60,000 to No More Victims organization, and $250,000 to the Sean Ashley House for autistic children.

The Heavins remember the feeling of being unsure of whether a paycheck would come. They also recognize the importance of volunteering. They continue to take a personal approach with their giving, doing things like flying a plane filled with doctors and supplies to Haiti and participating in home builds for Habitat for Humanity.

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