Fitness: Did you hear?...Heart Zones conference unites fitness and technology, plus Gaiam, Health Fitness Corp., 24 Hour Fitness lawsuit, President Bush, and more.

Heart Zones Conference set for Oct. 14-16, Gaiam enters alliance to accelerate the concept of healthy living, Health Fitness Corp. ranks on IHRSA's Global 25 list, plus much more...
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For the week of Aug. 2-8

>> Interesting in heart-rate monitoring, its advancing technology and what it may mean to your customers? Take a look at this year's Heart Zones Conference 2005. The meeting that unites fitness and technology is ramping up for its Oct. 14-16 event in Denver, Colo. The theme of this year's conference is, "There's a New Way" to get fit and fitter. Athletes, fitness enthusiasts, physical education teachers, healthcare specialists, indoor cycle instructors, and fitness trainers will converge at the University of Denver campus to experience the latest and state-of-art training technology applications and their companion software. The conference showcases heart rate monitors, GPS monitors, web-based interactive programs, and metabolic testing and measurements. For a list of seminar topics and to register, visit www.heartzones.com or contact Kathy Kent of Heart Zones Cycling and Personal Training at 630-961-9560.

>> Gaiam seems to be on a wellness mission as it enters into a new strategic relationship with Revolution Living and LIME Media designed to accelerate mainstream acceptance of what it calls the LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) markets. The two companies said they hope to be at the forefront of delivering media and products to people seeking to live healthier, more balanced lives. Revolution Living (www.revolution.com), founded earlier this year, invests in businesses that promote healthy and balanced living. It has a controlling interest in Miraval: Life In Balance, the nation's highest rated resort destination spa company, and Wisdom Media, recently re-branded to LIME Media (www.limemedia.net), a multi-platform television and radio media network. Under the terms of the transaction, Revolution Living will initially invest $20 million in Gaiam to acquire 2.5 million newly issued unregistered shares. This initial valuation represents approximately the 30 trading day average price for Gaiam shares. Revolution Living has a subsequent option to purchase shares from Gaiam founder Jirka Rysavy, at which point Revolution Living and Rysavy would have the same ownership stake and voting rights and Revolution founder Steve Case will join the Gaiam board of directors. They will also execute a shareholder agreement providing, among other things, for a standstill regarding the buying and selling of Gaiam shares for at least four years and an optional buy-sell agreement. Simultaneously, Gaiam will commit $7 million to purchase a minority interest in LIME Media, a cable TV and radio broadcasting focused on personal growth, spiritual development, healthy living, and sustainability, in which Revolution Living holds a controlling interest. Also, Gaiam and LIME are entering into a series of cross marketing, distribution and promotional agreements, which includes Gaiam becoming LIME's exclusive retail distributor of DVD programming and LIME becoming the exclusive broadcast distributor of new Gaiam "how to" programming. Gaiam will also promote LIME services in its catalog publications, and LIME will air advertising spots for Gaiam. Gaiam's Rysavy and Lynn Powers will join LIME's board of directors. Last month, Gaiam (www.gaiam.com) announced an agreement to acquire GoodTimes Entertainment, which is expected to bring its annual revenue to over $200 million.

>> Health Fitness Corp. (HFIT.OB) is among the largest and most successful health and fitness companies in the United States, according to a newly released ranking by IHRSA's Club Business International magazine. In the annual "Global 25" survey conducted by the IHRSA magazine, Health Fitness (http://www.hfit.com) ranks third among the country's top 25 health and fitness companies in the category of unit growth with a total of 400 units under management at the end of 2004 versus 200 units the year before -- a 100 percent increase. The company's five-year unit growth -- from 129 units to 400, placed it in fifth place among the Global 25. In total members served by its clubs, a category that includes such global companies as Curves International and Bally Total Fitness, Health Fitness ranked 21st with 220,000 members as of the end of last year. In the category of year-to-year revenue growth over the past two years, the survey listed Health Fitness as the fifth most successful company in this category with 2004 revenues of $53 million, up 66 percent increase of $32 million in revenues the prior year.

>> ITALY -- According to Italy's AGI online, Milan is the leader of the pack, boasting 1,859 fitness centers in Italy -- the most in the country among its 25,698 facilities. Rome follows with 1,103, Turin is close on its heels with 1,073, and Naples has 916. According to a survey of Milan's Chamber of Commerce, the number of gyms increased by 21.9 percent from 2000 to 2004, fitness and beauty "farms" by 90.6 percent, aesthetic centers by 27 percent.

>> The family of Nick Pombra has filed suit against 24 Hour Fitness Inc., in Los Angeles Superior Court, at the Central Courthouse, for negligent failure to equip its health clubs with automatic external defibrillators, thereby causing his death. On July 26, 2004, Pombra, 41, who reportedly had no history of heart trouble and was in good health, was working out on a treadmill at a Los Angeles 24 Hour Fitness facility, when he suddenly collapsed in a state of cardiac arrest. The health club had no automatic external defibrillator (AED) on site and therefore could not promptly defibrillate Pombra. In addition, the suit alleges that the staff delayed in calling for medical help. The suit notes that it has been three years since the American Heart Association declared that all health clubs should be equipped with AEDs, and is holding 24 Hour Fitness responsible for his death. Nick Pombra was an actor, using the screen name Nick Palmer, and appeared in the movies "Down With Love," "Seventh Heaven" and "Catch Me If You Can."

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- Looking to focus more on the premium U.K. market and to dump loss-making sites in Continental Europe, health club operator Esporta has sold 13 non-core clubs to Virgin Active for an undisclosed price. The deal includes the six Esporta clubs in Spain and marks the company's exit from the Spanish market. The package also included the sale of seven UK clubs: Rugby, Chelmsford, Bolton, Crawley, Birmingham, Gloucester and Medway. Esporta is also looking to sell its remaining clubs in Germany and Sweden. No word yet on what Virgin Active plans to do with the new clubs.

>> Although, President Bush got a clean bill of health in his recent annual physical, he's taken a few hits on his track record in funding physical education in public schools and women's athletic programs at the college level, according to an article from U.S. Newswire. Bush's 2006 budget request cut physical education funding for students in kindergarten through 12th grade by $18.4 million -- the "first year of a 2-year phase out of the program in order to redirect resources to higher-priority activities." The U.S. Newswire also reported that the Bush administration's Education Department quietly issued a new clarification of the regulations interpreting Title IX. The new rules allow colleges to demonstrate that they are satisfying the demand for women's sports with an online survey showing that female students have no unmet sports interests. Even if the non-response rate is high in the survey, non-response is to be interpreted as a lack of interest, according to the Education Department. To read the article in its entirety, click here.

>> UNITED KINDGOM -- A group that sets standards for the European health and fitness industry is developing a regulatory system for instructors, teachers and trainers working in the European Union. The so-called European Register of Exercise Professionals could be launched by the European Health and Fitness Association (EHFA) by Fall 2005, the group said. The registry, called EREP, is intended to support the development of national registers in European countries. So far EHFA said it believes there are eight, all of which have signed up for the initiative. EREP will build on the work of the U.K.'s own register – the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) – and aims to raise the standards, qualifications and skills of exercise professionals working in Europe. The planned EREP will be regulated by EHFA through an agreed European knowledge and competence framework of standards that is managed and reviewed by the EHFA Standards Council. Each national register will have a verification body to determine the technical criteria for what constitutes a fitness qualification within that country following the criteria set by EREP's Regulatory Board. Another goal is to fitness to governments and the EU Commission.

>> With the number of older Americans expected to more than double to 70 million by 2030, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, groups like the International Council on Active Aging are looking for ways to keep mature adults active and healthy. The council has named SilverSneakers, a HealthCare Dimensions fitness program designed for older adults, its official group exercise partner. HCD works with Medicare Advantage health plans and Medicare Supplement carriers to offer the program to older adults in selected fitness centers and class sites across the United States. SilverSneakers (www.silversneakers.com) includes a free basic membership to a network fitness center, with access to all amenities and the program's signature group exercise class. Members also can participate in health seminars and workshops. Additionally, SilverSneakers' national reciprocity program allows members to use any participating fitness center across the nation.

>> The American Council on Exercise has aligned itself with SCW Fitness Education to offer a variety of fitness instructor education programs. In a collaborative effort, they'll work together to offer increased continuing education and certification opportunities for ACE-certified and other fitness professionals and attendees of SCW Mania conventions. Programs will include specialty certificates, home-study programs, Mania conventions and products ranging from Pilates to pregnancy and aquatics to aging. ACE will also now host its professional forums at various SCW Mania events throughout the year. SCW will also offer ACE Certification exams and continue to offer ACE-approved continuing education courses at its events.

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