Fitness: Did you hear?...

TFE bankruptcy liquidation still in limbo, Pilates certification in place, who has the buying power in Germany?, Nautilus requests dismissal in Icon patent case, plus much more...
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For the week of June 14-20

>> Been wondering what's up with the bankruptcy liquidation of The Fitness Experience, including its non-filings of federally required statements and forms? Well,… nothing. There has been no action in the court since May 20, and TFE still hasn't complied with federal requirements after filing its Ch. 7 liquidation in January. But there isn't much the court can do since everybody from the old TFE ship has scattered or says it has nothing or knows nothing.

>> Pilates isn't a trend to be ignored. And now -- a few years after working hard to start one over-riding organization to oversee Pilates certification and teaching standards -- Kevin Bowen has the Pilates Method Alliance certification in place. The certification, which was launched in May 2005, was developed by someone who specializes in such things -- a so-called psychometrician (yes, there are such people it seems!) -- who was assisted by Pilates specialists from a wide group of companies and teaching organizations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. It's the real deal in certifications since it followed the requirements outlined by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. More information is available from PMA (http://pilatesmethodalliance.org). The alliance has also developed a code of ethics and teaching standards, available for download on the website. The group will hold its fifth international conference Nov. 3-6 in Indian Wells, Calif. More also on the website.

>> GERMANY -- Who has the buying power in Germany? According to a study by market research firm GfK, the 40- to 49-year-olds have the most disposable income, with an average of Euro 24,880 (USD $30,204) annually to spend. Next up are the 50- to 59-year-olds with an average of just over Euro 24,000 (USD $29,136) to spend, followed by the 30-somethings with only Euro 22,881 (USD $27,778), and then the 60- to 64-year-olds (Euro 20,443 or USD $24,818) and those 65+ (Euro 19,691 or USD $23,904). The 20-somethings don't have much buying powers, having only an average of Euro 14,189 (USD $17,225) to spend. GfK defines buying power as a combination of annual income and interest, as well as other income such as that country's equivalent of social security/retirement and unemployment. (Translations of Euros to dollars only for information, based on the rate as of June 20, and not related to current status of the Euro's buying power in the German economy or to currency fluctuations.)

>> A request by Nautilus for the court to reconsider its May 26 dismissal of its patent infringement case against Icon will be considered by the judge. In a ruling issued June 13, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez wrote that although it is unusual to reconsider a dismissal and "generally disfavored," the court may grant such a motion if a showing of new facts or authority are brought to the court. Icon now has until June 30 to respond and the reconsideration will be noted as of July 1 in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, Seattle. The agreement to consider the motion is due to a recent deposition of an expert witness. For more, see SNEWS® story, May 27, 2005, "U.S. court dismisses Nautilus' patent infringement case against Icon."

>> IHRSA is launching the Club Business Entrepreneur Conference in September to provide a meeting, educational and networking opportunity for industry entrepreneurs and independent club operators. It said the goal of the conference is to provide its attendees with the resources necessary to jump-start their businesses, increase sales and become more profitable. The conference, which will feature a roster of educational speakers, follows the launch of Club Business for Entrepreneurs magazine, which is written specifically for and about operators of small and medium-sized, independently owned health and fitness facilities. It will be held in conjunction with the 24th Annual National Fitness Trade Show in Las Vegas from Sept. 8-10. For a list of seminar speakers and award recipients and to register, visit www.ihrsa.org/conference.

>> So much for a paperless society -- some retail experts once predicted the growth of the Internet would lead to the demise of the print catalog, but few are suggesting that today. Sales from print catalogs are expected to hit $152 billion this year, up from $143 billion in 2004, said the Direct Marketing Association's Shop-at-Home Information Center in New York. What's more, retailers and online merchants that previously had little interest in print catalogs increasingly are developing them. Seems research shows that catalogs are great sales drivers, even driving it to the website. Multi-channel retailing is the state of the industry right now, and 80 percent of Americans now shop from home at least some of the time. Plus, the fact that catalogs are delivered to consumers' homes provides an advantage over the Internet. While the web is passive, the mail order catalog is considered an assertive channel and the user decides when to call. They've also proven to have staying power -- nearly six out of 10 catalog shoppers keep a catalog that they order from for at least three months. Just you wait til the fall and holiday gift-shopping season. You betcha your mailbox will be stuffed with catalogs again, as ours is.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- Tony Parsons and Jon Harvey have launched a website dedicated to the buying and selling of high quality professional fitness equipment between club owners and the public. A new concept in the UK, www.auctionfitness.com allows fitness club owners the opportunity to get a better deal on their trade in equipment and also offer professional products for home users at an affordable cost. A wide range of equipment will be offered, and purchases can be delivered and installed. Parsons and Harvey said that sellers -- who benefit from a guaranteed percentage return on all sales -- have the full back up of the company's marketing and advertising package, and fitness equipment experts are available to give equipment "quality ratings" if required.

>> Nearly half of all Americans avoid shopping on the Internet because they are worried their personal information will be stolen, according to results from a recent survey. The survey also found nearly all Americans think identity theft and spyware are serious problems, but only 28 percent think the government is doing enough to address the issues. About 70 percent said new laws are necessary to protect consumer privacy. Specifically, the survey indicated 48 percent of respondents avoid Internet shopping, while 97 percent think identity theft is a serious problem and 93 percent think spyware is a serious problem. Those questioned were also worried about threats from unwanted "spam" e-mails. Avivah Litan, vice president and research director at Gartner Inc., said the study's findings are consistent with research she is currently conducting. "One of the main findings in that research is that consumers are taking notice of all these security threats and attacks," Litan said. "They are having a direct adverse effect on e-commerce. People are shopping less online, and in the end (the security breeches) will slow down e-commerce growth." The telephone survey was conducted by Pineda Consulting for the Washington-based Cyber Security Industry Alliance, a trade group that has urged the White House to pay more attention to Internet security and lobbied against some security bills it considers unnecessary. The survey questioned 1,003 likely voters from May 2-9 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

>> Tagging onto the trend to give a sporty flair (and marketing cache) to all kinds of products, candy makers are now working on a different type of mixture, combining sweets with "healthy" ingredients alleged to boost energy. According to an Associated Press report, the Jelly Belly Candy Co. introduced Sports Beans at this year's All Candy Expo in Chicago, and "each one-ounce serving has Vitamins C and E plus 120 milligrams of electrolytes to boost energy and prevent dehydration." Bill Kelley, Jelly Belly vice chairman, told the AP, "We felt there was an opening in the market for a non-bar, non-chocolate functional product. This has the energy component, electrolytes, and it tastes good." According to the report, lemon-lime and orange flavor beans should hit stores later this summer. The new confections have sparked debate: Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, was quoted as saying, "People need to realize if they haven't been sweating and need to replace electrolytes, you don't really need these products."

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