Fitness: Did you hear?...

Women choose fitness activities, efi's Gravity System wins award, exercise equipment sales holding own, Health & Fitness Business show touts strong early registration, United Kingdom worries about rising obesity and lays plans, and much more…
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>> Women aren't retiring wall flowers who "just glisten" anymore, but have learned how to sweat and are sticking with it, according to recent data from the SGMA's Superstudy of Sports Participation. And their emphasis is on fitness activities, with two of three of their top 15 activities for 2003 tied to fitness where "frequent" participation is tagged as 100 or more days a year. The most popular fitness-oriented sports for women, age 6 and older, who participate regularly are: one, stretching, 10,710,000; two, fitness walking, 9,788,000; three, treadmill exercise, 6,160,000; four, free weights-hand weights, 4,587,000; five, running/jogging, 4,247,000; six, weight/resistance machines, 4,073,000; seven, calisthenics, 3,921,000; eight, day hiking (15+ days/year), 3,749,000; 12, free weights-dumbbells, 3,011,000; 14, other exercise to music, 2,942,000; 15, abdominal machine/device, 2,208,000. This information comes from the SGMA Superstudy of Sports Participation Volumes I, II and III (2004 edition). More at www.sgma.com.

>> efi Sports Medicine’s GRAVITYSystem recently received another fitness industry award: the One Body One World (OBOW) Award from the East Coast Alliance (ECA), which came on the heels of the Innovation Award from the FIBO trade show in Germany in April. Nominated and voted on by ECA members, ECA World Fitness bestowed the OBOW Award for Best New Product Innovation to the GRAVITYSystem. Judging criteria for this award were innovation of the equipment, ease-of-use and safety.

>> Retail sales of sporting goods, which reached $45.8 billion in 2003, are expected to grow 2 percent in 2004, according to the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), with exercise equipment one of the leaders that offset losses in other areas. For 2004, sales of athletic and sports equipment, shoes and clothing are forecast to reach $46.6 billion. In 2003, equipment sales were flat. Total sales of athletic and sports clothing were $9.6 billion in 2003 versus $9.8 billion in 2002. Total footwear sales reached $14.4 billion in 2003 versus $14.1 billion the previous year. Sales of sports equipment were $21.8 billion in 2003 versus $21.7 billion in 2002. Sales of all sporting goods (clothing, footwear and equipment) were virtually unchanged in 2003 versus 2002, $45.8 billion versus $45.6 billion. In equipment categories with sales of more than $1 billion, an 8 percent rise in exercise equipment sales ($4.7 billion) was offset by a 7 percent decline in golf equipment sales ($3.0 billion), said NSGA Vice President of Information & Research Thomas B. Doyle. The data is reported in "The Sporting Goods Market in 2004," a copyrighted NSGA consumer study that projects 2003 purchases of sporting goods products based on a survey of 100,000 U.S. households. National Family Opinion Inc. maintains the consumer panel used in the survey. For additional information, contact Thomas B. Doyle, NSGA, 1601 Feehanville Dr., Ste. 300, Mount Prospect, IL 60056-6035. Phone: 847-296-6742, or e-mail info@nsga.org.

>> With a show of patriotism, Life Fitness helped get the blood flowing at the California Bipartisan Weigh-Off in Sacramento, a month-long fitness campaign kicked off in late April to help raise awareness about obesity and its ill effects. Life Fitness provided 30 LeMond RevMaster bikes for members of the California legislature to use in a 30-minute group cycling class on the steps of the state’s Capitol. Spearheaded by California Assemblymen Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, and Lou Correa, D-Anaheim, other events in the Weigh Off have included a workout with the California Highway Patrol cadets, a soccer game with local elementary school children and a one-mile bipartisan jog around the Capitol grounds. "Life Fitness is aware and concerned about the alarming overweight and obesity statistics of our citizens and shares the assemblymen’s desire to encourage regular exercise and healthy lifestyles," said Kevin Grodzki, Life Fitness’ president and CEO. "We were glad to help with this event in California."

>> The Arizona Cardinals, the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation have teamed up with other public and private partners to launch a coalition to fight childhood obesity in the metro Phoenix area. Obesity has become the No. 1 threat to the health and well-being of children in the United States. In Arizona, 56 percent of residents are overweight or obese and the state spends $752 million each year on obesity-related illness. The Maricopa Council on Youth Sports & Physical Activity (MCYSPA) has been formed to respond to the crisis of childhood obesity and physical inactivity. The new community coalition is made of stakeholders from organizations in philanthropy, health care, government, youth sports, recreation and professional sports. The coalition will also announce major funding commitments from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Arizona Cardinals and the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care in the United States. MCYSPA is focusing on increasing participation in physical activity among area youth through improving youth sports facilities and programs as well as promoting healthy lifestyles. The coalition also looks to generate its own fund-raising initiatives with grants such as that from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others. It is an outgrowth of the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority's Youth and Amateur Sports Advisory Committee.

>> Bally Total Fitness is offering another tool in the arsenal to help Americans win the fight against obesity. As part of its "Every Body Needs Something" initiative, the free Bally Total Fitness Fast Food Calculator features a calorie converter and body-specific exercise programs to burn those calories off. The calculator was developed following a recent national survey by Bally revealing that 55 percent of Americans felt a need to lose more than 20 pounds and 64 percent are embarrassed by America's status as the fattest nation on the globe. Bally also found that despite a plethora of information, Americans are "shockingly uneducated and misinformed about their personal food choices and are highly conflicted and confused about how to successfully reach a healthy weight," the company said in a statement. In its survey, findings showed that Americans were consistently misinformed about the fat and calories contained in popular food items. For example, on average, respondents believed that a latte, a pizza slice and a fried chicken breast all have approximately the same caloric and fat content. In reality, a latte has about 260 calories and 14 grams of fat, a pizza slice has approximately 350 calories and 18 grams of fat, and a fried chicken breast has 470 calories and 28 grams of fat. Bally’s Fast Food Calculator will provide exercise programs to balance a variety of popular food choices, tailored to a person's body specifics. To use the food calculator, go to www.ballyfitness.com and click on "Fast Food Calculator" under features.

>> Management for the Health & Fitness Business Expo is reporting that early registration numbers are strong for the upcoming August trade event with more than 400 buyers already signed up. Representatives from both general sporting goods and specialty fitness stores that have registered include: Modell’s, Copeland’s, Galyan’s Trading Company, REI, Paragon, Play it Again Sports, Sport Chalet, The Sports Authority, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gart Sports, Busy Body Fitness Stores, Fitness Systems, LA Gym Equipment, Advanced Exercise Equipment, The Fitness Store and many others. Exhibiting fitness industry players include the Nautilus Health & Fitness Group, Diamondback Fitness, True Fitness, Bodyguard Fitness, SportsArt America and Keys Fitness. Retailers can still register online for free through July 9, after which it will cost $25. To exhibit or register click here.

>> The SGMA's Superstudy of Sports Participation also profiles lifestyle demographics and has a supplement on geographic centers. In the lifestyle segment, the categories are called "Big City Bucks" (2,000,000+ population centers, $100,000+ income), "Money to Burn" (single with a $75,000+ income), and "Golf Course Condos" ($100,000+ income, age 55+). Those are just three of the 40 lifestyle demographic categories which are profiled in the supplement. The supplement also discusses the four major geographic regions in the United States, as well as breaking down data by divisions, states and metro areas. To look at the table of contents, click here.

>> UNITED KINGDOM - Health club chain, David Lloyd Leisure (DLL) and sports event management company, Nova International, have joined forces in an attempt to create the largest mass-participation running event in the world. The David Lloyd Leisure Great Mile Run was launched this month to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first four-minute mile. The campaign will see a number of major mile events throughout the U.K. and aims to get a million people to run a total of a million miles in order to raise money for charity. In a statement, DLL said: "At a time when more and more people are starting to enter running events, such as the Great North Run, and with awareness of obesity issues at an all-time high, we are delighted to work with Nova International to provide a new sporting experience to inspire a healthier community and raise millions for charity." Details at www.davidlloydleisure.co.uk or www.greatrun.org.

>> Women’s-only gyms like Curves, Slender Lady, Contours Express, Shapes Express, Ladies Workout Express, Liberty Fitness, Workout For Women, Lady of America and New Fitness For Ladies are among the fast-growing franchise developments, according to the San Antonio Express newspaper. With their no-men-allowed policy, the clubs appeal to women who have rarely, if ever, exercised before or are intimidated by the buffed and toned bodies of traditional health clubs. To read the San Antonio Express article about this booming phenomena, click here.

>> UNITED KINGDOM – Some two-thirds of the population of England are overweight, according to a report published today by the House of Commons select committee on health. While obesity in the U.K. has quadrupled since 1980, the report estimates the cost of unhealthy eating and the resulting health risks at around GBP 7.4 billion a year (USD $13.5 billion). The report, "Obesity," also singles out what it sees as the main causes of the problem: "In the absence of practical cookery lessons, children grow up without the skills to prepare healthy meals, leading to a reliance on convenience foods."

>> UNITED KINGDOM – The issue of obesity, a growing concern in the United States, is also top of mind for government officials in the U.K. In response to the Health Select Committee's report on obesity (see above), Health Secretary John Reid said: "We share the committee's concern about the seriousness of the health impact of obesity. It is one of the key issues which will be addressed in our White Paper on Public Health later this year. We recognize that these issues are not just a matter for Government -- they involve individuals and the choices they make, as well as the food and leisure industry. However, we at the Department of Health are already working closely with colleagues across Government including Education, Culture, Media and Sport, Transport, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Food Standards Agency, to encourage and enable people to eat more nutritious food and take more exercise. We have set up a cross-Government Cabinet committee under my chairmanship to take this work forward, and address wider public health issues." Measures the U.K. has already taken to tackle obesity include: giving free fruit to 4- to 6-year-olds in schools; piloting different ways to encourage different groups to get more exercise, such as free swimming lessons; working to improve the nutritional quality of school meals; replacing "fizzy drinks" in school vending machines with water and fruit juice; improving school sports facilities and extending their availability to the community; encouraging better cycle lanes and walking routes; and looking at whether there should be restrictions on advertising food to children -- and if so, whether they should be voluntary or mandatory.

>> Think your workload has increased in the last two years? You aren't alone, according to data from a recent email survey by the Net Future Institute of executives and managers. Overall, 80 percent of executives and managers say the amount of work they do has increased. While 46 percent say their work has increased significantly, 34 percent say it has increased "somewhat." A greater percentage of managers say their workload has increased significantly (53 percent) from two years ago, compared to the 38 percent of executives. One respondent said: "It has become an all too familiar trend . . . take on more work . . . have your pay cut by a percentage in order to keep the company in business and have a job. A large number of people in the work force are rapidly reaching burnout."

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