Fitness: Did you hear?...

Lifecycle wins design award, EU trade fight with U.S. erupts, Puma earnings golden, home gyms featured on CNN, Gaiam promises new business strategies will help 2004 move ahead, got a super-sized body to go with that super-sized soda?, and more…
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>> The 95Ci Lifecycle bike has won the Good Design award from The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design. The bike was designed with Life Fitness by Cesaroni Design Associates. The Museum's Good Design program was founded in 1950 by pioneers of American and modern design and is one of the oldest and most important design competitions in the world. This year, the museum awarded more than 200 Good Design designations in categories including automotive, electronics and household appliances. The products were judged on form, function and innovation. The 95Ci, which was introduced in 2002, will be part of the Good Design Show/Exhibition April 3 to June 13 at The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, Schaumburg, Ill.

>> BELGIUM -- A trade fight between Europe and the United States has broken out that could mean several hundreds of millions of dollars to American businesses this year alone. The European Union has imposed sanctions on the United States for the first time as of March 1 as a dispute over tax breaks for U.S. firms turned into a trade war. The lower tax rates for exports for firms, including Boeing and Microsoft, were judged an illegal subsidy by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which ruled the EU could impose $4 billion in sanctions a year on U.S. goods. But European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy decided to apply gradual pressure by phasing in the measures, which will hit a wide range of goods, including textiles, jewelry and toys. The sanctions are intended to prod the U.S. Congress quickly to replace the tax breaks with measures in line with WTO rules. They start at $16 million as an extra 5 percent duty on selected U.S. products in March and rise by one percent a month to $315 million in 2004 and $666 million if they run throughout 2005. "The EU's objective remains the withdrawal of the U.S. illegal subsidy," the Commission said in a statement. "The EU has opted for a response which is measured, gradual and geared toward focusing the mind of the U.S. legislature to comply."

>> Plus One Health Management, a New York-based design consultant and manager of corporate fitness and spa facilities, has announced plans for six new corporate fitness centers by the end of the first quarter of 2004. These corporate fitness centers will include five Fortune 500 companies and a premier Capital Management firm. Included in the group of companies is a large pharmaceutical firm in Seattle, Wash.; three large investment banks in New York; and a very large manufacturing company in Princeton, N.J. Plus One currently operates nationwide for seven of the 10 largest investment banks in the country, plus law firms, media companies and pharmaceutical companies, and luxury spas at the Plaza Hotel and The Waldorf Astoria Hotel. www.plusone.com

>> GERMANY -- Puma AG reported that Q4 consolidated sales increased by 27.1 percent to Euro 227.7 million ($271.1 million), or up 35.4 percent on a currency neutral basis. Apparel grew 17.6 percent to Euro 68.8 million ($81.9 million), or up 26.4 percent currency adjusted. Footwear sales grew by 27.5 percent to Euro 140.4 million ($167.2 million), or 33.7 percent currency adjusted, and accessories increased 76.7 percent to Euro 18.5 million ($22.0 million), or 82.6 percent currency adjusted. Full year 2003 sales grew by 40.0 percent jumping from Euro 909.8 million ($860.6 million) to Euro 1.27 billion ($1.44 billion). Currency-adjusted sales growth was as high as 48.4 percent. The unadjusted organic growth before first-time consolidation was 30.7 percent and 39.0 percent after currency adjustment. Sales in the United States rose by 42.4 percent to $255.4 million, with all the company's product segments contributed to the result with double-digit growth rates. Due to the weak U.S. dollar, sales in Euro currency rose by 18.8 percent. 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

>> Iron Grip Barbell Company has launched a new corporate website at www.irongrip.com. The redesigned site's features are intended to complement the company's current advertising campaign. In addition, the site's navigation has been improved to allow easier browsing of product lines and site resources. Iron Grip has also added a new area on the site, "Resources & Tools," where customers can download a variety of materials to help them research and select Iron Grip equipment. The section includes color brochures, complete commercial price lists, equipment care guides, warranty information, leasing options, and its eWeight Planner software tool. The revamped site also includes a searchable database of Iron Grip's U.S. and International authorized dealers.

>> Home gyms made the news last week. A story on cnn.com talked about the growth of strength training and pictured what our spies seem to think is a very old Cal Gym. What do you think? Click here to see the whole story.

>> Gaiam Inc. (NASDAQ: GAIA) has announced sales of $35.1 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2003, a decline of 5.7 percent from $37.3 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2002. Net income for the fourth quarter was $341 thousand or $0.02 per share compared to net income of $2.3 million or $0.16 per share for the same period of 2002. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2003, Gaiam reported sales of $102 million, a decline of 8.4 percent from $111.4 million for the same period in 2002. Gaiam recorded a net loss $972 thousand, or $0.07 per share for 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2003, compared to net income of $5.4 million or $0.38 per share for the same period in 2002. Gross margin for the fourth quarter was 50.3 percent, down from 52 percent for the year, primarily due to lower sales in the catalog division. "Our fourth quarter results were generally in line with our expectation. Sales in December were lower than expected, especially in catalogs. It was nice to see a positive operating income again, and the $2 million cash contribution from operations in the fourth quarter was above our expectation," said Jirka Rysavy, chairman and CEO. President Lynn Powers said that 2003 was a difficult year because of consolidation and changes to business strategy. She said the company doubled its sales force, added new product categories, launched new retail channels, reset store floor plans, consolidated operations and reduced expenses. 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

>> GERMANY -- Fitness walking is becoming the buzz in Germany, a country that used to chuckle at North Americans walking for exercise since they do it all the time for transportation. New Balance has launched a so-called Walking Cup that is touring to 25 retailers across the country from March through June to promote the fitness activity. And, of course, New Balance.

>> Ken Germano, president of the American Council on Exercise (ACE), has been selected by the Manhattan College Physical Education and Human Performance Department to receive its 2004 Distinguished Service Award. The award was presented to Germano on Feb. 27 in New York. 

>> Guess we're not only super-sizing our drinks but also our bodies in North America. According to a recent survey of bodies -- the most complete in five decades -- Americans are just plain bigger, particularly in the waist and hips. TC2, a company based in the Raleigh suburb of Cary, used light-pulsing and 3D scanner technology to measure some 10,000 Americans of all ages and ethnicities. The SizeUSA survey confirmed that all those extra French fries have come with a price. The study was funded by clothing manufacturers, the military, and colleges and universities. For example, size 8 has long been thought to represent the measurements of the average American woman. In the clothing industry, a size 8 officially is supposed to be a 35-inch bust, a 27-inch waist, and 37 1/2-inch hip. But in the survey, white women ages 18 to 25 came in, on average, at 38-32-41, with white women ages 36 to 45 coming in at 41-34-43. Ye-ooow. Or, should we say, mama mia. The last study of body sizes was a low-tech one in 1941. The 10,000 subjects for this study were grouped by gender, age and ethnicity. The survey also collected information such as zip code, annual household income, marital status, lifestyle, education, and employment status and clothing preferences. "From looking at the interim survey data, we can see the U.S. population has grown taller and heavier, but we are growing heavier faster than we are taller," researcher Jim Lovejoy said. "If you look at the grade rules for most manufacturers today, they do not reflect what we are finding in our size survey." For more, go to www.sizeusa.com. SNEWS View: No wonder, whether big or small, we can't seem to fit into clothes and DEFINITELY not into the same sizes of different brands.

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