Fitness: Did you hear?...

Taiwan Sports Manufacturers Association offers look at fitness equipment trends, Nautilus promotes new tagline, bureaucrats run for fun in Capital Challenge, Amer sells tobacco property, plus much more...
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For the week of May 10-16

>> If you want an interesting look into Taiwan, go to www.sports.org.tw/e/reports.asp, which is on the website of the Taiwan Sports Manufacturers Association. There you find a list of reports. From the group's 2005 yearbook is one called, "Indoor Fitness Equipment Analysis and Development." In that, you'll read about what trends are seen from another perspective, with illustrations of equipment we may or may not know. Also on the page is an older report titled, "Fitness equipment makers expect strong growth in 2004." Take a look to read forecasts by several Taiwan-based manufacturers for LAST year. Always fun to read these "forecasts" after the time is past.

>> Relatively new at Nautilus -- or at least the broader use of it -- is a tagline that we like: "Changing the game in health and fitness." We're told it's more of a positioning statement. Says company spokesman Ron Arp, "To us, it means the way we used to do things most likely isn't the way we need to do things to be successful in the future."

>> With names like Women of Mass Distraction, Robe Runners and Agony of DeFeet, who would have thought bureaucrats could have such a sense of humor and a penchant for fitness, let alone time to indulge them both? The annual three-mile ACLI Capital Challenge in Washington, D.C.'s, Anacostia Park this month drew numerous members from the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, as well as the media who cover them. Main sponsor ACLI -- the American Council of Life Insurers which represents 400 life insurance companies in the United States -- noted: "The event shows even the busiest people can take time out to stay physically fit." Must be -- Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) competed for the 24th straight time and has never missed a race (his team placed second among the senators). Among the winners were: Jim Ansberry of Team Ryun -- first overall male (with an outstanding sub-5-minute-mile time of 15:13), Laura Turner of House Clerk's Office -- first overall female with a 16:35 for a per-mile pace of about 5:20), Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) of The Battle Born Runners -- first place male senator, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) of The Kay Team -- first place female senator, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) of Gordon's Mercenary highlanders -- first place male representative, and Rep. Shelly Capito of Capito & Her Cruisers -- first place female representative. These are not wannabe joggers, some of these folks. If they can do …. Well, you know what we mean…. All entry fees were donated to D.C. Special Olympics, with an additional contribution to the District of Columbia Special Olympics by the event sponsors. Check out www.capitalchallenge.com if you want to see how fast your legislator or favorite bureaucrat is.

>> FINLAND -- Amer has sold its Amer Tobacco Ltd.'s factory property and agreed on the sale of the related company housing in Hyrylä. The properties will be sold to two separate Finnish real estate investors. The transaction price totals euro 7 million (USD $8.8 million), with the capital gains on the sale amounting to approximately euro 6 million (USD $7.6 million) before tax. Amer exited its longtime tobacco business in 2004 and is focusing its attention on its sports brands, including Precor and newly acquired Salomon.

>> GERMANY -- Preparations are underway for the ispo summer 05 trade show in Munich, Germany, from July 3-5 in eight trade fair halls featuring 1,200 exhibitors. A highlight of the show is Nordic Fitness, which ispo said will create a bridge between the running and outdoor segments. Among the exhibitors will be adidas, Asics, Buff, Camelbak, Columbia/Sorel, Concurve, Deproc, Ecco, Exel, Fischer, Fizan, FRWD, Garmin, Gore, Halti, Hi-Tec, Icebug, K2, Karhu, Komperdell, Leki, Löffler, Lowa, Maier Sports, Medico, Meindl, MGM Fila Skates, One Way, Polar, Reebok, Regatta, Roces, Rollerblade, Salomon, Sporteye, Suunto, Swix, TSL, Viking and Ziener. Among the event's lineup are the Nordic Fitness Summit, the Nordic Fitness Congress, and pro skiers Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther demonstrating Nordic walking techniques. Among the topics highlighted at the show will also be yoga/wellness. For more information about the trade show, visit www.ispo.com.

>> Everlast Worldwide earned the second and third spot for all product placement on major network TV shows reported by the Nielsen Product Placement Rankings for the period of January to April 2005. Everlast received a combined total of 2,134 occurrences during the time mainly a result of its involvement with "The Contender," NBC's reality-based boxing series and other network TV placements. There were 1,164 occurrences for Everlast apparel on 19 telecasts and 970 occurrences for Everlast sporting equipment on 25 telecasts (this compares with 2,186 occurrences on 99 telecasts for the leader Coca-Cola Classic).

>> DENMARK -- In early May, Fitness dk and Fin Form have merged into Denmark's largest chain of "fitness and wellbeing centers" in the country with more than 50,000 members. Known as Fitness dk, the new entity is in the process of getting listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange to create a company that gives members "ownership" and attract active investors who can contribute to the development of the chain. The company's owners include Hans-Henrik Palm (who will also be chairman of the board), Leif Christensen (who will be a managing director along with Rasmus Ingerslev), key employees and external investors. The new chain employs 1,200 people. For more, go to www.fitnessdk.dk.

>> It's seems like only in Manhattan could you see a billboard and custom design a pair of shoes. Nike has installed a build-your-own-shoe media placement on the 23-story-high Reuters sign on the Reuters Building in Times Square as part of its NikeID campaign. Passersby with a cell phone (and who doesn't have one in New York?) can call a toll-free number and use the dial pad to choose aspects of the sneaker they want and build it in real time on the sign. After picking colors for the laces, swoosh, uppers and mid-sole of the sport shoe and then customizing it with initials or other personal tags, the consumer is sent an SMS message with a picture of the personalized shoe and the web address (www.nyc.nikeid.com) where it can be purchased. The technology is available daily between noon and 1 p.m., and 3-5 p.m. Reuters estimates that 1.5 million people see the sign every day. Now, that's power.

>> Then on the opposite coast, only in Southern California could you bike across the state without ever leaving your start point. The Precious Cheese Ride Across California will allow visitors at the V Sculpture Area in Venice Beach, Calif., to step up to one of 50 mountain bikes and cruisers on Avenir Trainers to collectively pedal the 900-plus miles covering the length of the state. Not just a cheesy promotion for its recently introduced Precious Stringsters reduced fat string cheese, the event will also raise awareness about the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The May 22 event will feature free activities to promote the importance of nutritious snacking to an active lifestyle and a Healthy Living Zone with health and nutrition experts providing information.

>> CHINA -- World Gym International is investing in 15 new sports clubs in the Republic of China with Asia World Gym Co. The company said it picked Asia World has its partner because it shared the vision and resources to develop the World Gym brand as the premier fitness brand in Asia. The first two clubs are slated to open by November in Beijing. The group is already operating a mega club in Seoul, South Korea, and has acquired an additional 50,000-square-foot facility for its second World Gym sports complex.

>> For the second consecutive year, Cardio Theater was given the top entertainment supplier award in the Nova7 "people's choice" awards program sponsored by Fitness Management magazine. Cardio Theater has been owned by Precor since 2004 which has invested in production resources and product quality since the purchase.

>> Are you shorting yourself on vacation? You aren't alone. A recent survey from NFI Research found that many managers who are entitled to three weeks or more of vacation time are less likely to take it before the year is done. The study showed that nearly 96 percent of senior executives and managers are entitled to three weeks or more of vacation time for the entire year, but only 66 percent expect to use the entire amount. Seventy-nine percent of senior executives and managers are entitled to four weeks or more; however, only 37 percent expect to take that much vacation time for the current year. And more than a third of senior executives and managers are entitled to five or more weeks vacation time, yet only 10 percent expect to take it. Fifty-nine percent of senior executives and managers at organizations with more than 10,000 employees are entitled to five weeks or more of vacation time, with only 20 percent expecting to take it. However, at organizations with fewer than 500 employees, only 27 percent of senior executives and managers are entitled to five weeks or more vacation, with only 6 percent expecting to take it. One exec respondent to the survey said: "Maybe we think things will collapse if we leave for more than a few days. Maybe we just can't deal with the thought of what we will face coming back after leaving for more than a few days. Maybe we need to FEEL things will collapse if we leave for more than a few days. Whatever the reason, stringing a week or more of vacation time together is a rarity indeed." NFI Research (www.nfiresearch.com) is a U.S.-based research firm that identifies and analyzes trends and attitudes in business and organizational management and information technology.

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