>> Not that SNEWS watches such trendy programs as "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Naaaah. But if you saw the one about the guy who lost 100 pounds and was getting a TV makeover, you'll see the Fab 5 take him to the New York Sports Club, discuss some workout components with a rather dull trainer, then watch him do some assisted pull-ups on a Cybex piece. Boy, exposure you couldn't buy -- a pan across the back of the piece with the big bold words CYBEX across the middle of the screen. Wonder how many viewers saw that?
>> Something for equipment manufacturers to pay attention to are the results of a recent study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The study found that if you listen to up-tempo music OF YOUR OWN CHOOSING, you get a better workout. On a stationary bike workout used in the study, for example, subjects pedaled faster, produced more power output, and their hearts beat faster with their own fast-paced beat than when they listened to slow-tempo music or sounds that had no tempo. "People are going to work about 5 percent to 15 percent harder when they are listening to up-tempo music," said lead author John Porcari, a UW-La Crosse professor of exercise and sports science. "It shifts their focus. They are caught up in the music, and they work harder." Here's the conundrum, however: In gyms and other workout settings, you may not get to choose your own music. You have to listen to what's piped in, what a teacher chooses and likes, or perhaps the beat of the class in the next room makes it impossible to hear your own tunes on a headset anyway. That's where it seems equipment like bikes and treadmills that allow a user to easily be enveloped in his or her own choice of music may actually encourage a workout and make it more effective. For the study, 20 graduate student volunteers were told to produce their own list of 13 songs ranging from slow to fast tempo. Using MP3 players, the researchers mixed the selections with the "no tempo" sounds of waves crashing. The volunteers then were told to ride exercise bikes for an hour while they listened to the selections with headphones. Their average heart rates increased with the tempo of the music: 133 beats per minute for no tempo; 140 bpm for slow tempo; and 146 bpm for medium and fast tempo. Power output on the bikes as measured in watts also increased: 111 watts for no tempo; 121 for slow; 127 for medium; and 130 for fast. The study was presented at the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation annual meeting. Note: Watching television seems to work in the opposite manner. A 1996 study of a small group of women found they worked out about 5 percent harder when they weren't watching TV than when they were.
>> Life Fitness Vice President for Business Development and Strategic Planning Dave Gibbons has left the company, effective Nov. 4. According to the company, he left "to pursue other business interests." He was responsible for new business development, implementation of the company's long-term strategic plan and market research. He also led commercial and consumer product management on a global basis, including all cardiovascular, strength training, flexibility and Pilates products. "For the past three years, Dave has played an integral role as part of the company's senior management team. We appreciate his contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors," the company told us. Steve Lenz, vice president of engineering, will take over some of the duties on an interim basis to keep product development on track. Life Fitness has said it will have a new structure in place by early 2004.
>> Tom Ouren has left Hoist Fitness, where he was the longtime central regional sales manager, to head up the commercial sales division at Fitness HQ. "It's going to be hard to replace him," said a Hoist spokesman about the amicable departure last week.
>> GERMANY -- adidas-Salomon has reported currency-neutral sales for the group in the third quarter grew 6 percent. On a reported basis, however, third quarter sales were slightly lower than the level achieved in 2002. During the first nine months, sales increased 7 percent on a currency-neutral basis. This represents a decline of 2 percent in reported terms from Euro 5.0 billion in 2002 to Euro 4.9 billion in 2003. Sales were driven mostly by growth in Europe, Asia and Latin America. In addition, gross margin increased by 0.7 points to 44.1 percent, while operating margin was up 0.9 points to 9.1 percent. The company has also announced some personnel changes: Karl-Heinz Maurath, currently head of Area Nordic within adidas Region Europe, will take over the position of head of adidas Region Latin America as of Dec. 15. Patrik Nilsson, currently head of adidas Global Sport Heritage Division, will succeed Karl-Heinz Maurath as head of Area Nordic as of Dec. 1. Nilsson's role in the Sport Heritage Division will be assumed by Hermann Deininger, currently adidas head of Global Strategic Business Development. Lionel Ortega, currently head of Region Latin America, will leave adidas in order to pursue new personal challenges. For more information about this company or its financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS® Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.
>> Copeland Sports will open another store in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend that will be built around "7 Performance Shops in One," as the company called it. The layout takes equipment, accessories, footwear and apparel and features them in seven distinct performance shops: athletics, fitness, outdoor, golf, cycling, women's and skateboard/snowboard. The 37,000-square-foot store will also offer services and programs such as bike repair, professional golf instruction, home delivery, team discounts, ski rental, and home gym design and layout advice. The store will be in El Cerrito.
>> Town Sports International has announced for the quarter ended Sept. 30 that revenues were $86.7 million, an increase of $5.5 million, or 6.7 percent over the same quarter of 2002. During the quarter, revenue at TSI's mature clubs (those in operation for 24 months or longer) decreased by $344,000 or 0.5 percent. During the quarter, same club revenue at clubs opened over 12 months increased 2.2 percent. Operating income for the quarter was $10.9 million compared to $9.8 million in the third quarter of 2002, while net interest expense increased to $6.6 million from $4.1 million. The company recorded net income for the quarter of $2.3 million compared to net income of $2.8 million for the comparable period in the prior year. The company's EBITDA increased by 12.4 percent to $19.7 million from $17.5 million in last year's quarter. EBITDA margin improved to 22.7 percent in the quarter ended from 21.5 percent in 2002. Town Sports owns and operates 129 health clubs in major cities from Washington, D.C., through New England.
>>The Sears American Dream Campaign (SADC) is partnering with Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), United Way of America and local United Way organizations serving fire-ravaged California communities to aid families impacted by the recent wildfires. SADC will donate family apparel valued at nearly $1 million that will be distributed to families most affected. The merchandise is currently being shipped into impacted areas and will be distributed as soon as receiving and sorting have been completed. Sears (NYSE: S) is also providing local United Ways with more than $40,000 in Sears Gift Cards to help impacted families purchase items needed to re-outfit their homes and families. Additionally, Sears Portrait Studios is set to help families in impacted communities replace cherished photographs. Sears Portrait Studios generally archives film for six months. Families who have had a recent sitting and whose film is still being archived may order free replacement photographs.
>> Sport Chalet Inc. (Nasdaq: SPCH) has announced that sales for its second quarter ended Sept. 30 increased from $56.3 million last year to $61.8 million this year, a 9.8 percent increase. The increase is the result of opening two stores in late November 2002, aided by a same store sales increase of 3.7 percent. The gross profit margin increased to 29.9 percent, compared to 29.8 percent in the second quarter of last year, as a result of the company's continued focus on inventory management which yielded lower markdowns. Selling, general and administrative expenses, as a percentage of sales, decreased from 25.5 percent for the three months the same quarter last year to 25.2 percent for this year's quarter, primarily a result of higher same store sales. As a result, net income increased 22 percent from $1.4 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, in the second quarter last year to $1.7 million, or $0.25 per diluted share. For more information about this company or its financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS® Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.
>> Final Club Industry trade show numbers that are being given out: Attendees, including exhibitors, approximately 7,500; 240 total exhibitors (including approximately a dozen from the concurrent Medical Fitness Association Conference); total square footage 87,650, which is only about 2.6 percent less than last year's reported 90,000 with 230 booths. SNEWS View: The number of companies was up, while the square footage and total booths were down, indicating further consolidation and economy-driven downsizing. We expect there will be a couple of other independent booths that could be MIA by next year -- bought up by other larger companies.
>> Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) reported net sales for the four-week period ending Oct. 31 of $19.066 billion, an increase of 11.8 percent over the $17.051 billion in the similar period in the prior year. Sales for the 39-week period were $182.312 billion, an increase of 11.3 percent over $163.806 billion in the similar period in the prior year. For more information about this company or its financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS® Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.
>> One of these days we'll get to have a week without more distressing obesity news. But that week is not this one: Last week the state of California reported that most of the state's students are failing fitness tests, with only one in four scoring well enough to be considered fit. Of the 1.3 million fifth-, seventh- and ninth-grade students tested last spring statewide, very few actually passed in all six areas tested. Those areas include cardiovascular endurance, body fat percentage, upper body strength and overall flexibility. The state called the results "discouraging." SNEWS View: No kidding. And this in the state that has the most opportunities, it seems, both indoors and out. We aren't only discouraged, we are utterly depressed.