Fitness: Did you hear?…

IHRSA reports show attendance numbers, Bally clubs to the rescue in obesity-prone China, report says Californians are getting fat, 21 Minute Convenience Fitness expanding into 'The OC,' plus much more...
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For the week of April 5-11

>> IHRSA released final show numbers from its 24th annual trade show, saying more than 7,600 attendees from 61 countries attended. For a detailed report on the trade show, check out our SNEWS® story on March 31, 2005, "IHRSA show '05: Jammed and jamming hall and booths."

>> With 23 percent of its population deemed overweight, China's expanding bellies are the perfect candidate for Bally's expanding empire. Bally (NYSE: BFT) is opening four new franchised facilities, making the company the largest fitness chain in China with 16 franchised locations. The newest relationships have been developed through a long-standing joint venture with China Sport Industry. Each fitness center will offer consumers approximately 35,000 square feet of state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, plus group exercise classes. Between 1992 and 2002, the overall obesity rate in China has increased by 97 percent (!) and more than 60 million people in the country have been labeled obese. Health officials blame diets too high in fat and a decrease in physical exercise. The new franchised facilities will be located in: The Asian Games Village in Beijing North, Sunny 100 within Beijing CBD, Changsha in the Hunan Province in Changsha City and Guangzhou Olympic Garden in the Guangzhou Panya District. Bally will now have eight franchised fitness centers in Beijing and a total of 16 franchised clubs in China.

>> Despite being the land of fruits, nuts, fitness freaks and Arnold, California is getting fat. A $30,000 report conducted by Chenoweth & Associates for the California Department of Health Services estimates that overweight and inactive Californians cost $21.7 billion a year in medical bills, injuries and lost productivity. The study noted that a decade of overeating and sitting in front of the TV has given California "one of the fastest rates of increase in adult obesity of any state in the nation," and there is no sign that the rise is slowing. Nearly 53 percent of Californians over 25 are overweight, and more than 17 percent are obese, or extremely overweight, the study found. The rates among Hispanics, blacks and adults with less than a high school education are even higher and exceed 60 percent, said the study. The report also estimates that obesity costs California $11.2 billion annually in lost productivity, $10.2 billion in medical care and $388 million in workers' compensation. The majority of those costs were shouldered by public and private employers in the form of health insurance and lost productivity, said the study, which analyzed medical claims data.

>> The April 2005 issue of FitnessRX magazine features Cybex's Arc Trainer and Total Body Arc Trainer in an article by Bryn Peterson called "Cardio Burn: Cybex Total Body Arc Trainer Boosts the Curve on Cardio." You can check out the magazine's website at www.fitnessrxmag.com, but to read the article, you need to pick up a magazine at your local newsstand.

>> Bally Total Fitness is looking to hold what could be the biggest membership drive by slapping nearly 3 million 30-day trial memberships on General Mills cereal boxes. Specially marked boxes of Total Raisin Bran, Total Corn Flakes and Total Brown Sugar & Oats will be available at most major retailers this spring, and consumers will have until June of 2006 to redeem the coupon at any Bally Total Fitness location nationwide. General Mills said the key to health is driven by diet plus exercise and this gives consumers the opportunity to capitalize on both fronts. SNEWS® View: If all those coupons get redeemed, there may just be an uprising among current members!

>> 21 Minute Convenience Fitness, a fitness studio headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., has awarded a four-unit area development franchise in Orange County, Calif. The first Southern California studio will open in July, with the remaining ones opening within 24 months. The studios will be owned and operated by a member of the original Walnut Creek studio and his partners who live in Orange County. The 21 Minute Convenience Fitness said its program offers the ultimate in "convenience" fitness, with guaranteed results. Members perform a short, total body workout once or twice a week in street clothes, supervised by a certified coach every time. www.21minutefitness.com

>> According to a survey released by the American Public Health Association (APHA), Americans over 55 are well aware that proven steps to better health include regular exercise, as well as proper diet, reducing stress and a positive attitude. But the study found that many older adults report a number of barriers -- including lack of motivation (51 percent) and resources to take action (46 percent) -- in their lives that prevent them from taking the necessary steps to improve their health. The study also found that half of older adults believe they have a healthy lifestyle, while half recognize they need to work to improve their health. Members of the oldest segment of Americans -- 75 and older -- are more likely than their younger counterparts to say they have a healthy lifestyle (67 percent for those aged 75+ compared to 38 percent for those 55 to 64 years old). Nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) believe diet and exercise more than genetics (18 percent) decide how healthy they will be as they age. APHA encourages seniors and their families to assess their current health status, identify risks and create a plan for maintaining optimum health and conducted the study in conjunction with National Public Health Week 2005.

>> IHRSA's board of directors approved a revised resolution on third-party accreditation of personal training certification programs, adopting two major revisions. The first applies to the effective implementation date, and the second applies to approved accrediting agencies. The resolution now states that: "IHRSA recommends that, beginning Jan. 1, 2006, member clubs hire personal trainers holding at least one certification from an organization/agency that has begun third-party accreditation of its certification procedures and protocols from an independent, experienced, and nationally recognized accrediting body." The revision allows each certifying agency more time because all that is required is that they have begun third-party accreditation of its certifying procedures. With regards to approved accrediting agencies, the resolution now says: "IHRSA will recognize other, equivalent accrediting organizations contingent upon their status as an established accreditation body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and/or the United States Department of Education for the purposes of providing independent, third-party accreditation," thus broadening the ways in which a certifying agency can be accredited.

>> A recent NFI Research study found that over the next 12 months, senior executives and managers plan to travel domestically slightly more than during the past 12 months. Only 1 percent do not plan to travel domestically in the next year. International travel should also be up slightly from the past year, with close to half of the senior executives and managers planning to internationally travel at least once. Senior executives plan to domestically travel more than managers do in the next year. Forty-nine percent of senior executives plan to travel domestically 11 times or more in the next year, while 27 percent of managers plan to do so. Of those who plan to travel more in the next 12 months, the leading reason -- cited by 70 percent -- is business growth/new business, followed by the importance of face-to-face meetings. The leading reason for a senior executive or manager who plans on traveling less in the next 12 months is cost, while concern for personal safety was not listed as a reason for less travel.

>> For the second consecutive year, Life Fitness received two Fitness Management magazine Nova7 Supplier Awards. The company again was named Best Cardio Equipment Supplier for its Life Fitness brand and Best Strength Equipment Supplier for its Life Fitness and Hammer Strength brands. The only double award-winner this year, Life Fitness also was the only supplier that won multiple awards in last year's Nova7 Supplier Awards program.

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