Fitness: Did you hear?...

FreeMotion Fitness adds and promotes new sales staff, European summer heat depreses sales in sporting goods, footwear sales slip in last six months, "Super-Thighs-It" with "The Bulge" dessert, and more...
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>> FreeMotion Fitness has added or promoted a gaggle of new staff, including a new vice president of sales, three regional sales managers and six new territory sales managers. Kevin Bryant has joined the company as vice president of sales for the United States and Canada as of Sept. 1. As a 20-year veteran in the fitness industry, Bryant most recently was the vice president of sales for Cardio Theater. Former territory sales managers -- Brian Longuevan, Chris McGill and Shawn Patton -- have been promoted to fill regional sales manager positions and will report directly to Bryant, overseeing their respective territory managers. The six new territory sales managers are: Danny Murphy (FL), Alex Martinez (TX), Geoff Godsey (OH, MI, IN), Mike Frick (WA, OR, CO, UT, ID, WY, MT, AK), Brett Schuchat (NY), and Bill Bartlett (IL). In other news, head strength and condition coach of the Oakland Raiders, Tim Adams, has had FreeMotion Selectorized equipment installed in the Raiders' primary training facility in Alameda, Calif.

>> Overwhelming summer heat across Europe has been blamed for depressed sales in sporting goods stores, according to recent figures from a monthly survey by Germany's sport+mode trade magazine. Through late July, sales figures had been climbing well, but when the heat hit, consumers must have found it too hot to go shopping. Sales were down for the month of August by 6.1 percent overall compared to August a year ago. That caused the figures for 2003 through August to melt-down to only 0.9 percent gain over 2002. These figures are based on the reports of 72 sports stores regionally spread across Germany.

>> Retail sales of athletic footwear slipped 4.4 percent from October 2002 through March 2003, according to data released by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). Sales for the six-month reporting period were $6.24 billion versus $6.52 billion for the same period the previous year. Eight footwear categories experienced double-digit declines, led by trail running shoes (-22 percent) and aerobic shoes (-19 percent). Of the 24 types of athletic and sport footwear, 14 posted declines in unit sales for this period versus last year, and the NSGA has projected a mere 2 percent increase in athletic footwear sales for 2003. The largest categories -- in terms of dollars spent by consumers during this six-month period -- were walking shoes ($1.54 billion), cross-training shoes ($824.1 million), running/jogging shoes ($774.4 million) and gym shoes/sneakers ($658.0 million). All four categories experienced both unit and dollar declines compared to the previous year. Online/internet sales were 2.8 percent of the total athletic footwear market, up from 2.1 percent the previous year.

>> PR agency Heart Communications accepted a financial settlement from PowerPlate North America late last month stemming from a contract dispute. The agency filed a lawsuit against PowerPlate in mid-2002 for refusal to pay a final retainer included in the contract between the two companies and signed by Heart Communications President Michael Hoffman and PowerPlate CEO Jerry Beckman. Details of the settlement are confidential.

>> A total of 2,000 Amer Group Plc shares have been subscribed for as a result of an exercise of its 1998 A/B/C warrants. The corresponding increase in the company's share capital amounting to Euro 8,000 was registered on Sept. 4. As a result of this increase, Amer Group Plc's share capital now totals Euro 97,578,280 and the total number of shares in issue is 24,394,570.

>> Iron Grip Barbell Company has recently added five additional authorized international Iron Grip dealers to its global network of dealers. The newest members include Cardio Fitness Private Ltd., based in New Delhi, India, which covers the fitness market in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives; Malaysia; Gymline AS in Krakeroy, Norway; Life Fitness Iberia, based in Barcelona, Spain, which covers the markets in Spain and Andorra; and The Health Club in Damascus, Syria, covering the Syrian market. This recent addition of five new dealers brings the growing number of authorized Iron Grip dealers outside the United States to 32.

>> Girls are more active when fathers model physical activity and mothers support activity by enrolling their young daughters in sports, according to an article published in the September issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official scientific journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). This information adds to an existing body of research indicating kids are more active when their parents promote physical activity. Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University looked at which factors contribute to increased physical activity in girls, particularly examining how mothers and fathers influence both the frequency and opportunity for girls to be active and participate in sports. They examined parents' activity-related behaviors, the extent to which these behaviors caused girls to be active, and how parents, together and separately, promote and encourage physical activity. Prior research has shown that young girls exhibit much lower levels of physical activity and fitness than boys, which tends to decline with the onset of puberty. It also has been shown that parents influence their daughters more than their sons when it comes to exercise and sports. Fathers were found to more likely be explicit modelers, while mothers most often provided logistical support. The research paper is in Vol. 35, No. 9, on pages 1589-1595. For more information, go to www.acsm.org.

>> Bally Total Fitness has touted the release of a women's exercise glove, one it touts as the "first glove ever" specifically designed for a women's hand. The gloves will be sold nationally at Lady Foot Locker, Sports Authority and other stores. With each pair comes a two-week Bally Total Fitness membership worth $25. Bally Total Fitness specializes in the manufacturing and marketing of women's fitness products distributed nationally. Sports & Leisure, a division of E & B Giftware LLC is the exclusive licensee for the sale of all Bally hand exercise products. SNEWS View: We know for a fact we've already seen gloves designed for women, so we're a little confused by this claim that seems to be a bit over-eager.

>> Jazzercise and the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) have joined forces to launch the first Active Aging Week Sept. 29 to Oct. 5. In celebration, fitness and wellness facilities across the United States will team up with local Jazzercise instructors to offer free "Simply-Lite" fitness classes, a light version of the original Jazzercise program. Participating locations will include Washington, D.C.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Palm Desert, Calif.; Miami, Fla.; Chicago; Denver; Iowa City, Iowa; Henderson, Nev.; Dallas; and New York.

>> We think we smell a bit of humor: The 5 Spot Eatery in Seattle says, "Super-Thighs-It" with a dessert called "The Bulge" that requires consumers ordering it to sign a waiver. The newest 5 Spot menu item the restaurant says is a calorie-laden tribute to trial lawyer John Banzhaf, who led the charge against the tobacco industry and has now turned his attention to restaurants. This dessert, simply called The Bulge, slathers together a sugar-coated, deep-fried banana with Madagascar vanilla ice cream, house-made caramel, freshly whipped cream and a cascade of roasted macadamia nuts. Customers will be required to sign a waiver acknowledging the inherent responsibility of ordering fattening food. With the threat of "Fat Suits" and the reluctance of restaurants to speak out for fear of being targeted, 5 Spot partner Jeremy Hardy said, "Frivolous lawsuits are a waste of resources and even worse, continue to absolve people from personal accountability for their actions." SNEWS View: Our Seattle sources tell us that 5 Spot is actually known for its availability of healthy choices. We love this little poke in the eye.

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