Fitness: Did you hear?...

Dave Taylor goes to Bodyguard from Muscle Dynamics, Asics Tiger sues Target for trademark infringement, Iron Grip adds international dealers, Brooks Sports kicks it in gear, Got Milk campaign has valuable lessons, NY's Marriott Marquis fitness center has Star Trac and Hoist, and more...
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>> Dave Taylor leaves Muscle Dynamics July 3 to start at Bodyguard in a newly created position of eastern regional manager of commercial sales. He tells SNEWS he will not only work to expand the network for commercial sales, but will also develop strength products for Bodyguard. Taylor had been at Muscle Dynamics for 11 years, where he was most recently vice president of sales in the eastern region. He said simply it was time for a change, and the new role would offer additional long-term opportunities. Before Muscle Dynamics, he was at Nautilus. No word yet on what will happen to his position at Muscle Dynamics; Taylor will be at the Health & Fitness Business show with Bodyguard.

>> Asics Tiger Corp. of California and Asics Corp. of Japan have filed suit in Federal District Court in the District of Minnesota against Target Corp. for trademark infringement, unfair competition and trademark dilution. Asics is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction against Target to prevent any future sales and distribution of shoes that bear a stripe design similar to the Asics design. In addition, Asics is also seeking damages, including punitive damages, profits and attorney fees. Asics has also asked U.S. Customs to seize such shoes being imported into the United States. "Target's shoes are an attempt to ride on the image and goodwill Asics has developed over the years. By now, those that might want to tread on our rights should be getting the message -- Asics will not tolerate such actions," said Michael Zall, vice president and general counsel for Asics.

>> Iron Grip Barbell Company has added Alison Tavianini to the Iron Grip sales team. As the account executive for the Northeastern United States and International, Tavianini is primarily responsible for dealer relations and account development for the states north of North Carolina and east of Ohio. She will also cover international dealer relations and account development for all countries except Canada and Mexico. Tavianini will report to National Sales Manager Donna McCallum. In other Iron Grip news, the company recently added six new authorized international dealers. They are: Doil Trading in Seoul, Korea; SEARA International in Bangkok, Thailand; Fitness Design Inc. in Manila, Philippines; Faisal Malthas Sports in Amman, Jordan; M.T.M. Fitness & Leisure in Doha, Qatar; and Grupo Forte Norte, S.A. de C.V. in Mexico. That brings the network of dealers outside the United States to 19.

>> In the June 20 edition of the Puget Sound Business Journal, look for a story titled "Brooks Sports has its competition on the run." It cites company CEO Jim Weber as noting that the company's strategy of focusing solely on making running shoes and apparel for the performance running market is working. Last year, Bothell, Wash.-based, Brooks Sports recorded $120 million in sales, a record year for the 89-year-old company. "What we have done is take ourselves back to where we were in the very beginning of Brooks," Weber was quoted in the Seattle area paper. "We are only selling in the performance running market." Brooks stopped selling cross-training shoes, basketball shoes and cleats to focus on what Weber said is the $700 million performance running market.

>> So, you want to hear about the impact of a promotional campaign? One that could perhaps teach the fitness industry a few lessons about awareness? A decade ago, Aaron Burr had peanut butter stuck to the roof of his mouth and frantically reached for the milk that wasn't there and asked the question that everybody knows and has been knocked off a million times around the world in earnest and in jest: "Got milk?" Sixty commercials later, the campaign has not only helped sell millions of gallons of milk, it's become an all-American icon. For example: Over 95 percent of Americans recall the ad line; it has been used as comic relief by Cosby, Leno and Frazier; the campaign has redefined marketing to such an extent that it's taught in the nation's top business schools; and it's become a multi-million dollar licensing property. The dairy industry spends $150 million annually to support it, including use on those milk mustache ads. In addition, "Got Milk?" has become a hot property with over 100 product licensees. The California Milk Processor Board was established in 1993 to make milk more competitive and increase milk consumption in California. SNEWS View: OK, so fitness doesn't have $150 million a year, but it has a small percentage of that which could be used for a small campaign that has verve and impact. But that's another story.

>> The New York Marriott Marquis in the heart of Times Square has opened the new Marquis Fitness Center in its 23rd floor sky lobby. The glass-enclosed 4,000-square-foot space appears as a "floating light box," midway over the hotel's 37-story atrium and provides panoramic views of Times Square and midtown Manhattan to exercisers. It has been stocked with the Cardio Theater system as well as Star Trac cardiovascular equipment and Hoist strength equipment.

>> Scott Carey has been named vice president of footwear sales for Fila USA. In his new role, Carey will assume responsibility for improving Fila USA's retail customer relationships and the brand's penetration in athletic footwear distribution channels. Carey, 49, was most recently vice president of sales for Brooks Sports; he also held various national and regional sales positions with Nike.

>> Each year, the July/August issue of the Journal on Active Aging honors ICAA members who drive the industry forward. The journal and association want to know if you or your organization deserve recognition as an active aging innovator. Please contact JeniferM@icaa.cc to receive an application form. The deadline is June 28.

>> Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp. (NYSE: BFT) has announced that it plans to issue $200 million of Senior Notes due 2011 in an offering under Rule 144A and Regulation S under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Bally also intends to enter into a new $90 million senior secured revolving credit facility with its existing group of banks concurrently with the closing of the note offering. Bally plans to use the net proceeds from the issuance of the Senior Notes and, if necessary, initial borrowings under the new credit facility to repay all outstanding borrowings under its existing credit facility, including the remaining balance of its existing term loan due November 2004, and to pay related fees and expenses.

>> The board of directors of PE4LIFE, the Washington, D.C.-based, physical fitness advocacy group, has promoted Anne Flannery to president and CEO. Flannery has served as executive director of the group since its launch in 2000. She and Tom Cove, vice president of government relations for SGMA, have led lobbying efforts for the passage of the Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Act. She's also assembled a team of marketing and public relations experts for a national campaign to raise awareness about the importance of daily physical education. Flannery, 41, is a former Internet sports marketing consultant, and was director of Women's Sports Marketing-Worldwide for Spalding Sports Worldwide. In other news, Brenda VanLengen was promoted by Flannery to vice president of marketing. VanLengen, who joined P.E.4LIFE in 2001, was formerly director of marketing.

>> In other PEP news, the House Labor-HHS-Ed Appropriations SubCommittee included in its bill $60 million for the Carol M. White "PEP" program. In each of the last three years, the Senate has funded PEP, but the House Committee has zeroed it out. PEP was funded in conference, on the strength of the Senate's support, the PE4Life group reported last week.

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