Fitness: Did you hear?...

Consumer Reports looks at heart rate monitors, PE4Life gets USA Today splash, Reebok and Fila back at ispo, Tylenol sponsors workout program - ouch?, Volvo Sports Design Forum at ispo, plus more ...
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>> Rated in the June 2003 Consumer Reports magazine -- in addition to treadmills and energy bars -- are heart-rate monitors, with the magazine looking at accuracy and ease of use in coming up with an overall rating. The Acumen Cardio Trainer and Polar a3 got the top recommendation. Neither, however, got two excellent CR "blob" rating circles, but an "excellent" in accuracy and a "half-blob" or a "very good" for ease of use. Next came the Impulse 12, then Freestyle Endurance FIT 1 and the Cardiosport Autozone. The next ones (HEARTalker Advanced Fitness, Mio Shape, Reebok Studio Trainer and Cateye Heartbeat Counter) all got only "fair" ratings for accuracy, and -- except for the Reebok's "excellent" for ease of use -- mid-level "goods" for ease of use.

>> In the May 14 USA Today newspaper last week, P.E.4Life got a great plug for its work in re-installing great physical education programs in schools. The story titled, "P.E. classes plugging in to what moves the kids," discusses the group’s successes as well as the federal grant money it has helped disperse. This is not your momma's PE, mind you (or likely even yours). Teachers and schools who win grants are buying, per the story, heart-rate monitors, GameRider bikes, pedometers, fitness assessment machines, and all kinds of stuff that passionate teachers say keep kids interested. "Sports gear-makers hope so, if it keeps kids moving. With child obesity rates having doubled in 20 years, they worry today's tots won't buy stuff to make them sweat when they finally get their own credit cards. So gear-makers and retailers created P.E.4LIFE, an advocacy group that lobbies for the $60 million, up from $5 million in 2000, in annual federal grants for innovative P.E. programs.” Says P.E.4LIFE Director Anne Flannery, who previously worked at Spalding heading the first major corporate division devoted to women's sports gear: "When we talk about 21st-century P.E., it's about embracing technology." To see the whole story, click here. For more info on the group, go to www.PE4Life.org.

>> Everlast Worldwide Inc. (Nasdaq: EVST), manufacturer, marketer and licensor of sporting goods and apparel under the Everlast brand name, has received the 2002 Vendor of the Year Award for Logistics, Softlines, from leading sporting goods retailer, The Sports Authority. Elliott Kerbis, president of The Sports Authority, said: "It is with great pleasure that we acknowledge the efforts of Everlast Worldwide. Everlast executed beautifully delivering orders that were 100 percent complete and 100 percent on time,"

>> GERMANY -- Reebok and Fila are the next two big names to say they are returning to the summer ispo sporting goods trade show in Munich, Germany, in June. Hans-Hermann Deters , Reebok Germany’s executive manager, said, "The participation in ispo applies to our distribution concept, which strongly focuses on the specialty trade. And it also offers us the opportunity to present the Reebok brand in its complete diversity -- with exclusive innovations, new, strong collections, and the associated compelling marketing concepts. We have a number of success stories to tell. The ispo is the perfect place for that." For Fila, this will mark the Italian company's return after many years. The earlier dates in late June made that possible, German Managing Director Edgar Keppeler said.

>> Got optimism? Other CEOs seem to, according to research on how senior managers are eyeing the future. Most of those interviewed for a Net Future Institute survey said they have an optimistic view of business growth. Fifty-three percent of executives and managers see the economy regaining a significant or medium amount of strength over the next 12 months. When it asked this same question in December 2002, almost six months ago, the figure was 6 percent less. The biggest issue facing organizations today is the current economic condition, said 71 percent of senior executives and managers. Following are industry conditions (49 percent) and business efficiency (39 percent). Overall optimism of executives and managers is at 79 percent, with the remainder being pessimistic. When asked about their optimism of the increase/growth of business in general in the coming year, 11 percent of respondents said they were extremely optimistic and 68 percent said they were somewhat optimistic. Wrote one respondent: "We sense genuine relief now that the Iraq war is abated, meaning that corporate America is no longer hostage. Plans are either getting approval now or getting revised. Action is replacing indecision." For more, go to www.nfiresearch.com

>> Increasing obesity is costing money, with half of that picked up by government, according to an AP report last week that reported a study in the journal Health Affairs that showed that $93 billion per year goes to treat health problems of people who are overweight. "Overall, spending attributed to excessive weight made up 9 percent of all medical spending in 1998." Researchers came up with the figure by comparing the medical expenses of adults who are not overweight with the expenses of those similar in most ways but who were overweight or obese. The difference in spending on people who are overweight and those of normal weight were, for the most part, not statistically significant by themselves. But major differences appeared for those who were obese: The average increase in spending over a person of normal weight was $732 per year -- 37.4 percent more.

>> You just gotta wonder when an exercise program's sponsor is Tylenol. The pain-medication company has teamed up with Bally Total Fitness to introduce a training program called Pro Power Training, specifically the eight-hour pain-relief product "for the extended relief of muscle aches and pains." Trying for a positive spin, the company said: "The makers of Tylenol 8 Hour recognize the importance of fitness training for keeping the body, mind and soul healthy and energized; however, common muscle aches and pains associated with such training programs can make these workouts uncomfortable or sideline even hard-core fitness enthusiasts. According to the club, the simple workout sessions challenge sport-specific muscle groups and include a variety of warm-up, cardio, strength-building and cool-down exercises. SNEWS View: You gotta take what you can get when it comes to sponsorship. We guess. Nevertheless, there is something really wrong about a pain-relief product putting its name on a workout program. Am I gonna hurt that much? What a message to send.

>> Wacoal Sports Science Corp., makers of new CW-X Performance Conditioning Wear, has appointed retail and sales executive Albert J. St. Jean as its first sales development manager. St. Jean, 29, will support the company’s network of independent sales representatives across the United States, as well as develop key account business, manage the sales administration function, and handle sales directly in territories where the company currently doesn’t have sales representation. St. Jean joins Wacoal Sports Science from the MF Athletic Company where he was a buyer and manager of Team Sales for three years.

>> GERMANY -- The Germany-based chain of Karstadt stores, including Karstadt Sport, reported sales for the first quarter were down 1.1 percent, putting it closer to where it was the previous year. Specialty stores run by Karstadt showed a loss of 10.3 percent.

>> The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), a senior fitness and wellness association, and Active Living Partners, a division of Human Kinetics publishers, have joined forces to increase physical activity among older adults. Active Living Partners, developed by Human Kinetics and The Cooper Institute, is a comprehensive behavior change program aimed at helping sedentary adults adopt and maintain physically active lifestyles. Their course, Active Living Every Day, is a program that teaches people realistic ways to incorporate physical activity into their lives. The course also helps people build lifestyle skills that will enable them to stay physically active over time, such as addressing and overcoming barriers to physical activity, realistic goal setting and time management. Through the new partnership with Human Kinetics, ICAA will encourage its 2,000 member organizations to deliver the program.

>> GERMANY -- The second Volvo SportsDesign Forum at the ispo sporting goods show will be June 28, the day before the show opens its three-day run. The topic will be “New Materials and Technologies -- The Influence in Performance, Look and Feel as well as the Advantages for the User.” Speakers will include top designers and others from sports, industrial design and the academic world. The all-day session will be opened by Henrik Otto, design director of the Volvo Car Corp. Using a 1:1 model of the latest Volvo Concept Car, he will talk about the latest materials and engineering developments in automobile design. The Volvo Concept Car model will remain at the Volvo booth at the west entrance throughout ispo summer 03. Also appearing will be Ed Boyd, global creative director for the entire Nike Equipment division. There will also be a panel discussion on natural wool and high-tech fibers, with Dana McCauley, global marketing director for DuPont, and Scott Champion, research, development and product innovation manager for the Merino Corp. in New Zealand. In addition, Christoph Boeninger, director of design affairs, Europe’s largest design studio, and is generally acknowledged as the inventor of laptops, will present, as will Axel Thallemer, bionics guru and founder and owner of Festo Corporate Design AG, who says he finds inspiration in nature. Fritz Frenkler, ex-chief designer of the Deutsche Bahn AG, and managing director of f/p design since 2001, will give a talk about how designs develop straight from computers to prototypes or even into serial production. Details are at www.ispo-SportsDesign.com.

>> Layne Rigney, who spent the last four years as the director of the sporting goods division at PowerBar, has joined the Franklin Resource Group as vice president of sales and marketing. Rigney brings more than 12 years of experience in the sporting goods, outdoor and cycling markets. Franklin Resource Group provides retail merchandising, event marketing, product sampling/demos, and national account sales coverage for industry leading companies including Asics, Wigwam, Freestyle, JanSport, Clif Bar, Hanes, PowerBar, Sketchers, Russell Athletic, Camelbak and many others. Rigney will be based on the West Coast, and can be reached at 510-910-3723 or at Lrigney@franklinresource.com.

>> GERMANY -- Rainer Angstl, formerly executive director of Munich's Sport Scheck sporting goods store, has joined that store's arch rival, Sport Schuster, also based in Munich. There, he will be the executive director for operations, overseeing purchasing, distribution and marketing. According to owner Flori Schuster, Angstl's hiring sets a tone for the future direction of the company. Angstl, who at age 39 a year ago had been with the company for 24 years, said when he resigned from Scheck that he was unhappy with its direction. "The new direction of the company runs counter to my well-known personal passion for core sports," Angstl wrote in a resignation letter then. SNEWS View: He had vowed to return to sporting goods, and that he did -- exactly a year later. We will lay money a 12-month non-compete was part of the reason for his time-out.

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