Fitness: Did you hear?.

John Agoglia departs Club Industry, LA Fitness considers selling, NBA coach Phil Jackson to keynote at IHRSA, CarbCounter treadmill, reality TV influences gift-giving, plus more…
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For the week of Dec. 14-20

>> John Agoglia is no longer the editor for Club Industry's magazine, recently renamed and reformatted under his direction to Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro. Club Industry-parent Primedia has been cutting back staff at many of its publications recently. Agoglia's last day was mid-December. Pam Kufahl, formerly senior editor, will assume Agoglia's responsibilities. Agoglia was previously editor at the now-defunct Health & Fitness Business retail publication.

>> Bally Total Fitness Holding Corporation (NYSE: BFT), has named Eric Langshur to the company's board of directors, effective immediately. Langshur is the founder and CEO of TLContact Inc., a privately held company that delivers patient communications and education services to the healthcare industry. Prior to starting TLContact in 2000, he served as president of Bombardier Aerospace CAS, where he lead commercial aerospace service operations for the company that specialized in the design and manufacture of aviation products and services

>> UNITED KINGDOM – LA Fitness is considering selling. Chairman Peter Jacobs recently confirmed that the company is reviewing a number of “serious expressions of interest” for the company. At the end of last year, the board announced that it felt there was likely to be consolidation in the health and fitness sector over the next few years, and it appointed Close Brothers Corporate Finance as financial advisors to seek expressions of interest from a selection of potential investors.

>> Walk on water? Yup, according to Sea Jogger. Imagine an elliptical stuck between pontoons like a boat. That's something like the Sea Jogger, called by inventors a “patented water walking system.” According to a recent press release (and we quote it, really we do, since we wouldn't write like this, we hope you know that): “Addressing the latest trend in fitness and recreation, revolutionary Sea Jogger allows the user to exercise and relax at the same time.” Exercise and relax at the same time? Latest trend? Okey-dokey, then, who would want to put out any effort? Aside from that little PR spin, it looks kinda fun, pedaling along over the water in an upright position. But will someone pay $900 for this? www.seajogger.com

>> NBA Coach Phil Jackson will be a keynote speaker at the IHRSA convention and trade show, March 18, in San Francisco, Calif. Jackson's career includes 13 years as a player in the NBA (primarily playing for the New York Knicks) and five years as a coach in the Continental Basketball Association, before coaching the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships in nine years with the team. Jackson also led the Los Angeles Lakers to the 2000 and 2001 NBA titles, making him the first head coach to win multiple championships with two different teams. As a coach, Jackson has mentored players including Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal. Jackson's presentation will be sponsored by Technogym.

>> Moving Comfort, manufacturer of women's athletic wear, is sponsoring a Women's Beginner Fitness Grant Program with grants ranging from $300 to $1,000. The purpose is to support new or existing grassroots running and walking programs that inspire women to get fit. Applicants must be a non-profit group such as a running or walking club. Applicants will be judged on creativity of proposal, including promotional plans; ability and strategy to work in partnership with local Moving Comfort retailers; organizational experience of club officers or program leaders; number of participants targeted; likelihood of lasting effect on participants; and exposure for Moving Comfort in the local community. Applications must be received no later than March 11, 2005. Grantees will be notified by April 15, 2005. Moving Comfort is a division of Russell Athletic. More information is available at www.movingcomfort.com.

>> Ocean's away! Or is that Ahoy and all aboard? For the sequel to Ocean's Eleven, the Ocean's Twelve cast was kept in shape by an army of Life Fitness equipment in a gym set up on-site. During filming in Amsterdam and Rome earlier this year, Life Fitness Atlantic BV and Life Fitness Italia designed exercise facilities to help the cast maintain their fitness. The Amsterdam facility included a treadmill, Lifecycle exercise bikes, an elliptical cross-trainer, a ParaBody GS4 Gym System and free weights. The Rome gym had treadmills, Lifecycle exercise bikes, elliptical cross-trainers, LeMond Revmaster group cycling bikes, and strength equipment from the premium Signature Series and Hammer Strength lines.

>> In the now-we've-heard-it-all department, here comes what we think may be the first piece of exercise equipment to jump on the Atkins no/low-carb trend, albeit a bit late since the trend is waning. Proform has a “CarbCounter” treadmill that counts carbs burned. Or so it says. SNEWS® View: Why can't the industry just promote sane and realistic measures of fitness?

>> What do you plan to buy your clients or customers for the holiday season? Seems the country is downsizing, based on the American Express Open Small Business Network survey. Forty-one percent of respondents said “cards or calendars,” while nearly a quarter (24 percent) said gift certificates. Twenty-two percent named “unique gifts,” such as stuff sporting the company, while another 20 percent went for fruit or food. Only 12 percent named a donation to a charity.

>> UNITED KINGDOM – England's Department for Culture, Media and Sport has unveiled a half-billion pound (USD $972.5 million) boost for PE and sport in schools in England that is intended to give all children access to at least four hours of it each week by the end of the decade. All pupils in schools in England will be doing a minimum of two hours of PE and sport at school by 2010. Plus, facilities and staffing will be put in place to give young people the chance to take part in two to three hours of sport outside school hours. Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "Sport is not only important for its own sake. It teaches kids how to win and lose and how to be part of a team. It is also important in tackling obesity in young people and can act as an antidote for anti-social behavior by channeling their energies." This new spending means that in the five years up to 2008, investment in PE and school sport, including lottery funding, will total over GBP 1.5 billion (USD $2.9 billion).

>> So you thought people really put their own thought into gifts? Oh ha! According to Jericho Communication's second-annual survey of influences on gift purchases, we find that, indeed, reality TV is the biggest influence on what sells. In addition, Jericho discovered the top five celebrities from whom Americans would most/least likely purchase a product. Most likely: One, John Stewart (last year Queer Eye's Carson Kressley was number one); two, Oprah Winfrey; three, Bill Clinton; four, P.Diddy; and, five, Martha Stewart. (No, really. Could we make this stuff up?) Least likely to buy: One, Donald Trump (last year Bachelorette Trista Rehn was number one, and Trump was number two); two, Dick Cheney; three, Tyrell Owens; four, Theresa Heinz Kerry; and, five, Ashlee Simpson. The survey queried 4,236 people between the ages of 13 and 65 at seven malls across the country (Roosevelt Field Mall in New York, The King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania, the Shops at the Prudential Center in Boston, the Potomac Mills in Washington, D.C., Water Town Place in Chicago, Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles, and The Embarcadero Center in San Francisco) and found a greater emphasis on sexuality, materialism and escapism among heavy viewers of reality TV shows. "Television is the most powerful force in the world, especially on young people,” said Jericho's President Eric Yaverbaum. “When you think about reality TV shows, they all focus on three main factors: greed, sexuality and disloyalty. And they do it under the veil of 'reality,' which makes it more potent. It would be foolish to think there would not be fallout." Oh, one more tidbit from the survey: A higher percentage of women than men (25 percent to 20 percent) said they dress to look athletic.

>> One last word from the specialty retail front: Retailers aren't interested in talking on the phone much, it seems. Why? They're really busy right now. At least one retailer told us he would meet his monthly projection by this week. All this seems to bode well for the season. Happy holidays!

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