Fitness: Did you hear?...

Full-page USA Weekend ad for TreadClimber, Precor opens Japan offices, Dosho Designs hires marketing director, Tom Peters to speak at IHRSA European Congress, exercise equipment sales up 11 percent in '02, innovative product being sought for award, and more...
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>> The Nautilus Group is rolling out its new TreadClimber in no uncertain terms. If you didn't see the USA Weekend national newspaper insert from last weekend, take a look on page 21 where you'll find a full-page ad -- yes, that wasn't a typo, we said full page -- for the new machine. The ad punches all the right consumer buttons by talking about results and saving time as well as showing a nicely cut, sexy, all-American-looking model on the TreadClimber in a half-page picture. In addition, in renowned Bowflex marketing style, the ad gives the URL of www.treadclimberfitness.com when www.treadclimber.com is the actual URL. That way, we bet, the company can truly count response from the ad by tracking hits to the slightly altered URL and any purchases that track to that initial contact.

>> Precor's parent Amer Group has enabled it to open Japanese offices in Tokyo and Osaka in existing Amer offices there. Joe Plastino, Precor international division vice president, said that the company's ability to move into other markets like Japan has been increased because of Amer global sporting goods stature and establishment. "We see great opportunity for growth in Japan, and are committed to building Precor's presence throughout Asia," said Plastino. "Until now, Precor served Japan through a local distributor. It's time to step forward with the greater commitment of a company-owned office." Precor division manager is Koji Akiya who is with his team working with Amer finance and operations resources. Recruited from a former Precor distributor, Akiya is a Precor veteran, involved with the brand in Japan since 1988. Plastino said the Japan offices would be fully staffed in advance of Precor's launch at the Health & Fitness Japan 2003 show in mid-June.

>> Dosho Designs, i.e. the company of Dosho Shifferaw who is the creator of the Bowflex as well as the likes of the PowerBoard, has hired Shelley Foster in its newly created position of director of marketing. Foster, who was previously at Reef Brazil and was also the former global product marketing manager for Nike's training accessories launch, will pull together a strategy and direction for the overall line of equipment at Dosho Designs (www.dosho.com).

>> IHRSA has announced that management guru Tom Peters and former JetBlue Airways Vice President Ann Rhoades will speak at the group's third annual European Congress Oct. 2-4 in London, England. Peters will discuss the changing pace of business and the rapid advancement of technology that define the business environment today. Rhoades will deliver a presentation titled, "People-Centric Cultures Pay Big Dividends: Lessons From Great Companies."

>> The National Retail Federation (www.nrf.com) has praised the tax cut bill signed into law by President Bush, saying it will boost the economy and create jobs. "This tax-cut plan establishes a sound, three-pronged approach that will increase consumer spending, encourage individual and business investment and create much-needed jobs," NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin said. "It will provide a robust and vital shot in the arm for our nation's sluggish economy…. Consumer spending represents two-thirds of GDP, and tax policy that boosts spending has always been the quickest way to pump money into the economy. When consumers spend money in a retail store, it doesn't just sit in the cash register -- it ripples throughout the economy and supports the jobs of countless hard-working Americans." Membership in the NRF includes specialty, discount, catalog, Internet and independent stores. The NRF also represents 32 national and 50 state associations in the United States, as well as 36 international associations representing retailers abroad.

>> Amer Group has announced that re-organizing Wilson Sporting Goods' businesses as of April 29, as well as related adjustments in Wilson's cost base in line with its business and current market situation, are expected to lower Amer Group's overall cost base by approximately Euro 10 million (USD $11.76 million) in 2004. The restructuring will not have a significant impact in the current financial year in terms of additional costs, the company announced. In the new structure, the businesses are being divided into two business areas: Golf and Racquet Sports, and Team Sports. Wilson's central administration functions have been discontinued and decentralized.

>> Email overload got you down? You're not alone. In a recent survey of executives and managers, three of four said they spend an hour or more sending, receiving, reading or writing email, with almost a third (30 percent) spending three hours or more a day, according to the Net Future Institute. And not many (less than 10 percent) are spending less than a half-hour on email. Time spent on email is only slightly higher than 2001, when 71 percent of executives and managers were spending more than one hour a day on email. The number of people spending more than four hours a day on email has increased from 5 percent to 7 percent. Forty-five percent of senior executives and managers say that it takes them between one to two hours daily to sort through and send all of their emails. Twenty-three percent say that it takes them between three and four hours everyday. How much is unnecessary? From a quarter to half of the load, said nearly half the respondents, while a third of them said a half to three-quarters is unneeded. The answer for many is easy: two-thirds aim for the delete key without reading it. Said one respondent: "Trying to keep up with business-related email has become an enormous burden. And then there's spam. Even on vacation, I have to spend time doing 'triage' on my email, for fear of being overwhelmed when I return. Having the ability to communicate with someone does not necessarily give you the right to do so." 

>> Even legislators, judges and the media that cover them can run and have a little fun doing it. The 22nd SGMA Capital Challenge 5K race earlier this month in Washington, D.C., brought out 600 runners, including scores of media (they must not have enough to do) and 25 congressmen and senators, plus agency heads and federal judges. The event raises money for the Special Olympics ($12,000 was raised), while it also tests the fitness of those managing our government, pitting them against each other in team challenges. The best part is the team names: What you C is no BS (CBS), Rhode Runners, My Cornyns are Hurtin' (Sen. John Cornyn), I Never Promised You a Weingarten (NLRB), Robe Runners, and Unembedded for Health Reasons. Fun aside, there are some fast folks out there. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., took home the top Senator finisher honor again (19:51) knocking over a minute off his 2002 time, while Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, repeated as the women’s winner, reducing her time by several minutes (33:45). Representative Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., is still the fastest man in Congress (Mike Synar Award) with his 17:42 time. Overall winners were Jim Hage of the Washington Post (15:27) and Janel Kiley of National Geographic (17:50). Former World Record Holder, Jim Ryun, again enlisted his twin sons and his daughter for his team and retained House Division team honors.

>> National Academy of Sports Medicine has partnered with FitnessInsite, a web-based sales and marketing company for the health club. NASM will manager and monitor all the interactive workouts and fitness content on the FitnessInsite network, which has more than 1,600 websites from top clubs and retailers.

>> Sporting goods sales reached $45.8 billion in 2002, with a 2 percent growth expected in 2003, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. That includes sales of athletic and sports equipment, as well as shoes and clothing, which declined by about 2 percent in 2002. Sales of sports equipment were $21.7 billion in 2002 versus $21.6 billion in 2001. The association projects a 2 percent increase in equipment sales to $21.9 billion for 2003. Exercise equipment showed an 11 percent rise in sales. The data is reported in "The Sporting Goods Market in 2003," a copyrighted NSGA consumer study that projects 2002 purchases of sporting goods products based on a survey of 100,000 U.S. households. For more, go to www.nsga.org.

>> On other sales notes, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association said manufacturers increased sales and profitability in 2002 by controlling costs and leveraging assets. A report recently showed that sporting goods manufacturers' sales growth at 6.8 percent surpassed the growth of the national economy, as well as that of non-durable goods manufacturers. Other findings were that gross margin (38.6 percent) improved substantially, indicative of lower material costs, and overhead cost-cutting practices helped bring more to the bottom line, as return on sales (5.9 percent), return on assets (8.2 percent) and return on investment (13.8 percent) ratios all improved. Meanwhile, there were cutbacks in advertising and R&D spending. For more on the report, go to www.sgma.com

>> Got an innovative product? Nominations for the 2004 Sports Product of the Year competition are being accepted. The top products are displayed at The Super Show, where retail buyers have the opportunity to preview and vote for their favorite. Then, SPORTS EDGE asks representatives from the major media to cast their votes as well. The 2003 winners were the Canopy Trike from Huffy Bicycle Corp. and the Quick Change Dumbell System from Hoist Fitness Systems. For more information, go online at www.sportsedgemag.com.

>> Icon Health & Fitness was selected by The Sports Authority as its Vendor of the Year in the fitness category. Other winners were New Balance for footwear, Russell for apparel, Timex for leisure, Everlast for logistics execution/softlines, and Nike for innovation.

>> If you have to give up your day job in fitness, maybe this is your alternative: Brunswick announces the "Brunswick Zone Big Star" karaoke contest, where the winner will sing the national anthem when the Chicago White Sox play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on July 27 for Brunswick Zone Day at U.S. Cellular Field. Of course, you have to be in the Chicago area for prelims in June (June 14 at 7 p.m. at the following Brunswick Zone locations: Algonquin, Deer Park, Waukegan, Deerfield, Niles, Mount Prospect, Woodridge, Carol Stream, and Naperville. Finals will be held at Brunswick Zone Woodridge on June 21 at 7 p.m.). We want it on tape.

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