Fitness: Did you hear?...

Dave Taylor appointed North American sales manager for Bodyguard, Ponzi scheme strikes school districts seeking fitness equipment, Germany's Bremshey declares bankruptcy, Reebok celebrates 25th anniversary, and much more...
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>> Dave Taylor has been appointed North American sales manager for Bodyguard Fitness. Taylor originally joined Bodyguard a year ago, coming from Muscle Dynamics for the newly created position of eastern regional manager of commercial sales. Taylor had been at Muscle Dynamics for 11 years and before that he was at Nautilus.

>> Everlast Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ: EVST) has announced the signing of another licensing agreement with Sparta Ltd., a sporting goods and apparel manufacturer and distributor based in St. Petersburg, Russia. Sparta will expand its Everlast products to include men's, women's and children's apparel, in addition to its current line of retail boxing equipment. The Everlast line of apparel produced by Sparta will be distributed throughout Russia and sold through the same sporting goods outlets and better department stores that sell the Everlast boxing equipment.

>> Not everybody working as a go-between with school districts and manufacturers to get equipment for schools is legit, it seems. We found a story in the Chicago Tribune last week about the owner of a Utah company who pleaded guilty for his part in an alleged scam that left hundreds of school districts across the country paying for equipment they expected to get for free. "Joseph Mont Beardall, 49, agreed in Minneapolis federal court to sell his $1 million house, liquidate collectibles and hand over other cash to pay restitution to the school districts and banks that bought the gear. His company, School Fitness Systems, is also surrendering its inventory and $2.6 million. School Fitness Systems was the vendor used by a charitable group, National School Fitness Foundation, to put high-tech exercise gear into more than 600 schools across the country. Saying it wanted to combat childhood obesity, the foundation promised to repay districts for a package of cardiovascular and weight-lifting machines sold by Beardall's company for an average of $220,000," according to the paper's story. Money to pay for the equipment was supposed to come from government grants and private donations, but it really came from royalties the School Fitness Systems gave to the foundation in an apparent "Ponzi" scheme (where money is simply moved from one to another). The foundation declared bankruptcy in the spring and accused its founder of misappropriating nearly $4 million. To read the entire story, click here (you may have to register).

>> GERMANY – German fitness supplier Bremshey, a 30-year-old successful importer of home products and a distributor for brands that included Tunturi, has declared bankruptcy. Managing director Bernhard Wenders already left the company nearly two months ago. His successor, Frank Neumann, said he was forced to take this step, but the company will continue to look for investors and investigate a management buyout, SNEWS® sources in Germany have said. Bremshey's contract with Tunturi is up in September, at which time sources said Tunturi will try to move ahead with its own subsidiary.

>> The National Retail Federation sent out a press release announcing the 2004 Top 100 Specialty Retailers ranking sponsored by Alliance Data Systems, and published by Stores magazine, the official publication of the NRF. The report is an annual snapshot of the specialty retailing industry, ranking companies by revenues, and grouping them on one chart regardless of the merchandise categories in which they operate. The Sports Authority took 36th position with $1.76 billion in sales, and Dick's at $1.47 billion occupied 49th. Big 5 came in to the 82nd slot with $709 million in sales. It was funny to see Galyan's with $690 million in sales grabbing the 85th spot considering it recently went to Dick's (ah, the dangers of early publishing deadlines). www.nrf.com

>>Once upon a time, the Reebok Pump was the coolest thing that ever happened to shoes. There was the little bubble thing on the tongue that you squeezed and then you could jump like Michael Jordan. At least that's what you hoped. Then, when reality sank in, there were the crazy rumors about what would happen if you pumped it too many times. (We won't go there.)Luckily for Reebok (NYSE: RBK), the Pump was not the only thing it had going for it. The company, which started out in the United States as a tiny British import, has just celebrated its 25th anniversary. Reebok shoes arrived in stores in 1979 and there was immediate demand for the Aztec, the Paris and the London, despite their unmatched high price of $60. Demand grew ever faster with the introduction of an athletic shoe designed for women. The company is now a $3.5 billion global corporation. These days, the pump has not disappeared altogether, it's just lost its bounce in the face of the new cool thing: shoes designed for rappers Jay-Z and 50 Cent.

>> Stone Age Climbing Inc., a manufacturer of artificial climbing holds, has sold its assets to Touchstone Climbing Inc., the owner of six indoor climbing and fitness clubs located on Northern California. Touchstone has moved production from Bend, Ore., to Sacramento, Calif., to place the operation in close proximity to the company's Sacramento Pipeworks climbing gym. Touchstone will continue to produce handholds for sale to climbing gyms, institutions, and the public in addition to supplying its full-time course setting crew with many of its holds. Touchstone operates Mission Cliffs, Berkeley Ironworks, Class 5, Sacramento Pipeworks, Touchstone Concord, and Touchstone San Jose, which are indoor climbing and fitness clubs. For more information, click on either www.stoneageclimbing.com or www.touchstoneclimbing.com.

>> Seems exercise is indeed the answer to conquering jet lag, and finding an answer is a great thing since dealing with it while traveling for business can be a real drag. Exhausted at 3 in the afternoon and wide-awake at 1 a.m. Coffee becomes a bosom buddy, if it wasn't already; job performance takes a high dive. A recent study has shown that exercising while on travel can boost energy, mood, and work performance, according to Mark Rosenkind of Alertness Solutions, a consulting firm in Cupertino, Calif. Rosenkind asked 3,500 business travelers from the United States and Canada if they exercised while traveling and, if so how, it affected their performance. Sixty-six percent said they exercised and of those 35 percent said it improved their work performance. Rosenkind then studied 25 frequent travelers more closely. He found that those who exercised during their trip performed 61 percent better than the non-exercise group. He also found discrepancies between how people thought they were doing and how they performed in tests measuring reaction times, attention and vigilance. "People overestimated how well they were doing…People think they're OK and they're not," Rosenkind said in a statement. So even if that triple-shot mocha makes you feel like you could do anything, a little jog around the block might take you farther.

>>Precor has been named the official fitness equipment provider for the International Spa Association. "People no longer see spas as pampering, but instead as a requisite to stay healthy," ISPA Executive Director Lynne Walker McNees said in a statement. "As the spa industry evolves, it makes sense for the industry to partner with others that share our goal to provide complete health and wellness and stress reduction under one roof." The three-year agreement will include Precor's attendance as an exhibiting sponsor at the ISPA Conference & Expo, this year from Nov. 8-11 in Las Vegas, Nev. ISPA was founded in 1991 and has 2,000 member health and wellness facilities and providers in 63 countries.

>> SNEWS® / GearTrends® contributor (and former Life Fitness PR manager) Julie King gave birth July 14 to twin boys. Kyle Andrew was 5 pounds, 6 ounces (18.5 inches) and Nathan Cody was 5 pounds, 3 ounces (and 19 inches). Nathan took his sweet time too, it seems, despite being the slightly smaller guy. Julie says, "Amazingly, I feel pretty good and am up and moving. The boys are doing great and are healthy and cute. They are fraternal, but it took Jim and I a bit of time to figure out who's who." Two-year-old Ryan is definitely intrigued by his new siblings, but as Julie said optimistically "hasn't sat on them yet, so that's good." She hopes to get back to writing and teaching soon. She added, " We're pretty tired, but I guess I should get used to that for the next 18 years or so." SNEWS® View: Best wishes to Julie and husband Jim. She is going to surrounded by men and boys it seems! You can send your own best wishes by emailing Julie@snewsnet.com.

>> AARP, the largest nongovernmental organization in the United States dedicated to the needs of adults ages 50 and older, and the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), the world's largest trade association for the senior fitness and wellness industry, have joined forces to educate each other's members. The organizations intend to support these members through the sharing of education, information, resources and tools. The ICAA will help to improve knowledge about active aging among the more than 35 million Americans who are AARP members. In return, AARP will help to educate ICAA members with the latest information and research about aging and aging issues. For more on ICAA founded by Colin Milner, go to www.icaa.cc.

>> Canadian sporting goods cash registers are continuing to ring, where the SGMA says its reports show the sporting goods industry has grown since 1999. According to its latest report, "2003 Canadian Sporting Goods Market Report prepared for SGMA by Trendex Sports Vision, the Canadian sporting goods market has grown from $5.6 billion in 1999 to $6.8 billion in 2003. Other facts are: Canadian Tire is the largest retailer in Canada for dollars spent and Wal-Mart is Canada's largest retailer for units sold. At retail, more than 70 percent of the inventory sold by sporting specialists is sporting goods equipment. The report is available for a few. Click here for more information.

>>Could wearing casual clothes to work help you lose weight? Put on those jeans and comfy shoes, people, and feel the calories go up in flames. In its quest for a new research study subject, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) took a look at conventional business garb and -- surprise surprise -- found that it is not really conducive to physical activity. "If you were a woman in high heels, you'd be less likely to take the stairs versus the elevator," study author Katie L. Zahour, M.A., said in an article in the ACE publication Fitness Matters. The experts at ACE decided to find out whether wearing casual clothing to work affects the physical activity of workers. They found that when test subjects wore casual clothing their physical activity during the workday jumped 8 percent. Fifty-three healthy men and women with an average age of 42 participated in the study. Lead researchers Zahour and John Porcari Ph.D. recruited workers from 25 companies in the La Crosse, Wis. area. They chose a diverse group of companies to ensure that jobs of various activity levels would be represented, including department stores, banks, city government, and the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse participated, among others. The study subjects wore a pedometer two days a week for two weeks. They wore their regular work attire one day and jeans the next. Researchers recorded and compared the total number of steps subjects took before lunch, after lunch and throughout the day. On average, subjects took 491 more steps on the days they wore jeans. That means participants burned about 25 extra calories a day when they went casual. Two thousand steps is roughly the equivalent of one mile and by walking 10,000 steps a day, the average person can burn up to 3,500 calories (approximately one pound of fat) per week. SNEWS® View: Yeah, yeah, we know the little things can make a difference. But 25 calories? That's only about one chocolate drop. Still, if you're trying to advocate casual days at work, throw this up on the company bulletin board to start a stampede toward jeans and tennis shoes at work everyday.

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