Fitness: Did you hear?...

Nutritionist Nancy Clark on Wheaties box, Gary Peak moves to Sportcraft, UK fitness industry embroiled in "clash of the titans," Germany clubs in growth trend, plus much more...
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>> When you think of Wheaties, "Breakfast of Champions" comes to mind. But how about: "Breakfast of Nutritionist Specialists"? Two special-edition boxes with Olympic track and field greats Carl Lewis and Jackie Joyner-Kersee on the front will also have nutritionist Nancy Clark on the back extolling the virtues of the fiber-rich cereal as part of a healthy diet. The bestselling author of "Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook" is the director of nutrition services at SportsMedicine Associates in Brookline, Mass., one of the largest athletic injury clinics in the Boston area. A registered dietitian specializing in nutrition for sports, exercise and weight management, Clark counsels everyone from casual exercisers to competitive athletes, including the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Olympic athletes. Wheaties picked her to promote its sports nutrition education campaign to remind athletes to optimally fuel their bodies with whole grains in this era of Atkins-mania. The back of the box isn't a spot to pooh-pooh. Wheaties started putting athletes, like Lou Gehrig and Babe Didrickson, on the back of boxes in the 1930s. It wasn't until 1958 that the first athlete appeared on the front of a Wheaties box: decathlon gold medalist Bob Richards. SNEWS® View: Clark is a well-respected nutrition expert who toes a conservative, research-fueled line that works. Mention "net-impact carbs" and she'd likely laugh you out of her office.

>> Gary Peak, former senior vice president at Omni Fitness, is the new general manager of the fitness division at Sportcraft. Before Omni, Peak was COO at the Sports Training Institute. He began at Sportcraft in August.

>> Along with new product launches also comes the exercise diagrams and workout instruction that tells people how to get the best exercise on the equipment. New research in the peer-reviewed journal from the American College of Sports Medicine, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, has shown that three 10-minute workouts offer more benefit in reducing risk of one measure of heart disease than does a continuous 30-minute bout of the same exercise, according to an article in the journal's August issue. The study, by researchers at the University of Missouri at Columbia, found that intermittent exercise lowers levels of triglyceride, a type of heart-unhealthy fat in the blood, more effectively than continuous exercise. Researchers measured triglyceride levels in 18 men and seven women, all healthy and ages 18 to 45. Each ran once on a treadmill for 30 minutes and, a week or so later, did three separate 10-minute sessions on the treadmill. Both times, their blood was drawn after several hours of rest. Each of the three 10-minute bouts of exercise was followed by a 20-minute rest period. All exercisers worked out with heart rates at 60 percent of maximum. The researchers theorize that a raised metabolic rate triggers a drop in triglyceride levels, which would explain the advantage of the shorter sessions: The intermittent routine included 60 minutes of recovery -- 20 minutes after each 10-minute session -- while the 30-minute routine gave the body only one 20-minute recovery. The study did caution against over-interpreting the results because triglyceride level "is just one of hundreds of markers" of heart disease. People who have the time and dedication for continuous workouts should continue to do them. "This (study) tells us that intermittent exercise is also OK. It takes away one more excuse for not exercising," said study co-author Tom Thomas, professor of nutritional sciences at Missouri-Columbia. SNEWS® View: Research from the '90s has also already shown that three 10-minute bouts of aerobic exercise also can give nearly the same fitness-training results as one 30-minute bout. Time to rethink those instruction manuals to help hold more people's hands to get up off the couch.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- Analysts have described the top end of the health and fitness industry in the United Kingdom as a "clash of the titans," as competitive pressures in the sector intensify. David Pattison, senior analyst at Plimsoll Publishing, said recently he expects to see either mergers or takeovers among the UK's larger health and fitness companies in the near future. "The top end of the health and fitness industry is heavily congested, with no room for any of the major companies to breathe. In other markets where this has been the case, for example supermarkets, there has been a series of major acquisitions to clear the air," Patterson said. In recently published research of the largest 89 companies in the UK, Plimsoll Publishing also reports clear evidence of stagnation at the top of the market with 33 companies failing to increase sales above inflation. Patterson said: "Only five of the top 100 companies have shown profit growth in three consecutive years, while 14 companies have not made any profit over the same period." Details at www.majorcompanies.co.uk.

>> New data from the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) reported that among athletic footwear categories with more than $300 million between October 2003 and March 2004, jogging/running shoes had the strongest increase in sales -- 12 percent -- while cross-training shoes had one of the most significant declines, also 12 percent. Retail sales of athletic footwear rose 0.2 percent during the six-month period. Sales for the six-month reporting period were $6.26 billion versus $6.25 billion for the same period the previous year. The largest categories -- in terms of dollars spent by consumers during this six-month period -- were walking shoes ($1.52 billion), running/jogging shoes ($864.7 million), cross training shoes ($727.2 million), and gym shoes/sneakers ($668.7 million). For the six-month reporting period, full-line sporting goods stores accounted for 13.8 percent of athletic footwear unit sales, an increase from 12.5 percent last year. Specialty athletic footwear stores lost market share in athletic shoe categories, while discount stores were flat. Specialty athletic footwear stores claimed 11.5 percent of the athletic footwear market versus 12.5 percent the previous year. Discount stores held at 22 percent. Online/internet sales were 3 percent of the total athletic footwear market, up from 2.8 percent the previous year. To gather the data, NSGA surveys a total of 40,000 households -- 20,000 households twice a year. The full report on the athletic footwear market will be part of the "The Sporting Goods Market in 2005," which will be available in May 2005. For information on NSGA research, contact Thomas Doyle at 847-296-6742, ext. 107, or tdoyle@nsga.org.

>> GERMANY -- The market for fitness clubs and studios in Germany in the first half of 2004 has continued to grow, according to recent research, albeit at a slower pace. That's what researchers at Deloitte found. The group surveyed membership at the 15 largest chains and franchises and compared the numbers to the same period last year. In 2004, the clubs experienced 8 percent growth in membership compared to 10 percent last year. Annual growth in membership from June 2003 to June 2004 stood at 14 percent, compared to 17 percent for the previous year ending in June 2003. Average membership per club was 1,840 last year, which climbed to 1,916 this year.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- Did you know that to burn off one plain M&M candy, you need to walk the full length of a football field? Mountain Warehouse in the United Kingdom is making sure Brits know about it and are doing something about it by supporting National Walking Day, Sept. 19, and International Walk to School Week, Oct. 4-8. With the U.K. government issuing warnings that Britain is on the verge of an obesity epidemic, Mountain Warehouse founder Mark Neale said he believes that walking your way to health and fitness is one of the easiest ways to tackle the problem. In addition to supporting the two events -- which drew 3 million people in 29 countries last year -- the retailer is also offering promotions on select outdoor gear for kids and adults. For more information, check out www.mountainwarehouse.com.

>> Bargains won't necessarily bring in more customers or more love from those customers, stated a recent New York Times story by William C. Taylor, co-founder and the founding editor of Fast Company magazine who is writing a book called "Mavericks at Work." Some companies, to fight offshoring and the economy, are offering the best bargains in history, he said. "Yet the harder companies work to make products cheaper and better, the less they seem to impress their customers," he wrote. The American Customer Satisfaction Index, the benchmark of how buyers feel about what business is selling them, will reach its 10-year anniversary this fall and it shows satisfaction for 200 companies in 40 industries, but scores haven't risen as a whole. "A decade ago, on a scale of 0 to 100, the overall index was 74.8. The most recent score was 74.4," he wrote in the article. "The bottom line is that despite a decade of spectacular advances in hardware price and performance, as well as an explosion of innovation in consumer electronics, mobile phones, Internet access and low-cost travel, customers remain unmoved, even downright unappreciative." The problem, he said, is that "too many companies confuse selling clever gadgets at good prices with delighting customers; when so many products get cheaper every year, offering customers a great bargain will not necessarily win their loyalty." The world is let's-make-a-deal and consumers have come to expect someone to beat another, but that doesn't mean they are most satisfied. To read the whole story, click here.

>> Bally Total Fitness and its Crunch Fitness brand launched new ad campaigns that focus on real life stories and pivotal events. In keeping with its "Every Body Needs Something" campaign, Bally's latest national TV commercial features real weight-loss stories from Melanie and Gina Landano, sisters who have lost almost 200 pounds combined at Bally clubs. Produced through a collaborative effort with Bally's in-house agency and A. Eicoff & Company, the sisters talk about how they have stayed motivated with the help of one another and Bally, reinforcing Bally's overall philosophy that diet alone is not the answer to America's rising obesity rates. "The Every Body Needs Something campaign continues to deliver on our commitment to feature a more realistic and modern approach to fitness," said Martin Pazzani, Bally's chief marketing officer. "In this new advertising approach, we strive to better relate with consumers and tackle the concerns and lifestyle issues that most Americans face on a daily basis." In conjunction with its 15th anniversary, Crunch Fitness' ad campaign unveils a new tagline --"15 Years of Making Life Hot 'N Sweaty" -- designed to commemorate the longevity of the brand and highlight its creative and humorous group fitness classes. Crunch went back in history with the campaign theme, showing its roots as an aerobics studio in New York City to its expansion into 24 state-of-the-art gyms located in the nation's largest markets. As part of the campaign, Crunch will offer members in select cities the classes that put Crunch on the map, including Crunch Striptease, Cycle Karaoke, Gospel Aerobics, Urban Rebounding, Disco Yoga and Firefighter Workout.

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