>> Iron Grip Barbell Company has entered into a licensing relationship with Nautilus Group Inc. Iron Grip has granted Nautilus the right to sell certain weight plates with three handgrips under its U.S. Patent 6,436,015. Iron Grip also recently entered into a similar license with TKO Sports Group Inc.
>> The Federal Trade Commission has targeted products that make spectacular, unresearched and fraudulent claims about weight loss. Last week, it released a media guide to help media recognize problems. The program, called its "Red Flag" education campaign, is aimed to help members of the media and others voluntarily screen out weight-loss product ads containing claims that are "too good to be true." (To see the full FTC report in PDF format, click here.) "Fraudulent weight-loss products target people desperate to lose weight and willing to try almost anything," said Federal Trade Commission Chairman Timothy Muris in an official statement. "Despite claims to the contrary, there are no magic bullets or effortless ways to burn fat. Claims for diet products or programs that promise weight loss without sacrifice or effort are bogus. And some can even be dangerous." SNEWS View: Although the campaign does not target exercise equipment, we think manufacturers should beware. The FTC is starting to look more closely at claims in general.
>> No, Affordable Fitness Equipment in Oviedo, Fla., near Orlando hasn't gone bankrupt, its owner Bart Cappabianca told SNEWS. He and his wife have, however, filed for a Ch. 13 personal bankruptcy, but the store is open, none of his suppliers are listed as creditors, and his numbers are in fact up this year, he told us. The filing -- on Nov. 26 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida -- is under a chapter that allows individuals who have a certain income to reorganize their financial affairs under a trustee-administered three- to five-year repayment program so the wage-earner can get back on his or her feet. "It was a tough decision to make, to do this," said Cappabianca, who blamed the tight spot on credit cards. "I really underestimated what it took to get started." Formerly of NordicTrack (six years) and the old Busy Body (four years), he said closing the store is not part of the plan, and he will incorporate his specialty fitness business next month. The nearly 3-year-old store carries, for example, Precor, Horizon, Powertec and PowerBlock.
>> Meanwhile, in Florida, a note to keep an eye on Gyms To Go/Busy Body: Carlos Vasquez and Jon Larkin this year alone have opened FIVE new locations to take them to 13 total stores in South Florida and Georgia. Growth not to stop there, we hear. Maybe Busy Body West and Busy Body East will slowly migrate in opposite directions until they meet in the middle?
>> Precor adds new elliptical choices for home users, including a total-body model, with EFX5.17i CrossRamp (retail, $2,499) and EFX5.19 ($2,399) total-body models. The EFX 5.17i has four programmed courses including Manual, Gluteal and Weight Loss. The EFX5.19 Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer Ergonomic handlebars work in unison with the elliptical stride for a total-body workout with the ramp incline fixed at 20 degrees. It also has 20 resistance settings and courses include Manual, Hill, Weight Loss and an optional Heart Rate Control.
>> InSport performance apparel manufacturer has announced it has been awarded a contract to meet the performance demands of the elite Navy SEALs. Under the contract, InSport will build the Navy SEALs' next-generation combat clothing ensemble, known as the Protective Combat Uniform, or PCU. Seven InSport garment styles were crafted to outfit the Navy SEAL teams. Unlike most military-specific clothing, InSport will offer these products designed specifically for the Navy SEALS to the public and other branches of the U.S. Military through its retailers and website at www.insport.com.
>> GERMANY -- The Winter ispo sporting goods trade show in Germany, Feb. 1-4, 2004, is sold out. More than 1,600 exhibitors from more than 40 countries are expected to set up shop in February at the Munich Trade Fair. The entire 160,000 square meters (1.7 million square feet) of the expo hall as well as the ICM are already completely booked. Show management said it also expects yet another jump from attendees from outside of Germany, with a large increase from the middle and eastern European countries. For more on the show, go to www.ispo.com.
>> Fitness industry veteran Lu Rasmussen has joined Precor in the newly created position of director of leasing. Rasmussen will launch a leasing program for the company and its dealers. Rasmussen most recently was in a leasing management role with Life Fitness. Prior to that, he was in fitness equipment sales with Life Fitness and Star Trac, and for 12 years was general manager of a health and fitness facility.
>> GERMANY -- adidas-Salomon AG has announced it will further strengthen its adidas North America efforts by moving key global marketing functions and personnel to its U.S. headquarters in Portland, Ore. Erich Stamminger, executive board member of adidas-Salomon who is responsible for global marketing, will assume additional responsibility for North America, as president and CEO of adidas America Inc. Stamminger, who will relocate to Portland, will continue to report to Herbert Hainer, chairman and CEO of adidas-Salomon AG. Stamminger, 46, draws on 20 years of experience with adidas, serving since January 2000 as head of global marketing. Before, he was in charge of various management functions within the regional and global organization. Prior to his current position, he was responsible for the adidas-Salomon business in Region Europe, the company's biggest region, from 1995 to 1999, and Region Asia/Pacific, the company's fastest growing region, from 1997 to 1999. In March 1997, he joined adidas-Salomon's executive board. Ross McMullin, adidas America CEO and executive board member of adidas-Salomon, who was on leave of absence due to health reasons, has resigned from all positions at adidas-Salomon.
>> Contrary to popular opinion, the holiday season doesn't end on Christmas Day, the National Retail Federation points out. The federation estimates that the week after Christmas accounts for 10 percent of holiday sales, when consumers flock to the stores to redeem gift cards and hunt for great discounts. Many shoppers will also be heading back to the stores to return damaged merchandise, too-small sweaters, or duplicate gifts. NRF estimates that between 4 percent and 6 percent of gifts are returned. "Retailers don't want to alienate their loyal customers by making their return policies too strict, but they also need to create policies that discourage return fraud," said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin.
>> According to numerous news sources, December may have come in like a retail sales lamb but may go out like a lion. Retail sales rose 0.9 percent in November, higher than the 0.7 percent rise economists expected, as consumers rushed to buy cars, electronics and appliances, clothes, and health and beauty products. Industry observers say the late Thanksgiving combined with a last-minute surge of buying before Christmas could lead to a banner December.
>> efi Sports Medicine's Gravity System has named some of the first clubs to adapt the program. They include: Crunch Fitness -- Mission Viejo, Calif.; Fit Stop -- Albany, N.Y.; Jungle Club -- Vero Beach, Fla.; Jewish Community Center -- Albany, N.Y.; Body Basics -- Boise, Idaho; St. Simons Health & Fitness -- St. Simon's Island, Ga.; Cleburne Fitness Center -- Cleburne, Texas; Hollywood YMCA -- Hollywood, Calif.; Blount Memorial Hospital -- Alcoa, Tenn.; Progressive Fitness -- San Diego, Calif.; and Cox Health & Wellness -- Springfield, Mo.
>> The Wacoal Sports Science Corp. is introducing the next generation in anatomically engineered performance apparel with the launch of CW-X Pro Conditioning Tops for men, and Pro Conditioning Tights for men and women. The CW-X Pro Conditioning Tops represent the first use of the company's patented Conditioning Web technology for the upper body. They feature a proprietary exoskeleton to support the major muscles that control upper body mobility and posture. The first Expert Conditioning Tights are available at more than 200 retailers and running shops nationally. Wacoal Sports Science has been issued patents for CW-X technology in Japan and Europe, with 15 patents in the United States alone. For more, go to www.cw-x.com.
>> ITALY -- The Panatta Sport Research Centre, a division of the Italian fitness supplier, Panatta Sport, has launched a three-month study into children's group cycling. Working with a hospital and a medical research center in Rome, the research will involve 30 overweight children aged 4 to 12 years old. The study will assess the effects of group cycling mixed with team games on the children's weight and also monitor which mix of activities motivate the children most. Working out three times a week, the children will use Panatta Sport Yukari bikes and take part in team games. Exercises will be gradually increased from 20 to 45 minutes of cycling and from 40 to 60 minutes of games. "Children usually get bored on a stationary bike, dropping out after the first few lessons," said Panatta Sport's Ruben Tomassoni. "The aim of this research is to find a new way of training children with bikes, that benefits their health, but is also fun."
>> A recently conducted survey by IHRSA of 13 leading U.S. health and sports club companies has found that commercial health club financial performance improved for the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2003, relative to the same period last year. The survey found that companies grew their total revenue an average of 14.3 percent to an average of $18.1 million in revenue for the quarter. The participating companies also reported improving same-store revenue, revenue for clubs that have been in operation for at least two years, by an average of 4.2 percent to $14 million. The survey found that the average earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and rent (EBITDAR) grew by 15.5 percent to $6.4 million. As a percentage of total revenue, EBITDAR improved slightly, representing 35.3 percent of revenue in the third quarter of 2003 as compared to 34.8 percent of revenues for the same period in 2002.
>> The National Academy of Sports Medicine has decided to undertake a program review conducted by the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) and has applied to its accompanying accreditation body, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). NASM is pursuing similar processes through other accreditation organizations as well, including the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Register of Exercise Professionals (REP). All of these bodies are committed to ensuring that public health standards, policies and procedures are followed through a thorough review of education and an evaluation of practices.
>> UNITED KINGDOM -- Between 1994 and 2000, participation trends for general fitness activities in the United Kingdom have shown large increases in running -- up 23 percent to more than 4.4 million participants. The same research noted that 5.2 million said they participated in weights/working out (with no comparison to 1994 since that category was not measured then), and nearly 4.9 million said they took part in "aerobics/keep fit" activities, which was down 5 percent over 1994.