Fitness: Did you hear?...

More industry players on Amazon.com; Bodylife moves show to Stuttgart; Asics Tiger Corp. changes name; ispo BrandNew awards calls for entries; Dick's closes women's Ativa stores; Nautilus opens club in China; ispo changes show dates; plus much more.
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>> More on the new Amazon.com sporting goods shop. Nautilus won't be the only fitness manufacturer to be found there. That company is one that happened to send out a press release announcing the move, likely because it's public and has to make an announcement every time it turns around or scratches. In fact, the beta version of the Amazon shop is up now and the list of manufacturers (click on "show all brands" on the left navigation bar once at Amazon.com) will astound you. For example, you will also find Accumeasure, Athlon, Body Flex, Bollinger, Cap Barbell, Fitness Quest, Ball Dynamics, Hampton, Harbinger, Gold's Gym, Impex, Keys, Linex, Polar, PlateMate, Spri, Schiek, Spirit, Star Trac, Trimline and Tuff Stuff, not to mention other softgoods, footwear and accessory brands. Pretty amazing really. Not sure how many people will buy a $7,000 StarTrac treadmill online, though. Seems that most of these products are being sold through agreements or partnerships by Amazon with other e-tailers, such as Sportsrus.com (run by Toys "R" Us), Bodytrends.com (by brick-and-mortar retailer BodyTrends), Musclesurf.com or Esportsonline.com, or through the companies' own e-tail sites.

>> The European fitness show and conference Bodylife announced its move from Karlsruhe, Germany, to Stuttgart for its 2004 show. Convention center management attributed the move to "changes in the marketplace."

>> Asics Tiger Corp. of Irvine, Calif., a subsidiary of Asics Corp. of Kobe, Japan, has changed its name to Asics America Corp. The company was begun more than 50 years ago by Kihachiro Onitsuka who founded "Onitsuka Tiger" in 1949. He started making athletic shoes in his living room and, in 1977, Onitsuka Tiger merged with two other companies to become Asics, which is an acronym for the Latin phrase, "Anima Sana in Corpore Sano" which translates in English to "A sound mind in a sound body." The corporation's name change in the United States coincides with changes to a number of the other ASICS subsidiaries throughout the world. ASICS America Corp. will continue to manage all business in the United States, as well as North, Central and South America.

>> If you haven't seen the October 2003 issue of Backpacker magazine, you should make a point to find it on a newsstand. And maybe it's a publication the fitness industry ought to pay more attention to since backpackers and hikers do need to stay in shape off-season. Page 90: Look for a big plug for the Cybex ArcTrainer on the magazine's fitness column page, with a personal pitch by the Backpacker executive editor (who also happens to be quite a fitness buff and runner). The blurb even gives the Cybex 800 number and website! The box's headline: Cybex ArcTrainer. The copy reads: Our favorite new elliptical trainer duplicates a hiking motion with circular leg movements rather than the lateral running motion most people associate with this type of machine. "When you increase resistance and slope," said Backpacker Executive Editor Jon Dorn, "it feels like you're actually on a steep trail, minus the loose rock." SNEWS View: Couldn't pay for a better ad. And we actually agree from a biomechanics sense, the trainer does work the quads more and simulate real climbing more than the running motion of other ellipticals. Not that either is better or worse. They are just what they are -- different, for different uses, different tastes and different people.

>> How about using airline frequent flier miles to buy exercise equipment? That's what SNEWS spied inLufthansa's program booklet recently, naturally with the option by the German airline for German equipment manufacturer Kettler. Use 150,000 spare miles (or 569 Euros) to buy the Kettler indoor cycle, 175,000 miles (or 799 Euros) to buy a Kettler elliptical crosstrainer, or 145,000 miles (599 Euros) to get your hands on the Kettler rowing machine. Oh, one other fitness accessory available for miles is the Polar M62 heart rate monitor for 39,000 miles.

>> Have a new company and what you think is an innovative product? It may be time to enter theispo BrandNew awards, a competition for start-up companies run by the sporting goods show ispo in Munich, Germany. Winners in seven categories receive all-expense-paid booths at the winter 2004 show and other benefits such as promotional help. Entries are due by Nov. 8. For applications and more information, go to www.ispo-brandnew.com. There are categories that include hardware (including riding, skiing or exercising), fashion, accessories, and action sports.

>> Remember our story about the new Ativa women's stores by Dick's Sporting Goods? (See SNEWS April 25, 2003.) The large chain was trying out two, starting in late spring, with local papers running splash ads and big public grand-opening parties. Hm, both just closed (near Buffalo and in Albany, N.Y.). Great concept with fitness and sporting goods combined with a "feminine" look and merchandising as well as some education, but guess it doesn't play in Peoria. According to the local Times Union paper in Albany, N.Y.: "It was a test, and the test is over," said Jeffrey R. Hennion, vice president of finance at Pittsburgh-based Dick's. "We're pleased that we did the test. We learned a lot." The paper added that officials with the retailer had been reluctant to discuss the Ativa stores when they opened, "and they were equally silent about the closing. Hennion would not comment on how the stores performed or whether the Ativa concept will be tried elsewhere."

>> Worldwide athletic apparel supplier Russell Athletic, the flagship brand of Russell Corp. (NYSE:RML), was awarded the Apparel Vendor of the Year from Modell's, the nation's oldest family-owned sporting goods retailer. This is the second consecutive year Russell Athletic has received this award. Criteria for an award includes quality, service, sales and profit margins.

>> Recently in Europe,SNEWS was booked into the Moevenpick Hotel at the Zurich Airport in Switzerland. Upon entering, we noted a curtained section of the room. Naturally curious what was hiding in the SNEWS room, we pulled it aside to find a stationary bike (by Ergo-Fit) on a platform that can be moved around the room (we imagine so a user could position it in front of the TV) and some bars on the wall for stretching with several laminated pages of stretching instructions hanging from the bars. Turns out we'd been put in a so-called "Well-being Room" that also included a yoga sitting cushion, an incense burner and other niceties. There was a relaxation chair that was curved for best relaxation of the back. Of course, we laid back in it, only to immediately fall off the chair. So much for relaxation, but three cheers for the room!

>> The Nautilus Group Inc. (NYSE: NLS) has announced the first Nautilus Alliance Premier Club to open in southern China. The Zone Action Health Club in Guangzhou will open later this month. Nautilus USA will be providing on-site training for local staff as well as programs such as Effective Weight Management, Cellulite Solutions, Golf Fit and Delay the Onset of Aging. Zone Action Club is the project invested by Grand Yield Investment Inc., a Hong Kong-based company filled with professional club establishment and management staffs.

>> The Munich, Germany-based, sporting goods trade show ispo has announced the dates for the coming ispo summer and ispo winter events for the next three years. ispo summer will start the first Sunday in July and last three days, and ispo winter will start the first Sunday in February for a four-day run. ispo winter dates: 2004, Feb. 1-4; 2005, Feb. 6-9; 2006, Feb. 5-8. ispo summer dates: 2004, July 4-6; 2005, July 3-5; 2006, July 2-4. More at www.ispo.com.

>> A Harris Interactive survey in September found that U.S. adults interested in fitness also turn to snow sports for those needs in the winter. Those sports include skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding. According to a recent Harris Interactive online survey of 2,450 Americans, ages 18 and over, 7 percent participated in a snow sports activity (downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or snowboarding) in the last two years. Yet, three times as many adult Americans -- 21 percent of the total -- say they would be more inclined to try snow sports if they knew more about their health and fitness benefits. Participants also said they'd be more inclined to participate in other activities if they knew more about their health and fitness benefits. SNEWS View: What does this mean to fitness? No, you don't want to lose your customers and users to the slopes, but people certainly don't get to the slopes or snow for everyday fitness. Yet they also need some fitness base to enjoy those activities even more. Perhaps winter promotions that clued users in to the benefits of indoor fitness and its benefit to enjoying those winter activities more could be an avenue to consider.

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