Fitness: Did you hear?...

Spirit Fitness runs into phone problems, H&F Biz online show registration open, Yoga Journal to publish Russian version, UK launches fitness program for seniors, plus much more...
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For the week of April 19-25

>> Rumors passed quickly on Thursday afternoon, April 21, and Friday, April 22, when the phones at Spirit Fitness either just rang and rang with no answer whatsoever or were answered with an odd quick busy signal. On the heels of the full buy-out by Dyaco of Taiwan (see SNEWS® story, April 7), words started flying about whether Spirit had shut down! No such thing, Spirit reassured us, just phone troubles. The company is moving its plant, but the phone lines went down April 21 without warning. As the phone company hurried to get the area problem fixed, Spirit staff quickly scrambled to fax or email customers. "We're here!" said Woody Fisher, national sales manager, fielding calls on his cell phone.

>> Best wishes for a quick recovery go to Mike Cochrane, formerly of Bodyguard, who is still recovering from a February ski accident that left him with seven screws and a plate in one leg. An out-of-control teen-age snowboader took him out on a double-black-diamond run "on a glorious day," as Cochrane told SNEWS® (although we suppose he now means a FORMERLY glorious day). Broke his tibia in two places and sheared his patella off his knee. Can we saw OUCH?!?!? "Mudda-f^%$'n kid. Anyway accidents happen, I guess. I had about 50 ski days in by that time," Cochrane wrote in an email. He finally was told to try to start walking again earlier this month. He's still trying. A lot of time on his back has left him surfing like crazy all over the web and thinking about his next career move. Which may be soon. "Sucks," Cochrane said in summary of his injury and ongoing rehab. We agree. Send your good wishes to him at execk2@aol.com.

>> If you want to avoid lines and save money, online registration is now open for the Health & Fitness Business Expo and Conference at http://www.healthandfitnessbiz.com. Scheduled for Aug. 25-27, the fitness-centric show will feature the latest innovations from over 175 top brands in the strength, cardio, yoga and Pilates equipment categories at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colo. Seminar highlights include keynote speaker Harry Friedman of The Friedman Group (presented by Vision Fitness), and a GearTrends® Fitness Forum moderated by GearTrends that is designed to educate the industry on the challenges and opportunities facing the market and called "What have you done for me lately?" Also, attendees can network at special events such as the annual Industry Party at the Wynkoop Brewery (sponsored by SportsArt Fitness), and the GearTrends Happy Hour. Retailers, buyers and media can receive show badges and information in the mail by registering before July 15.

>> In the still unfinished Ch. 7 liquidation bankruptcy case of Arizona's Fitness Gallery, an auction of the company's name has been rescheduled again. It is now set for May 17, continued from April 15 and originally set for March 4. The auction is now set to be held at Lane & Nach, P.C., 2025 North Third St., Suite 157, Phoenix, AZ at 10 a.m.

>> Yoga Journal magazine is expanding its audience way across the pond with plans to publish a Russian-language edition -- the first of several foreign language editions it plans. Yoga Journal will work with Independent Media Publishing House (IMPH), the largest magazine publisher in Russia, to publish the magazine in Russian where yoga has become a health phenomenon in the last five years. The premier issue will be published in May, with a print run of 20,000 copies. The Russian edition will contain 70 percent content from the U.S. edition of Yoga Journal, 30 percent local content, and will initially be published four times a year. IMPH, based in Moscow, is the Russian publisher of Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, Harpers' Bazaar, Esquire and Good Housekeeping. Other foreign editions will launch in Italy and Brazil later this year. Yoga Journal LLC (www.yogajournal.com) is based in San Francisco, Calif.

>> Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. has signed on as presenting sponsor of the 2005 Life Time Fitness Triathlon. The triathlon, scheduled for July 16 through Minneapolis and St. Paul, offers a combined cash and prize purse valued at $500,000 -- reportedly the largest in the sport.

>> Foot Locker donated 82,500 pairs of athletic footwear to Save the Children, a leading independent organization creating real and lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Foot Locker is providing 68,500 pairs of athletic footwear to the Save the Children relief effort in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and 14,000 pairs of athletic footwear to needy children who participate in Save the Children's US Programs. The program serves the neediest children in 13 states in rural America with literacy and physical health and nutrition programming.

>> This yoga mat will allow you to be truly serene while doing yoga since once you're ready to oust the mat, you'll know it'll decompose in a landfill.Hugger-Mugger's new Earth Elements Mat, which was three years in the making, is made from a newly developed natural foam and contains no latex, PVC or rubber, and uses no toxic materials in its production. Its cells are set to decompose after a period of time under the heat and pressure of a landfill, leaving only water and biodegradable elements. It comes in 3 mm and 5 mm thicknesses and its closed cell construction prevents the absorption of fluids, making it easy to keep clean. Hugger Mugger also plans a recycle program for worn mats that are now degradable.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- An online fitness program has been launched in the United Kingdom aimed at those over 50 to delay physical declines with age and inactivity. Partly because of figures from the Social Trends report from the Office for National Statistics that show only 32 percent of men and 21 percent of women aged 55 to 64 take the recommended minimum of 30 minutes exercise most days, the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management enlisted the services of a personal trainer to design the Fit for Life program. "Many of us are still looking for guidance about the right type of exercise to do. This program gives people a starting point, incorporating a variety of activities, so people can choose something they enjoy and take part in when it suits them," said chief executive of the ISRM, Ralph Riley.

>> SportsArt Fitness will become a major cardiovascular equipment supplier for the New York-based club chain, Lucille Roberts Health Clubs. The three-year agreement is said to be worth in excess of $1.1 million. The equipment will also be used for the newly launched franchise concept, Lucille Roberts Fitness Express. Products will include SportsArt Fitness 6310 treadmills, E8300 elliptical machines and C5150 recumbent bicycles.

>> Luckily, the number of obviously false weight-loss claims in TV, radio, and print advertisements for dietary supplements, topical creams, and diet patches looks to have dropped from almost 50 percent in 2001 to 15 percent in 2004, according to a recent Federal Trade Commission staff report. Industry sources estimate that consumers spend billions of dollars each year on products and services that purport to promote weight loss, but many of these products do not deliver what they promise, the report said.

>> As SNEWS® previously reported, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is offering a fitness center credit of up to $20 per month for fully insured Medicare supplement members who exercise at least eight days a month at participating fitness centers. It's now released a list of clubs that the credit can be used at, including Anytime Fitness, participating Curves, Flagship Athletic Club, Gold's Gym, Life Time Fitness, Northwest Athletic Club, Snap Fitness, YMCA, and independently owned clubs throughout the state that belong to the Minnesota Independent Health Club Association.

>> In an attempt to lower health care costs and give back to employees, apparel retailer Chico's offered its 700 employees the chance to enroll in a three-month exercise program at Fitness On The Move Lifestyle Centers. Chico's paid for employee participation and offered a cash incentive for the top five employees who had the greatest percentage change in body composition. Nearly half of its employees signed up and after three months, the group had lost more than 540 pounds. The first place winner lost 44 pounds with an average loss of 7 pounds per person. Fitness On The Move also awarded one-year memberships to the top five winners.

>> Ah, technology… created to make our life easier but sometimes our bodies just can't keep up. Case in point: Those handy little BlackBerry devices for email and other tech tasks are allegedly causing users to experience pain in their thumbs, fingers and wrists, according to a Washington Post article. Orthopedists say they are seeing an increasing number of patients with these symptoms, a condition known as "overuse syndrome" or now dubbed "BlackBerry thumb." BlackBerry subscribers now total 2.51 million, more than double the 1.07 million subscribers a year ago. Some other handheld devices, such as PalmOne Inc.'s Treo and T-Mobile Inc.'s Sidekick phones, use similar thumb-operated keyboards. The small keyboards are tough on hands and wrists, according to Paige Kurtz of the American Society of Hand Therapists. The society issued a consumer alert in January saying that handheld electronics, including cell phones when used for text messaging, are causing an increasing amount of carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis, the Washington Post reported. With that warning, the society included directions on how to properly hold the devices, urging users to take breaks and, if possible, place pillows in their laps so their wrists are in a more upright position. To read the entire Washington Post article, click here.

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