Fitness: Did you hear?...

Darryl Thomas and Nicolas Savioz get new assignments in Nautilus' international division, Woodway builds one-of-a-kind treadmill for Timberland, Bodycraft and Wynne International renew agreement, Amer Group's Talermo ready to buy, plus much more...
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>> The Nautilus Group has reassigned management duties for its international division.Darryl Thomas will now oversee the business outside of North America. Thomas, who will remain in the Vancouver, Wash., headquarters, began with Nautilus in January 2004 as senior vice president of strategic planning and project management, but is now senior vice president of strategic planning and international. Thomas will also take over the duties of former international manager Urs Mosimann, who left the company in September. Nicolas Savioz will take over various duties as marketing director for international. Nautilus' international office is in Givisiez, Switzerland.

>> Florida-based Busy Body Gyms to Go has scheduled a grand opening of its 15th store Nov. 12-14. The new store will be in Tampa and will become a marquee store for the chain, says President Carlos Vazquez. Although originally slated to open in late September, complications from the string of hurricanes delayed the event. The new Tampa store is 5,000 square feet, with 1,500 square feet of warehouse space, and will serve as the satellite distribution center for the Tallahassee and Jacksonville areas.

>> Vision Fitness is now selling its equipment to American Home Fitness and Chicago Home Fitness in Illinois and Michigan, rather than to The Fitness Experience. Vision continues to work with The Fitness Experience in Wisconsin and Ohio.

>> Two separate women's-only gyms in Northern California are dealing with state lawsuits alleging sexual discrimination. California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing recently sued in Sonoma County court alleging that Elan Fitness Center in Petaluma violated the state's civil rights law because it failed to provide "full and equal accommodations" for men. The department wants the court to order Elan Fitness to provide equal services and facilities for men. The suit comes after Santa Rosa resident Phillip Kottle told the department he went to Elan's Petaluma fitness club in July 2003 to ask about a $99 membership offer. He was told men could only use the facility one day a week, while women were allowed daily access. Body Central, another women's fitness center in Santa Rosa, also in Sonoma County, has been embroiled in a similar state lawsuit for two years after Kottle filed a sex discrimination complaint to the state. That case is still pending. According to Department of Fair Employment and Housing Chief Council Paul Ramsey, while a women-only gym may be desirable for some people, it is against the law. He also said that complaints against women's gyms for sex discrimination are very rare, well under 1 percent of the department's cases. Although the Unruh Act allows for some financial restitution for the injured parties, in its case against Elan the state is only seeking equal access to the facility for both sexes. Rather than settle with the agency, Elan has opted to bring the case to civil court, with a hearing set for Jan. 24, 2005.

>> John Talley, former vice president of retail sales for Advanced Exercise Equipment before it was sold to Busy Body in August, is now the Life Fitness sales rep for 2nd Wind Exercise and Busy Body Home Fitness. He had moved to a regional director position with Busy Body for three months after the Advanced sale. Based out of his office in Colorado, Talley will now rep the stores he previously managed. The change was effective Nov. 1. He can be reached at John.Talley@lifefitness.com.

>> Woodway has a one-of-a-kind treadmill set up at Timberland's headquarters in Portsmouth, N.H. The treadmill, designed specifically for the new laboratory and testing facility at the outdoor and lifestyle company offices, has belt slats which will be replaceable by Timberland lab stuff. For now, the surface is bumpy, to help the lab evaluate running and hiking on uneven surfaces. It should in the future be outfitted with a slippery surface to emulate icy or snowy ground covering. In addition, the treadmill is set up on a slant -- to better analyze walking and hiking on uneven trails -- and can be tipped and tilted in various directions. It also has a 25-percent incline, but the company choose not to get a decline component, instead just having subjects walk backward on the belt when it's set to run in the reverse direction to emulate up to a 25-percent decline. But, wait, there's more…. The treadmill in the lab is set up in a corner with a ridge dividing it from the rest of the room much like the bumper that divides a shower from the bathroom. Why? Because the motor and treadmill are going to be outfitted with protection so lab staff can create drizzly and wet conditions while still testing running or hiking on the treadmill. Think shower curtain dividing treadmill area from the rest of the lab so it can become a mini-rain chamber.

>> Bodycraft and Wynne International have renewed their agreement to work together. Wynne is Bodycraft's distributor in Canada, and the two partner on U.S. sales. That means Wynne is effectively working as Bodycraft's outside sales force responsible for dealer relationships and sales. "Business is booming," said Bodycraft partner Alan Gore. "I hope it is truly an early start to the busy season and will keep on." SNEWS® View: No, the rumor isn't true that Wynne bought Bodycraft. It's just repping it, so to speak.

>> In a story in the Financial Times of London on Nov. 1, Amer Group CEO Roger Talermo said he is ready to expand the company further, looking to bolster its sporting goods product range. That growth, fueled by acquisition, could happen in the next two year and could help replace the business lost when it left the cigarette business it had been in for years. Still, Talermo told the paper in the story titled "Amer Seeks Out Healthier Pursuits," the company is not "shopping for shopping's sake. However, we have been careful to create a war chest so if needed we can make an argument" for acquisition. Talermo said the company's goal is to increase annual sales at each of its six divisions by Euro 200 million (USD $259 million) over the next few years. With 2003 net sales for the group at Euro 1.1 billion (USD $1.4 billion), that could mean nearly doubling sales. Talermo did point out to the paper that any companies it would consider for acquisition must fit in with Amer's growth model of enhancing its sporting products using high technology since it is betting that sports enthusiasts will embrace technological changes and their benefits to performance. For example, in 1999 for Euro 65 million (about USD $84 million in today's currency conversion) the company acquired Suunto, which makes wrist-top computers and training devices, and is using the division's technology expertise in its other businesses. The whole story is available to Financial Times subscribers or for a fee at www.ft.com.

>> Fitness Gallery of Arizona's conversion from Ch. 11 bankruptcy reorganization to Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Arizona, on Oct. 28. A trustee to oversee the process was to be appointed soon. In addition, a meeting of creditors is scheduled for Dec. 7, 12:30 p.m., at the U.S. Trustee meeting room in Phoenix. The deadline for filing a proof of claim is Jan. 26, 2005. More information is available from the court clerk, 602-682-4000.

>> In the ongoing patent infringement case of Nautilus vs. Icon, the judge approved an amended schedule of pre-trial deadlines. It includes mediation not later than March 18, 2005, and a trial set to begin April 18, 2005.

>> During SGMA International's board of directors meeting earlier this month in Orlando, Fla., Tom Rogge of Cramer Products was elected as chairman and Steve Furniss of Tyr Sport as the vice chairman. Former chairman Dick Kazmaier of SR Industries remains on the board as the immediate past chairman. Greg Hege of Porter Athletic Equipment Company is SGMA's new secretary/treasurer. Current SGMA President and CEO John Riddle was re-elected by the board of directors to his current position. Bill Sherman of Riddell Inc. was elected to an initial term on the board. The following board members have been re-elected: Reebok's Bob Monroe, Eason Sports' Tony Palma, Porter Athletic's Greg Hege, Prince Sports' George Napier, and Vital Apparel Group's Kerry Kligerman.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- Allan Fisher and Mark Turner, co-founders of Holmes Place and LA Fitness respectively, have launched ADDleisure, an investment vehicle to capitalize on new opportunities in the leisure, health and fitness sectors. The executive directors believe the rapid growth in the number of health and fitness facilities over the last five years and the current media and government focus on health present a number of opportunities for investment. ADDleisure has initially raised GBP 1.5 million (USD $2.8 million) to fund initiatives across the sector, and already has a 75 percent holding in Fitbug, the maker of an "intelligent" pedometer that prescribes activity, monitors progress and gives motivating feedback. The product will be primarily marketed to the estimated 90 percent non-gym members via the Internet and retail distribution partners, although Fitbug will also provide additional avenues to work with the fitness club sector. ADDleisure also holds a 28 percent share of Liberation Fitness Systems, owner of the distribution rights in the UK and Ireland of the Power Plate vibration technology products. The company is also looking at the home fitness market, said Fisher: "Since 1998 the in-home fitness equipment market has grown by almost 50 percent and is currently worth GBP $250 million (USD $464 million). Forecasts suggest it will continue to show double-digit growth rates and we believe our experienced team can take advantage of this growth by initially further developing and marketing our existing products, and sourcing future investment opportunities. Both gym and non-gym members need education, instruction, feedback and motivation while fitness operators need tools to understand, engage, and manage their membership base. Importantly, the Internet is now mature enough to play an integral role in enterprises in the health and fitness industry."

>> Kevin Westcott has joined the Health & Fitness Business Expo sales team, replacing Adam O'Brien. Westcott previously worked with Crank Bros., a manufacturer in the bicycle industry, where he managed sales efforts, athlete marketing, customer service and the warranty department. He will handle the eastern North America territory. Also, Chad Battistone, who has been with Health & Fitness Business for three years as a sales associate, was promoted to account executive for Central North America and international accounts. Robert Roman remains as the account executive for western North America.

>> David Campisi has joined The Sports Authority as president of merchandising. Campisi has 26 years of experience and worked with Kohl's, most recently, and Fred Meyer.

>> Adding punch to the magazine world, American Media Inc., owner of the National Enquirer, has teamed up with Sylvester Stallone to create a fitness magazine called Sly. (We guess that's better than naming the thing "Yo, Adrian!") The 58-year-old actor "will be very hands on," said American Media spokesman Stuart Zakim in a statement. "He will be involved with the editorial direction of the magazine." Targeting men ages 35 to 54, the magazine will include service articles such as, "How to swallow six raw eggs at 4 a.m. without throwing up all over the kitchen floor." OK, OK, we made that up, but how about a rib-splitting feature on training in a meat locker titled, "Where's the Beef?" We didn't make that up. Scheduled to hit newsstands in January, the magazine will complement Stallone's reality show, "The Contender," on NBC. Will this one-two media punch help Sly go the distance in the competitive fitness magazine market? Inquiring minds want to know.

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