Fitness: Did you hear?...

Even Carl Lewis can't name his home equipment brands, women and girls stoking the fires of fitness participation, IHRSA names new board, Mary Suhr to host national fitness radio show, fitness industry in Germany is looking at an upswing this year, Nautilus finishes some management re-organization, and much more...
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>> Settling into our seat last week on a flight home from D.C. for National PE Day lobbying (look for our upcoming story the week of May 11), we hear a hustle and bustle at the door. Olympic gold-medalist sprinter and long-jumper Carl Lewis is rushing in at the last second, also from taking part in PE Day. After taking a relieved breath because he made the flight, he claims his seat ... next to SNEWS®. After about two hours of chit-chat about the state of track today, the steroids scandal, his current acting career, and what he now does for workouts, among other things, we ask about his exercise equipment at home and what brands of equipment he has. "Let's see, Ivanko weights?" he says with a questioning tone. "Yes, that sounds right," we say. He looks relieved, as if he just passed a school quiz. "Ummm, Davis gym?" he asks next. SNEWS gives him a puzzled look, "Davis?" He looks skyward, as if looking for help, "David?" Then he lambasts himself for not knowing what he owns. "You have a bike or treadmill?" we ask, trying to get his mind off the home gym issue. "Yes, a treadmill," he says. But for the life of him he doesn't know the brand and that annoys him again. "I know it was really really expensive," he says. SNEWS names a few possible brands, but none click with him. "I just went into this store on Wilshire Boulevard and told them I wanted the best they had," he said. Before disembarking, he promises to email us the names. No word yet. But we'll let you know what we hear. And, no, we didn't get him to autograph our shoes. SNEWS® View: As we told Carl (yes, we're on a first-name basis now), it's a sad statement that there is so little brand awareness that even an Olympic athlete can stare at a treadmill console several times a week and not know the name on it.

>> Women and girls aren't slowing down in their participation in sports and fitness activities, according to just-out data from the National Sporting Goods Association. Among sports participants age 7 and older, females make up a majority of participants in four of six fitness activities surveyed for 2003 by the NSGA. After aerobic exercising (75 percent), females represented 50 percent or more of participants in exercise walking, working out at a club and exercising with equipment, where they represent 63 percent, 55 percent and 54 percent of participants, respectively. In the other primary fitness activity, running/jogging, women represent 46 percent of the participants. Only in weightlifting did the male stereotype ring true: Females fall far behind males in participation, with just 35 percent of weightlifters being women. Other activities in which women were a majority of the adult participants were t'ai chi/yoga (83 percent -- SNEWS® note: although these are two very different activities and really shouldn't be lumped together), kickboxing (81 percent) and swimming (53 percent). For the study, which is based on a survey of 20,000 U.S. households, a participant is defined as someone 7 years or older who participates in a sport more than once within the year. For swimming, exercise walking, bicycling, exercising with equipment, running/jogging, calisthenics and aerobics, a participant is defined as one who is active in a sport six times or more within the year. The report is available to NSGA members for $395, and to non-members for $475. For information and a complete chart, go to www.nsga.org.

>> Tom Cove, currently the SGMA's vice president of government affairs, has been elected executive vice president, a new position approved by the SGMA's board of directors at its meeting May 6. As a part of a succession plan for current President/CEO John Riddle, Cove will assume the presidency on Feb. 1, 2005. Cove joined SGMA in September 1991 to head the association's Washington, D.C., office. The scope of his activities has included global business ethics, international trade, intellectual property, public land use, tort reform, product safety, health and fitness promotion, urban recreation and youth sports programs. Cove has a master of public administration degree from George Washington University and an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Maryland. "I'm excited about the opportunity to continue to lead this trade association, which has played a prominent role in the sporting goods industry for nearly 100 years," said Cove. "One of our ongoing challenges is to motivate and encourage more Americans to engage in physical fitness activities on a regular basis. SGMA will continue to play a leadership role in a variety of industry issues, such as overseas trade, market research, counterfeiting, trade shows and lobbying." Riddle, who joined SGMA in 1988, will continue as president/CEO through January 2005. SNEWS® View: Knowing Cove quite well through our dealings with lobbying and governmental issues, we are excited about this appointment. Cove is enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable about what he does. He is fervent in his devotion to motivating and encouraging more Americans to be physically fit and how the government can help with that. We can't imagine any legislator not being bowled over by his passion, and we think this move could infuse a new energy into the SGMA as it moves to keep up with today's society and its needs.

>> IHRSA's board of directors has a new president -- Julie Main, general manager of the Santa Barbara Athletic Club -- and five new members as of July 1. Main replaces Tom Behan, co-founder and co-owner of the Alaska Club, as president, while Behan will serve in the new term as the board ex-officio. New board members are: Cyrus Oskoui, president of Columbia Athletic Clubs; Lloyd Gainsboro, director of business development for Dedham Health & Athletic Complex; Ed Williams, president and CEO of the Wellbridge Company; Tony DeLeede, managing director of Fitness First Australia; and Mike Motta, managing director of Plus One Fitness. Three members will end their service in July: Geoffrey Dyer, the board's outgoing ex-officio and president of Lifestyle Family Fitness Centers; Dean Wallace, president of Fitness West; and Sandy Franco, co-owner of Franco's Athletic Club.

>> Brunswick Corp. (NYSE: BC) is forming an umbrella organization to implement a comprehensive growth strategy for its marine operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East and to leverage shared services opportunities for all of Brunswick's operations, including fitness, in those regions. "This organizational structure is designed to achieve two primary objectives," George W. Buckley, Brunswick's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "First is to take a more comprehensive and cohesive approach to growing our marine presence in these important markets. Our second objective is to more efficiently manage and share services such as finance, human resources, information technology, legal and supply chain among our marine, fitness and bowling operations in the region." For more, click here.

>> Mary Suhr, former public relations manager at Reebok and, most recently, at True Fitness, has a new national talk radio show called Health & Harmony that will debut May 16 on the Cable Radio Network (CRN), a network that reaches 26 million households coast-to-coast. The show will focus on fitness, nutrition, traditional healing and the power of the mind and will broadcast every Sunday from 10 to 11 a.m. from the CRN studios in Los Angeles. The show will also stream live on the web from www.healthandharmonyradio.com. "My mission is to make a difference and empower people to transform their lifestyle by exercising both their body and their mind," said Suhr, who created and will produce Health & Harmony. The show's first guest will be Mr. Universe bodybuilding legend, Bill Pearl, who at age 73, still lectures around the world on healthy living. Suhr tells SNEWS® there are opportunities for those in the industry for exposure or sponsorship on the show. For more information contact her at 818/ 846-2396 or at marysuhr@earthlink.net.

>> Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp. (NYSE: BFT) announced it has named Barry M. Deutsch to its board of directors and audit committee. Deutsch joins Bally with nearly 20 years of experience in the health care, finance and mergers and acquisitions arenas. He is presently CFO at Ovation Pharmaceuticals, a Chicago-based specialty pharmaceutical company. Deutsch will replace Martin Franklin, who resigned earlier this week, citing time commitments.

>> GERMANY -- Club operators and fitness equipment manufacturers reported in a recent German survey that they expected to see additional business development in 2004. This finding was part of an economic survey by the Working Committee of the Leisure-Time Industry at the Institute of German Industry Cologne. According to results, 14 of the total 35 segments in the recreation and leisure industry said they expect to see revenues rise by as much as 7 percent this year.

>> The Nautilus Group has done some management restructuring of late. Kevin Lamar, formerly president of the commercial and retail areas, is company COO, and now oversees operations, product development, supply chain and the factories. Lamar tells SNEWS® he is also now in charge of most of the European operations including sales. Tim Hawkins, formerly vice president of sales at Levi Strauss, is the new chief customer officer (CCO) and now runs all of sales. Randal Potter has assumed the title of chief marketing officer; previously, he was COO and president of the direct side. Darryl Thomas, also coming from Levi Strauss, became the Nautilus Group's new senior vice president of strategic planning and project management, in January 2004. Both Hawkins and Thomas worked with President/CEO Gregg Hammann at Levi Strauss. To read complete bios, click here.

>> The SGMA's annual study of financial performance has found that U.S. sporting goods manufacturers maintained a healthy rate of sales growth while controlling costs and managing assets well. However, a reduction in gross margin attributable to pricing pressure resulted in weaker bottom line results in 2003 compared to 2002. According to the report, sporting goods manufacturers' sales growth (+6.8 percent) was strong and on par with that of 2002, but lagged behind the sales growth rate of all non-durable goods manufacturers in 2003. Productivity growth (sales/employee) improved in 2003 (+3.7 percent) indicating good utilization of human resources. Industry profitability declined slightly from 2002. Return on sales (5.2 percent), return on assets (8 percent), and return on equity (13.1 percent) all declined in 2003. This was primarily caused by a decline in gross margin from 38.6 percent in 2002 to 35.5 percent in 2003. More at www.sgma.com.

>> GERMANY -- Results from market research done in partnership with the FIBO fitness show in Germany showed that three of four club/studio owners already are expecting a good financial outcome for the year. "Best sellers" ordered directly at the show last month by owners included those that are "wellness-oriented" (21 percent), fitness equipment (19.3 percent), cardiovascular machines (19.3 percent), medical equipment (17.1 percent), and rehabilitation equipment and gear (15.6 percent). FIBO Director Sandra Orth said this is a sign that studios and clubs are increasingly becoming integrated health, wellness and fitness centers. Orth said that the goal to build out the character of the FIBO trade show and to build a base of new customers in other countries is becoming reality -- proof of that is the increase in countries represented at FIBO from 28 last year to 40 this year.

>> Getting fit and not having halitosis .... Not sure of the relationship. Nevertheless, Listerine PocketPaks has signed on as the premier sponsor of IHRSA's Get Active America! Campaign from May 17-23. Listerine PocketPaks will distribute 2.5 million free samples of its Cool Mint and Fresh Burst flavor PocketPaks to more than 1,500 participating IHRSA member health clubs. Listerine PocketPaks joins the California Strawberry Commission premier sponsor, as well as other industry sponsors, including Life Fitness, Cybex, Technogym and Matrix.

>> Iron Grip Barbell Company and Body Training Systems (BTS) have recently entered into a strategic partnership to offer fitness facilities the ultimate group strength training experience. BTS, a provider of group fitness programs, is now offering Iron Grip's Group Strength line as an equipment component to its Bodypump program. Headquartered in Atlanta, BTS is the U.S. and Canadian distributor of licensed group fitness programs.

>> GERMANY -- The United States made a strong showing at the ispo BrandNew awards -- co-sponsored by DuPont, Invista and DuPont SA -- walking away with three awards, including overall winner, in the contest done in conjunction with the Munich, Germany-based, sporting goods trade show, ispo. For the first time in the award's 10-year history, 29 percent of the entries came from the United States, with 125 entries from 19 countries total. A forum for new companies judged by a jury of sports business professionals on design, marketing and innovation, the seven winners receive all-expense paid booths and other benefits at ispo summer, July 4-6, in Munich -- a $125,000 value. Honolulu-based Clear Blue Hawaii (www.clearbluehawaii.com) claimed the Lycra Overall Award with its clear-colored, folding Napali kayak; Flybar U.S.A. (www.flybar.com), based in Ellenville, N.Y., won the Delrin Hardware category with the Flybar power pogo stick with a built-in spring for balancing and bouncing; and Surfsling U.S.A. (www.surfsling.com), based in Costa Mesa, Calif., took the Teflon Hardware Accessories Award for its multi-use beach towel. Other category winners were: Germany's ZEHA for its clodhoppers (Cordura Style Award); Australia's Kite Chicks for kitesurfing products designed for women (Coolmax Sportswear Award); Austria's Losungsmittel for the Urban Tool ergonomic shoulder holster for endurance athletes to carry valuables (Tactel Sportswear Accessories Award); Australia's Force Industries for the RAPCAP Torsion Cap Technology bodyboards (Hytrel Boarder Award); and Finland's FRWD Technologies for the Sports Performance Recorder, a GPS-based recorder for training data (Thermolite Accessories Award). In addition to the winners, 33 additional finalists will display at ispo for the first time and will be offered the chance to be a part of the BrandNew exhibition. For more details and a list of finalists, go to www.ispo-brandnew.com.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- With heart disease and obesity reportedly on the rise in the U.K., Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell launched her Summer of Sport campaign to underline the government's commitment to sport in the U.K. She delivered a progress report on targets announced two years ago in Game Plan, the 2002 report by the Prime Minister's strategy unit, including the goal of 70 percent of the nation doing 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five times a week by 2020. She also reported: The government has invested more than GBP 3 billion (USD $ 5.35 billion) of government and lottery money in sport since 1997 with a clear strategy for achieving a fitter nation; the DCMS is working closely with the Department of Health to combat obesity; nearly GBP 700 million (USD $ 1.25 billion) has been invested in school and community sport through the New Opportunities Fund and Sport England; 62 percent of students now spend at least two hours a week in PE and school sports; and 96 percent of schools held at least one sports day last year. Jowell also called for national support for Sport England's Youth Games, of which 100,000 kids are participating, taking place at 42 venues across England this summer and for London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics. She said she was happy to see Granada TV launching its "Britain on the Move" campaign. "Every little bit is helping us to achieve our goal. Sport England's plans to launch a comprehensive database of nationwide sports facilities later in the summer will be another big milestone," she said. "From school sports days to the Olympics, at all levels it's going to be a fantastic summer of sport."

>> Music TV station VH1 is giving six women the opportunity to go from "glum to glamorous" in its two-part series "Flab to Fab," debuting May 10. (VH1 called them "real women," and we aren't sure if that is in contrast to "unreal" women.) In each episode, a team of nutritionists, celebrity chefs, trainers and stylists put the women to the test following a 90-day workout and diet program modeled after a favorite rock celebrity. Group 1 modeled its workout after J-Lo, doing the same types of exercises that the uber-star does to get those tight, muscled arms and wash-board abs, while Group 2 followed the regime of singer Beyonce, incorporating her favorite exercise including aerobic/dance training. If the groups make it through the experience and meet their goals, they get a rock star makeover, a shopping spree at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, a party in their honor at a Hollywood night club to show off their new look to their friends and family, and a one-year membership at Crunch Gym to help keep up their physique. SNEWS® View: What's a rock star makeover?

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