Fitness: Did you hear?

Ilan Katz leaves Fitness HQ, Men's Health and Iron Grip give away metal, Fitness Direct has a second store, Hoist's Prime 8 "no bigger than a La-Z-Boy, Dick's third-quarter earnings up, and much more…
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>> Ilan Katz, former vice president at Fitness Headquarters, has left the company as of Oct. 31 and moved to the Miami area. His goal, he told SNEWS, is to open his own specialty fitness store in the area and to do it his way. We're sure we'll hear more soon from Katz, who started in specialty fitness about 11 years ago as a salesperson who hardly knew his dumbbells from his barbells.

>> As a part of its promotional partnership with Men's Health magazine, Iron Grip is giving away "some serious metal," as the promotion calls it. Anyone can enter a sweepstakes drawing to win a strength-training package worth nearly $1,700, including Iron Grip weights and bars, as well as a Body-Solid bench. To take a look (or enter!), go to: www.MensHealth.com/metal. The contest ends Dec. 31.

>> SportsArt America has recently hired Stanwood & Partners Public Relations based in Jackson, Wyo., to assist the company with marketing plans and public relations. With this agreement, Stanwood & Partners will be responsible for all public relations efforts for the SportsArt brand as it increases exposure in all categories of media. SportsArt began in 1977 as an OEM manufacturer and began producing fitness equipment under its own brand name in 1996.

>> Travis Hitt, owner of MDS (Manufacturers Direct Services) based in the San Diego, Calif., area will change his company name to Bighorn 2 Inc. as of next week. He will continue to be a full-service sales and marketing company specializing in fitness and sporting goods. Hitt founded the company about six years ago after working at both Bell Sports and Wilson Sporting Goods.

>> Fitness Direct, a San Diego, Calif.-based, specialty retailer, recently opened a second store in Oceanside, Calif.

>> What not to do: Rollout a new company and send mailings for it BEFORE the website URL that is printed on the mailings is live. Ouch. We got a postcard promoting Life Movement Centers, which will exhibit at the Athletic Business conference the first week of December in Orlando, Fla. Curious, we went to check it out. Nothing. Not found. And the picture looked pretty nifty, too. Oh well….

>> efi Sports Medicine has hired Susanne Bankhead to coordinate its training programs for its Gravity program. The classes -- a cross between strength-training and Pilates -- have launched in 15 clubs nationally with a few in Europe, too.

>> A few highlights from SGMA's Sports Apparel Monitor (2003 edition): One, the retail sports apparel market in 2002 was $37.2 billion, up from $36 billion in 2001, and the size of this market for the first half of 2003 was $17.1 billion; two, while average prices per garment have dropped significantly (-11.7 percent), a strong increase in per unit consumption (up 17.2 percent) led to a slight jump (up 3.5 percent) in overall sports apparel retail sales; and, three, women spend more money on sports apparel than men, though men purchase more items/units (well, this is a big DUH). The full report for those into threads is available by clicking here.

>> Hoist's Prime 8 strength system showed up in the October issue of Men's Journal with a caption stating that it was "no bigger than a La-Z-boy." Whoooa boy, that got the men going -- heck, exercise combined with the vision of kicking back in a La-Z-boy all at once? Now, that's a dream, we guess. Seems Hoist had eight to 10 calls a day for a few weeks asking about the piece.

>> Powerhouse Gyms Licensing LLC has renewed its membership with IHRSA through 2004, making Powerhouse the only large gym chain to provide each of its individual licensees with membership in IHRSA. The Michigan-based company has 300 facilities in 39 states and eight countries that bear the Powerhouse Gyms trademark. Powerhouse Gyms is a sponsor of the 2004 IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show, which is being held March 22-25 in Las Vegas.

>> Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) has reported sales and earnings for the third quarter ended Nov. 1, with net income increased 68 percent to $4.7 million and earnings per share increased 29 percent to $0.18 per diluted share as compared to net income of $2.8 million and earnings per share of $0.14 per diluted share for the quarter ended Nov. 2, 2002. Total sales for the quarter increased 16 percent to $338.2 million. Comparable store sales increased 2.5 percent compared to a 5.1 percent comparable store sales increase in the prior year. During the third quarter, the company opened 11 new stores. Five of these stores were in new markets: Watertown, N.Y.; Plattsburgh, N.Y.; Waterford, Conn.; Roanoke, Va.; and Charlottesville, Va. Six of the stores opened were in existing markets: Garner, N.C. (the fifth store in the Raleigh/Durham market); Short Pump, Va. (the third store in the Richmond market); Manassas, Va., and Waldorf, Md. (the second and third stores in the Washington, D.C., market); Millbury, Mass. (the second store in the Worcester market); and Smithfield, R.I. (the third store in the Providence market). As of Nov. 1, 2003, the company operates 162 stores in 27 states. 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.

>> Recapping a visit to one Sport Chalet store in the Orange County, Calif., area: We walk in, are greeted cheerily and promptly by cashiers. Super start. We wander the store, perusing equipment in the fitness area for, oh, five to eight minutes. No one bothers to ask us if we need help. Finally, one guy bustles by, obviously on his way somewhere and busy (or at least trying to look busy and bustling) and says without a pause to his hurried steps: "How you guys doing?" Our SNEWS shopper, most definintly of the female gender, looks around, wondering who else came along to warrant the "you guys." Hm. Nobody. Still alone. We wander the store for another 10- to 12 minutes. Finally someone in footwear asks if we need any help. After 20 minutes and a saunter through nearly every department, we leave without much satisfaction with our retail experience.

>> On a positive retail note: We wander into a Busy Body, also in the Orange County area. The cheery and friendly staffer asks us and another woman shopping if we need any help. The other woman says "I'm looking for a Lifecycle." Busy Body doesn't carry the Lifecycle, of course, being a Precor stronghold. But the staffer didn't miss a beat, saying simply, "You ought to look at this great bike, and it's a great price too," quickly showing her a Precor and Diamondback and leading her to some others, emphasizing their benefits. Then she inquired why the woman wanted a Lifecycle so she could better assess her needs. Great work!

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