Fitness: Did you hear?...

Richard Shaffer leaving Vectra for Technogym, Roland Murray to depart Cybex, Nautilus' Rod Rice retiring, UK researchers question whether obesity is an epidemic, 24 Hour Fitness creating fitness facilities for winter games in Italy, and much more...
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For the week of Feb. 22-28

>> Richard Shaffer, sales manager at Vectra, will be moving over to Technogym's U.S. offices as of March 1. There, he will move assume the position of area sales manager for the Northwest, moving into the club side of the business and away from the retail sales he managed at Vectra. Shaffer tells SNEWS® it was tough to depart Vectra and leave its fine retail products but that he nevertheless always admired the energy at Technogym's booth at the European FIBO show. "I am still incredulous that this opportunity presented itself and I have been able to seize it," he said. "I'm very excited." Shaffer will be at the Technogym gym booth at the IHRSA show, March 17-19, in San Francisco. Drop in and say hello.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- Have you been using the word "epidemic" in connection with "obesity?" An independent research company in the United Kingdom claims that statements of obesity being an epidemic are "speculation." The United Kingdom's Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) claims the scale of childhood obesity has been exaggerated and is not supported by evidence. In its recent report, Obesity and the Facts, the SIRC has called for a major re-think about the reporting of obesity in both adults and children. It added that official survey data does not bear out the rapid acceleration of obesity in children in the '90s. The SIRC analyzed data from the Health Survey for England 2003 and looked at children’s average weights. “We can conclude … that there have been no significant changes in the average weights of children over nearly a decade," SIRC wrote in a report. "This can be taken as evidence that there has been no epidemic of weight gain, since an epidemic would certainly have affected average weights.” The company added, "The Health Survey for England provides grounds for a serious re-think.”

>> Another fitness industry departure: Roland Murray, who has worked with Cybex and Trotter for 19 years and is currently Cybex's vice president of sales and marketing, will leave the company and the industry as of March 11. He said he will "pursue other career interests," which he later told SNEWS® would be as a vice president of sales with a Dallas-based Brunswick company that deals with billiards/air hockey/foosball. "Along the way in the fitness industry I have made many friends and will carry them with me," Murray said in an email statement. "I leave behind a great company and wonderful people here at Cybex. Once I am settled in my new career with my new employer, I will be in touch with my contact information and would enjoy hearing from you." Meanwhile, contacts at Cybex after March 11 will be Heather Corbitt (HCorbitt@cybexintl.com, 774-324-8210) or Cathy Corcoran (CCorcoran@cybexintl.com, 774-324-8209).

>> An innovative product introduced at the Health & Fitness Business Show in Denver last August, Wergout Fitback, continues to pick up steam. Retailer LA Gym will begin carrying it by mid-March, Wergout president Bruce Deziel told SNEWS®. The Wergout is a sculpted seat pad/accessory designed to support and safeguard someone's back and neck. Additionally, Deziel said that several doctors have volunteered to endorse the product and adds that an infomercial is not out of the question. SNEWS® View: It's great to see a new product whose ideas have never before been seen find success.

>> UNITED KINGDOM – The Fitness Industry Association in England is holding discussions with the government's Citizen's Advice Bureau, which recently issued a warning to the public to beware of unscrupulous sales tactics used by some gyms to get people to sign up for membership, according to an FIA report. “In many cases the terms of the gym membership – including how to cancel – are detailed in very small print, which customers rarely read and the sales staff fail to explain when signing up new members,” the organization said in a statement. The FIA has contacted the CAB and plans further meetings to determine the nature of its evidence and to discuss the FIA’s Code of Practice. That code states that all members have to ensure that customers are made aware when they join the leisure facility that their membership is on given standard terms and conditions.

>> Coming up in late March is the American College of Sport Medicine's Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition. Slated for March 29 to April 1 in Las Vegas, the event is geared more toward personal trainers and instructors looking for education in sports medicine, nutrition, and workout areas. Life Fitness is a premier sponsor – and the only equipment-oriented sponsor – with other sponsors including Spri and Gatorade. More at www.acsm.org/meetings/summit.htm.

>> GERMANY – The Munich, Germany, sporting goods trade show ispo doesn't shut down before and after its two runs in winter and summer. A program called "ispo on tour" is sponsored by several exhibitors and literally tours to retailers and cities around the country all year, brining to them topics and products to help train retail staff in day-long seminars. The coming season of tours, which will hit numerous cities including the likes of Cologne and Frankfurt, includes sponsorship and participation by Horizon Fitness, as well as Sigma Sport (heart rate monitors), Reebok (shoes and clothes) and sport apparel companies. A promotional brochure to reach out to retailers is actually more than promo, but also includes a short "dictionary" of terminology such as aerobic and CoolMax, and short bulleted lists of "sales arguments." www.ispo-on-tour.com for more.

>> Its upcoming move to Washington, D.C., makes sense as SGMA shared its public policy agenda for 2005 with a variety of issues on the docket. First, it'll work for continued funding for the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) program and urg its members to participate in the SGMA Congressional PEP Rally in Washington, D.C., on May 4. Another priority for the sporting goods industry is tort reform, which has new life as a result of President Bush's strong commitment to address the issue. SGMA also said the upcoming legislative year likely will be active on the international trade front, with significant potential impact on the sporting goods industry. Free trade agreements for the Central American region (CAFTA) and Thailand could be proposed and debated. SGMA added that it's working on several opportunities to include a pro-sports/pro-fitness position on a range of overarching health and wellness proposals expected to be introduced in the 109th Congress. It is also rallying for continued funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is the nation's primary funding program for local parks, trails, ball fields, courts and playgrounds. "From a legislative perspective, SGMA has to be as aggressive as ever," said SGMA Chairman Tom Rogge. "If we want national leaders to understand our needs, we have to take the time to educate them about the importance of quality physical education and the need to reform the irrational tort system facing our manufacturers."

>> Life Time Fitness announced that its 2005 Life Time Fitness Triathlon is scheduled to take place on July 16 in Minneapolis/St. Paul with the largest cash purse in the history of the sport -- $500,000. The event includes divisions for professionals and amateurs. The Life Time Fitness Triathlon is a part of the Minneapolis Aquatennial, a 10-day, 66-year-old premier Twin Cities civic celebration that hosts more than 800,000 visitors annually. For info, check out www.ltftriathlon.com.

>> 24 Hour Fitness is assisting Olympians preparing for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, by creating fitness facilities for the U.S. Olympic Team onsite. Olympians will be able to use the facility in the weeks leading up to the Olympic Games as well as during event. It's also sponsoring four Olympic hopefuls: World Cup Alpine ski winner Daron Rahlves, Grand Prix Cup holder Jeremy Bloom in freestyle skiing, two-time U.S. snowboarding champion Gretchen Bleiler, and Jennifer Rodriguez, World Sprint Speed Skating Champion. The athletes will be featured in the company's advertising, publications, marketing and promotional materials, as well as provide personal appearances.

>> "For Love or Money?" sounds like a new reality TV series or maybe a soap opera, but it's really a New Balance ad campaign targeting 25 to 49 year olds. Launching in March, the ad campaign targets the two motivations for participating in sports -- love or money -- and will be featured in TV, print, radio and online advertising to reach performance athletes. Emphasizing the essence of New Balance's core beliefs and values, the company said the campaign also offers a counterpoint to what everyone else in the industry is doing and looks to stimulate national dialogue on the motivations and values in sports today. For example, the "Cross-Country" spot showcases true love of the sport of running and pure motivation by emphasizing the "rewards" of amateur athletic competition and highlighting the brand's heritage in performance running. New Balance said it is the first national campaign that fully integrates its premium performance footwear and apparel as well as our licensed products such as socks, headwear, bags and sunglasses.

>> Nautilus has promoted William D. "Bill" Meadowcroft to chief financial officer effective March 31, succeeding Rod Rice who is retiring after 11 years with the company. Meadowcroft joined Nautilus in 2000 and has served as the company's principal accounting officer, treasurer and corporate controller. He has 20 years of accounting and finance experience working with Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young and American Automobile Association.

>> It used to be when you went to the doctor you heard, "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning." Now you could get a prescription that says, "Workout on a treadmill three times a week," as primary care physicians are trying to get their overweight patients moving and losing weight. ABC News' website reported on the trend, saying: "Doctors have found that when they write down specific instructions for exercise on a prescription pad, just like with any other important medication, it is a more powerful message than simply discussing it." For the full article, click here.

>> In a preview of NSGA's "The Sporting Goods Market in 2005" report coming out this spring, it said sporting goods stores have increased their unit sales of athletic footwear in the $20 to $39 (up from 33.1 percent to 34.3 percent) and $40 to $59 (up from 28.3 percent to 32.6 percent) price points over the past five years. But the report also said sales have slipped in the $60-plus price point, from 34.3 percent to 28.6 percent. Over the same five years, specialty athletic footwear stores have increased their unit sales in the $60-plus price point, from 46.8 percent to 48.6 percent. Their sales have declined modestly in the $20 to $39 (down from 19.6 percent to 19.1 percent) and $40 to $59 (down from 31.5 percent to 30.9 percent) price points. In their strongest price points ($20 to $39 and $40 to $59), sporting goods stores face growing competition from other channels of distribution. Overall, he average price of athletic footwear rose 1.1 percent to $39.32 in 2004 from $38.88 in 2003. In sporting goods stores, the average price rose 1.4 percent to $47.02 and 2.1 percent in specialty athletic footwear stores, to $59.02. Family footwear stores showed the strongest gain, up 10.6 percent to $37.16, a $3.47 rise from 2003. The 78-page report is prepared for NSGA by Irwin Broh & Associates and available at www.nsga.org.

>> Club owners are moving away from boxy-roomed facilities with plain white walls to state-of-the-art design to accentuate their high-tech equipment and motivate users. Ditching the big-box feel, clubs are thinking about the layout of their facilities, playing up colors and adding windows. According to one designer in an article in the Triangle Business Journal, colors and lighting are being used to help direct people and set the tone in certain areas. A new 70,000-square-foot Impact Athletics fitness center is using vivid shades of purple, green and orange to help set an active tone. It also has large windows, white panels and red brick interspersed with lighter accents. The article also talked about steps other facilities, like Gold's Gym and YMCA, are taking to improve their looks. Check out article by clicking here.

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