Fitness: Did you hear?...An Impersonal Trainer, Lifestyle Fitness, TKO's reorganization, IHRSA, Iron Grip, Olympics, SportsArt, Equinox, North Castle Partners, and more…

Lifestyle Fitness Equipment opens more stores, TKO files first Ch. 11 operating report, Related Companies buys Equinox Holdings for $505 million, IHRSA releases health club operations study, plus much more...
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For Dec. 6-12

>> And you thought your personal trainer cared about you? HA!! With full credit to The Onion (www.theonion.com), we'd like to share one of its recent short pieces, this one called, "Impersonal Trainer Couldn't Give A **** What You Do With Those Free Weights." Beware: Read this if you only want a good laugh. Wes Orth Jr., the man considered to be the standard-bearer for a new breed of strong and aloof impersonal trainers, could not care less about the workout regimen of his clients, many of whom say his indifference powers their adrenaline-charged, spite-filled workouts. "Sure, wave those dumbbells around, whatever," Orth said during a typically hands-off training session at his L.A. gym this weekend. "Or just sit on your fat ass-I get paid either way." For the rest, click here.

>> Lifestyle Fitness Equipment is again driving expansion. According to co-owners Chip Hunnings and Bill Wagner (formerly of All About Fitness of Denver), the newest of the stores in Greensboro (that would make four) should be open by now, unless a few last-minute build-out issues strike. And another store in Charlotte is next, to make the third in that metropolitan area. In case you missed it, the company also has one in Edmond, Okla., opened in October. SNEWS® View: You wanna bet we don't think that's the last either.

>> Accessories, strength and boxing specialist TKO's first monthly operating report under its Ch. 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan was filed Dec. 8 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Texas. In it, the company stated its reorganization plan, required under the Ch. 11 that the company filed Oct. 11, was "in development stage." The current report included October accounting, income, revenues and sales. It listed total revenues for the month of $917,695, but losses in net income ($314,334) and income before interest, depreciation and taxes ($276,630). For our last more in-depth store on Nov. 4, 2005, regarding TKO's bankruptcy, click here.

>> Real estate developer The Related Companies is buying Equinox Holdings from North Castle Partners and J.W. Childs Associates for $505 million. The sale is expected to close in January 2006. Equinox operates upscale fitness clubs in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and South Florida. Harvey Spevak will continue as Equinox's CEO and president, and the Equinox management team will remain intact. Related, which oversees a $15 billion real estate portfolio, said in a statement that both companies will benefit from a number of key strategic opportunities from the partnership. For Related, it will now have a well-known brand as an anchor tenant for current and future developments, while Equinox will leverage Related's real estate relationships to secure sites, reducing its site identification and club development costs. The two companies already have a luxury condominium project in the works together on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where Equinox will operate a new 35,000-square-foot club. North Castle and J.W. Childs acquired Equinox in December 2000, expanding it from a primarily New York-based business to a national brand with 21 new clubs in four markets and doubling its membership. Revenues have grown from $63 million in 2000 to $168 million for the 12-month period ended September 2005. North Castle, a private equity firm, is the same group that bought Octane Fitness in January 2005.

>> The average IHRSA member club reported total revenues of $2.17 million in 2004, a 4.5 percent increase over the previous year, according to survey data from IHRSA. The association's 2005 edition of the "Profiles of Success" survey also found that clubs increased their earnings (EBITDA) by 8.6 percentage points from 8.0 percent of total revenues in 2003 to 16.6 percent of total revenues in 2004. Overall, industry revenue jumped to $14.8 billion in 2004 from $14.1 billion in 2003. The number of health club members in the United States grew by 4.8 percent over the previous year to 41.3 million and an additional 25.4 million Americans used health clubs as non-members. The number of health clubs in the U.S. grew 14 percent over the previous year to 26,830 clubs as of January 2005. Profiles of Success provides detailed information about health and sports club operations, including data for club revenues, expenses, pricing, equipment purchasing and more.

>> SportsArt Fitness has added James Risner to its commercial sales team, handling the Midwest territory. Risner has worked at both the manufacturer and dealer levels. Most recently, he was a Precor sales manager, and in the past, worked at specialty retailer Busy Body Fitness.

>> Future Olympians will be pumping up with Iron Grip free weight equipment in Turin, Italy. 24 Hour Fitness is creating fitness facilities to allow U.S. athletes to continue their training 24 hours a day throughout the coming 2006 Olympic Winter Games there. Iron Grip was invited to participate in the fitness center project through 24 Hour Fitness, which also donated equipment.

>> To support grassroots running and walking programs inspiring women to get fit,
Moving Comfort will again sponsor a Women's Beginner Fitness Grant Program with grants ranging from $300 to $1,000.
The applicants must be non-profit groups such as running/walking club -- ideally, beginner fitness programs that need assistance in moving their programs to the next level. Applicants will be judged on creativity of proposal, including promotional plans; ability and strategy to work in partnership with local Moving Comfort retailers; organizational experience of club officers or program leaders; number of participants targeted; likelihood of lasting effect on participants; and exposure for Moving Comfort in the local community. Applications must be received (two copies) no later than March 10, 2006. Grantees will be notified by April 14, 2006. For further information, contact Jeff Darman at jdarman@kennett.net or 610-925-1976.

>> Ever wonder how far your run or walk was? The USA Track & Field has developed America's Running Routes, which allows people to map and measure their favorite routes and then save them to a searchable database of running and walking routes in the United States. Using Google Maps technology, America's Running Routes allows users to map out their run using satellite views, and the distance will be displayed, including mile markers along the route. Think others might enjoy your running route? Click the "save" button, and your route will be added to the database for others to enjoy. America's Running Routes allows runners to search for routes in a particular city or to narrow their search to find running routes from hotels, parks, schools, trail heads or running stores. To learn more about America's Running Routes, visit www.usatf.org, and then click on the America's Running Routes icon.

>> Exergaming is getting a new toy from Sony -- EyeToy: Kinetic, made for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, is said to be a fitness product that acts as an in-home personal trainer to create personalized exercise routines with on-the-spot performance evaluations. Different than traditional workout videos, EyeToy: Kinetic provides an interactive fitness experience by utilizing the included EyeToy USB camera and Full Vision Lens to track and analyze a player's move to provide immediate performance feedback. Designed for all fitness levels, EyeToy: Kinetic offers an all-in-one workout program of exercises inspired by aerobics, martial arts, dance, yoga and more, custom tailored to each players' fitness level, schedule and overall objectives. Two virtual personal trainers provide expert guidance and motivation as players embark on either a 12-week training program or mix-up their workout routine by choosing from over 20 exercise routines. The exercises within EyeToy: Kinetic are divided into four themed zones: Cardio, Combat, Toning, and Mind and Body. Each fitness zone targets different body parts with varying levels of difficulty. Additionally, players can train in four different environments: Dojo, Dance Studio, Zen Garden, and Loft. Sony developed the game with Nike Motionworks, a professional sports research lab.

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