Fitness: Did you hear?...

Bikram yoga lawsuit settles out of court, Hilton says Living Well clubs not on block, NSGA reports '04/'05 consumer stats, SGMA to offer webinar on trademarks and patents, plus much more...
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For the week of May 24-31

>> One positive about the rapid growth of Curves is that its numbers now are sneaking up on the number of McDonald's franchises in the United States. There is now one Curves for every two of the burger joints nationally, but in LaCrosse, Mich., where two researchers recently studied the benefits of the workout (see SNEWS® story, March 11, 2005, "Curves workout provides low- to moderate-intensity routine"), the ratio is reversed: An astounding TWO Curves for every one Mickey D's.

>> In case you hadn't heard yet, Paul Gillstrom is the new vice president of marketing at True Fitness. Although not truly replacing Scott Eyler, who left in March and was vice president of sales and marketing, Gillstrom obviously will take on some of those duties. We can't say which since he didn't return a couple of messages.

>> Bikram Choudhury, the founder and now multi-millionaire creator of now super trendy Bikram Yoga known for a certain series of poses done in highly heated rooms, and a San Francisco-based yoga cooperative have settled their intellectual property differences out of court. Bikram, who had trademarked his name and copyrighted the series of yoga poses, had been sending "cease and desist" letters to studios teaching the routine without paying him licensing fees. The cooperative that challenged his offensive moves was formed from a number of studios banding together in the case, Open Source Yoga Unity vs. Choudhury, filed in 2003 in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. After nearly two years of legal bickering (see SNEWS® story, Oct. 1, 2004, "Bikram yoga becomes eye of legal storm"), the two parties have settled out of court. Judge Phyllis Hamilton has dismissed the case with prejudice, in a confidential settlement that leaves both parties paying their own legal costs and fees. The document was signed in early May after a settlement conference on May 3. A previous settlement conference had not reached an accord. A trial had been set for June 20.

>> GERMANY -- Although not in the indoor cycling market in North America, Precor showcased its new C130i teambike at the recent FIBO show in Germany for the international market, where every company simply must have an indoor cycle to compete, we're told. The bike has been refined, the company says, with a contoured flywheel that spreads the weight toward the center for a "real cycling experience." The bike originally appeared as a prototype at the IFEMA show in Madrid earlier this year.

>> In response to consumer feedback, Nautilus has released a lighter-weight pair of Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells. The new dumbbells allow users to select weight from 2.5 to 20 pounds in 2.5-pound increments via selectorized dials on the handles. They lock in only the selected weight and leave the remaining plates in the rack. The dumbbells also have a shorter bar length and smaller handle grip. Retailing for $299, plus $89 for the optional stand, the Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells are available directly from Nautilus (www.bowflexselecttech.com) and, eventually, at select retailers.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- A recent article in London's The Times reporting that the Hilton Group plans to sell its Living Well fitness chain are being denied by the company in various newspaper articles, including the Manchester (England) Evening News. A spokesman for the group dismissed the article that said the company is "quietly sounding out potential buyers," saying the story is pure speculation and the there are no immediate plans to sell. Living Well, which is worth an estimated GBP 80 million (approximately USD $145.9 million), operates 122 clubs globally with a total of about 160,000 members. It has 86 clubs in Britain, of which 58 are attached to Hilton hotels. Hilton has reportedly had a challenging start to the year with its betting and gaming business, which has held back profits, and is in the process of selling some of its hotels.

>> SGMA's 2005 "Superstudy of Sports Participation," offering detailed statistical and background information on sports participation, is available. The "Fitness Activities Study," a report on participation in 34 activities, is divided into non-equipment and equipment-based activities. American Sports Data conducted the report for the SGMA. Click here for more information on how to buy the report.

>> PowerBar Pria is telling ladies to "Psst…Pass It On" as part of a national consumer educational campaign and fund-raising effort designed to make it easy for individuals to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. In collaboration with the National Philanthropic Trust, PowerBar Pria is offering to consumers Pria e-postcards (www.powerbarpria.com/passiton) that provide relevant facts about breast cancer and helpful tips toward breast cancer prevention. For every e-postcard sent, PowerBar Pria will make a 5-cent donation to the Breast Cancer 3-Day, with a maximum donation of $20,000. It's also bringing the "Psst … Pass It On" campaign to each of the 12 Breast Cancer 3-Day events by offering walkers the opportunity to reach out to loved ones and share valuable breast cancer information while en route. PowerBar Pria will provide 3-Day participants with prepaid postcards, which can be personalized with a message and sent from a 17-foot Pria mailbox set up at each event. The "Psst … Pass In On" program will bring PowerBar Pria's 2005 contribution to the 3-Day to $220,000. PowerBar Pria has also signed on with the National Philanthropic Trust as a national series sponsor for the 2005 Breast Cancer 3-Day Series. PowerBar Pria will be the exclusive program sponsor in the nutrition, energy and snack bar category for the 2005 series of multi-day, 60-mile breast cancer education and fund-raising walks. www.powerbar.com

>> After hitting $48.9 billion in 2004, retail sales of sporting goods are expected to grow 2 percent in 2005, according to the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), with exercise equipment being the largest single category at $5.01 billion, showing growth of 1 percent. Also, sales of athletic and sports equipment, shoes and clothing are forecast to reach $50 billion in 2005. In 2004, athletic and sport clothing grew 6 percent to $11.2 billion. Footwear showed a 2 percent gain, about the same as the previous year. Total footwear sales reached $14.45 billion in 2004 versus $14.45 billion the previous year. Equipment also went up 2 percent. Sales of sports equipment were $22.9 billion in 2004 versus $22.4 billion in 2003. Sales of all sporting goods (clothing, footwear and equipment) rose 3 percent, after virtually no change in 2003. Sales reached $48.9 billion in 2004 versus $47.4 billion in 2003. "The Sporting Goods Market in 2005" report is an NSGA consumer study that projects 2004 purchases of sporting goods products based on a survey of 100,000 U.S. households. Fore more information on acquiring the survey, visit www.nsga.org.

>> SGMA’s Legal Task Force team is presenting a two-part webinar on intellectual property issues impacting today’s business. The third installment of the SGMA Executive Webinar Series, “Protecting Your Products with Trademarks and Patents” focuses on the key legal issues to navigate when taking product to market and maintaining bran integrity. The sessions are June 15 and 22, noon to 2 p.m. EST. Multiple participants can join the session from any location through a phone or Internet connection. Cost for SGMA members is $199 per location and $299 for non-members. To register, click here or call 202-775-1762.

>> Everlast Worldwide has entered into a licensing agreement with Brooklyn, N.Y.-based, Gleason's Gym. Under the terms of the agreement, which covers the United States, Aruba and the United Kingdom, the owners of Gleason's Gym will seek new locations and sign gym owners to brand their facilities using the name, "Everlast Gleason's Gym." In addition, the gyms will exclusively feature Everlast boxing equipment and will be retailers for Everlast boxing equipment and apparel lines. Gleason's Gym is world-renowned as a training spot for some of the sport's high-profile fighters.

>> The National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) board of directors has elected two officers to terms that will run through Jan. 31, 2006, and a new director at-large. A.J. Blanchard, executive vice president-hardgoods of Academy Sports & Outdoors, will serve as chairman-elect. He had held the dual-position of treasurer and chairman-elect since January. The Fitness Experience's Doug Pearson had been chairman-elect but resigned from the board in January after the store filed for Ch. 7 bankruptcy. Bruce Ullery, president of MC Sports, was elected treasurer. In addition, Chairman Ron Kruse will continue to serve in that capacity through Jan. 31, after which Blanchard will assume the chairman's responsibilities, and Ullery will become treasurer/chairman-elect. Kruse will remain on the board as past chairman. Under the by-laws, NSGA officers begin their terms on June 1, but in order to provide adequate time for Blanchard's transition as a new officer, the board agreed to extend Kruse's term through next January. Also, Terry Hennessey, president of PEI Source For Sports in Canada, has been elected director at-large, replacing Randy Hooper, president of Sports Distributors of Canada.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- This is the way to get a kid mad at you, but it might be worth it -- a new shoe that controls how much TV kids watch. Developed by a student at London's Brunel University, the Square-eyes shoe has an insole that records the amount of exercise a child does and converts it into TV watching time. One button on the shoe records the number of steps taken each day, and then transmits it to a base station connected to the TV. It calculates the time earned and once it runs out, the TV automatically switches itself off. Bleeep! No more tube for you! The ultimate aim is 12,000 steps for girls and 15,000 for boys to receive a maximum of two hours of TV time per day. Square-eyes was showcased alongside the other work of Brunel graduates at the University's School of Engineering and Design.

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