Fitness: Did you hear?...

Fitness manufacturers send equipment to the Middle East, NY Sports Club goes 24 hour, Amer Group's new German offices, citywide cooperative gym membership in Glasgow, Matrix talks turkey in Oregon, Sport Chalet marches into Northern California, and more...
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>> Some fitness manufacturers are on the frontlines … literally … as their treadmills, bikes, weights and gyms end up in the Middle East for soldiers' workouts when they're off-duty. In fact, now the government is apparently setting up entire gyms in large tents in the desert, adding even more equipment from a bevy of companies. For example, Hoist Fitness Systems described to us the 32-foot-by-16-foot temporary tents. That company will have a full circuit going in each at about seven different bases, including Oman, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Egypt and Baghdad. It also just shipped a bunch of three-way Olympic benches. Iron Grip also last month scrambled to fill a late-breaking order: That company sent 120,000 pounds (yikes!) that filled three ships' containers with iron on 54 pallets. Included were enough weight sets, bars, plates and collars to outfit about 20 gyms. That adds to the previous order that was enough for 13 gyms. Others? Star Trac has also sent equipment recently, and in August actually got back a few treadmills after their "tour of duty." Still in great shape we hear, but well-used. Life Fitness also has Life and Hammer Strength equipment in military installations in the Middle East, including Iraq, as well as Kuwait, Afghanistan and Qatar. Heck, the soldiers are even rowing in the sand on Concept2 rowers! Guess if a company wants to test its equipment's durability, this could do it.

>> In the city that never sleeps at night, they'll finally be able to workout whenever they want: New York Sports Clubs has announced plans to open its first 24-hour club, located in Manhattan. As of Jan. 1, the New York Sports Clubs located at 7th Avenue at 10th Street (Sheridan Square) will be open 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday. A special $29 monthly "Night Owl" membership rate will be available for those using the club between 11:00 p.m. and 5 a.m.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- LA Fitness, which up to now has focused on the older end of the exercise market, is now going to target the under-12s. The club operator has revealed plans that could see the group's 66 clubs adopt a local primary school in an attempt to foster healthier lifestyles among the young. Fred Turok, chief executive, said the initiative, part of a wider program of the UK's Fitness Industry Association, was aimed at encouraging regular exercise at an early age.

>> In an interview with the German trade magazine sport+mode, the managing director of Germany's Amer Group showed off the new headquarters in a suburb of Munich to the magazine -- a spacious building that houses not only Precor, but also Atomic, Wilson and Suunto. Plenty of room to grow in offices as well as empty space on the front entrance sign for additional plaques. Each brand has its own showroom too, it seems. When asked about numbers being in the red for Precor in Germany, Manager Otto Steffel told the publication: "Internationally, Precor is a highly profitable business. In Germany, Precor first had to build the brand and, of course, because of that in this first phase invested more than usual. But in 2003 we'll already be seeing numbers in the black."

>> Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported record single-day sales for Friday, Nov. 28 -- the day after Thanksgiving otherwise known as Black Friday to retailers -- of more than $1.52 billion at the company's domestic Wal-Mart stores, Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets. This compares to the $1.43 billion recorded for the similar post Thanksgiving Day in 2002.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- Glasgow has received a fitting tribute as the city approaches the end of its year as the European Capital of Sport. Local Liz Cameron will be one of the first recipients of a new European award for her work in promoting sport and fitness in Glasgow. The award was initiated by the Italian Movimento Sport Azzurro in partnership with the Spanish-based Movimento Deportivo Popular Internacional and Mouvement Sportif Populaire Eurpéen and is to be awarded annually for individuals who improve the health and quality of life of their citizens. Look at this: Glasgow City Council runs one of the UK's biggest sport and recreation services with a GBP 35.5 million budget (USD $ 61 million). Its commitment to developing grassroots level participation in sport and recreation and the success of its GP Exercise Referral Scheme was key to winning the title of European Capital of Sport 2003. Launched by the council this year was Glasgow Club, which offers membership to 17 health and fitness facilities across the city for GBP 32 (USD $55) a month with no enrollment fee. The club currently has around 13,000 members. SNEWS View: Now isn't that a grand cooperative idea.

>> In November, 11 clubs in the Oregon Gold's Gyms Alliance and Matrix Fitness Systems are conducting the "Ton of Turkey" campaign which could donate more than 10,000 pounds of Thanksgiving food to families in need, according to David Faxon, co-owner of Gold's Gyms in McMinnville and Newberg, Ore. Last year, Faxon's McMinnville club gathered 2,135 pounds of holiday birds. This 2003 campaign is the first year all 11 clubs in the Oregon network will participate. The turkeys were to be delivered to a variety of community organizations including the Salvation Army, Yamhill County Assistance Program and the Lane County Food Bank. Participating Gold's clubs are located in Bend, Corvallis, Gresham, McMinnville, Newberg, Roseburg, Salem, Albany, Keizer, Springfield and Eugene. More than 1,000 club members and local businesses are expected to make donations.

>> PowerBar has expanded its product line to cash in on the growing low-carbohydrate fad, with PowerBar Carb Select product to be shipped in early 2004. New PowerBar Pria and PowerBar ProteinPlus Carb Select were formulated specifically for those watching carbs or, as PowerBar put it, those "who are seeking a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise." (?) SNEWS View: Can't say it's not smart for PowerBar to dance with this trend -- although it's certainly one we can't begin to figure out.

>> Sport Chalet Inc. (Nasdaq:SPCH) is celebrating the grand opening of its new 42,500-square-foot store, which includes an on-site pool, at the Slatten Ranch shopping center, in the city of Antioch, Calif., east of San Francisco on the perimeter of the Bay Area. This is the company's 30th location. This opening marks Sport Chalet's introduction to Northern California. But it won't stop there. It will also open a 42,000-square-foot store in December in Sacramento at Country Club Plaza. Next year, Sport Chalet will continue its expansion into Northern California with new locations in the Sacramento-area communities of Roseville and Elk Grove. Sport Chalet was founded in 1959 with stores in California and Nevada.

>> Sears expected its on-line properties to surpass the $5 million mark for one-day sales for the first time this Thanksgiving Day weekend, indicating sites such as Sears.com and Landsend.com may have their busiest holiday season on record. Officials said they expected Sears.com to generate 40 percent more sales this year than it did in 2002. Fueling those sales will be a new twist for Sears.com shoppers. For the first time, Sears.com will offer post-Thanksgiving sale prices on select advertised items on Thanksgiving Day.

>> Your commute got you down? Listen up, 66 percent of senior executives spend less than 60 minutes daily commuting to and from work. Thirty-seven percent of respondents to a recent survey by the Net Future Institute spend less than 30 minutes commuting, and 29 percent spend 31 to 60 minutes. The majority of the remaining senior executives and managers spend one to two hours commuting. But many aren't working: Nearly three of four say during their commute they listen to the radio and music. Fifty-four percent spend their commute time thinking and 44 percent spend their time on the phone. Senior executives and managers in organizations with fewer than 500 employees appear to spend the least amount of time commuting. Seventy-seven percent of respondents in companies with fewer than 500 employees commute less than 60 minutes compared to 62 percent in companies with 500 to 9,999 employees. SNEWS View: Hope you're at least on your bikes part of the time -- or walking briskly -- if you're stuck in the commute grind.

>> So as you're patting your rounder post-Thanksgiving belly, here is news to ponder: From the golden, roasted turkey to the buttery mashed potatoes to the slice of homemade pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving can mean 3,000 calories in one meal, not to mention all the snacking and drinks that can lead to a total calorie intake of 4,500, according to Cedric Bryant, ACE chief exercise physiologist. "To burn off a 3,000-calorie Thanksgiving Day meal, a 160-pound person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours or walk for 30 miles," he added. What a thought. Let's see, that's a rather up-tempo marathon … or more. Got marathon?

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