Fitness: Did you hear?... Nautilus and Icon reach settlement in Crossbar suit, plus Everlast's George Horowitz, insider fitness stock trading, Matrix Fitness, Star Trac, research on exercise and depression, and more…

Nautilus and Icon reach settlement in Crossbar suit, Everlast's George Horowitz passes away, insiders stalk fitness stocks, get a peek at Matrix's hybrid bike, steppers draw crowd at Club Industry, plus more...
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For Nov. 22 to Dec. 5

>> Nautilus Inc. and Icon Fitness have reached a settlement in a trademark infringement case filed in 2004 relating to Icon's Crossbar equipment. The case was filed by Nautilus after Icon changed its Crossbow name to Crossbar based on an injunction received by Nautilus in a still-pending trademark infringement suit. "We've reached a voluntary and mutually agreeable settlement on the Crossbar trademark matter, terms by which are confidential," SNEWS® was told by a Nautilus spokesman. The trademark suit on the Crossbow issue is on hold while a patent case is being decided, although Nautilus last week asked the court to allow that trademark case to go forward while awaiting the results of a federal appeal on the ruling that had come down in Icon's favor. (Click here for Nov. 17, 2005, SNEWS® story, "Jury finds in favor of Icon's false advertising claims against Nautilus.")

>> George Q Horowitz, chairman and CEO of Everlast, has passed away after a fight with kidney cancer, the company has announced. He was 55. "Our entire Everlast organization mourns this tragic loss," said Jim Anderson, vice chairman of the board. "George was a brilliant man who brought tremendous leadership, energy and passion to his job which revitalized the Everlast brand to become a worldwide name in over 100 countries during his five plus year tenure as CEO and chairman. He made an indelible mark not only on the Everlast brand and legacy but inside and outside the professional and amateur boxing ring." Horowitz became CEO and chairman of Everlast in October 2000 after merging his company, Active Apparel Group Inc., into Everlast Holdings Corp., a privately held company. George founded Active Apparel Group in 1992. George Horowitz spent over 30 years within the apparel and sporting goods businesses, prior to which he was an educator in the New York City school systems. He was very active in charitable organizations, and a board member of both the American Heart Association and the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association. Seth Horowitz has been appointed chief executive officer and chairman of the board. He will continue his roll as president.

>> Seems insider traders are keeping an eye on two fitness stocks, according to a story in Barrons online: Bally Total Fitness and Nautilus. The Dec. 2, 2005 story said traders are snapping up both companies in hopes of turnarounds. At Bally, "the stock has been inflated with all this cage rattling," Ben Silverman, research director of InsiderScore.com, told Barrons, attributing the rally in Bally's stock to activist shareholders. Meanwhile, Nautilus is a "growth story that is priced very reasonably to me," Harris Hall, director of equity research at Singular Research, told Barrons, noting double-digit earnings growth outlooks for the company.

>> Note a full-page Sears ad that was in national daily newspapers on Thanksgiving Day: FILLING the page was a ProForm elliptical, and surrounding it were excerpts from various news stories that had nothing to do with the elliptical or with Sears or with shopping. Interestingly the surrounding text, slightly grayed-out, made you look real hard at it, thinking you were missing something, then made you really notice the elliptical. Once you sized all that up, you noted some print that said simply, "After Thanksgiving Sales, Friday and Saturday Only, Wish Big, Sears."

>> Star Trac had a bit of a crowd going at the recent Club Industry show due to, yes, steppers. No, really. And you thought they were passé? Maybe not, mon ami. The show was the official debut of the company's (relatively) new CrossTrainer and Pro Stepper. Because of that, Star Trac ran a promotion focusing on a program called Famous Steps (stairs that people know). This promotion allowed participants to race to the top of the Sears Tower, well, figuratively speaking since they were on the steppers indoors a few miles away. Not only was there a waiting line for much of the show, but there was a three-way tie for top stepper, each of whom made it to the top in 13 minutes and 51 seconds (on level 20 the entire time, we were told). "I am not claiming we are going to completely revive that (stepper) market, but it was nice to see the interest," said vice president Terry Woods. Winners (women, all!) of their own Pro Stepper were: Tiffany Dixon, Chrysalis Fitness Center, Bowling Green, Ohio; Tracie Booth, Wilson's Total Fitness, Jefferson City, Mo.; Cheri Wynne, Somerset Athletic Club, Somerset, Ky.

>> Matrix Fitness has added to its sales team with Steve Berghs as the North Central Territory Manager. Berghs will cover North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Berghs joins Matrix with over 13 years of commercial fitness equipment sales including terms with Magnum Fitness Systems and Nautilus, and also for a period of time as an Independent Representative.

>> Speaking of Matrix: If you read about its new hybrid bike (combo upright and recumbent) in SNEWS® but haven't had a chance to see it, take a peek to the right (you won't see this in your Digest, only online so log-in to view). Thoughts?

>> GERMANY – Do you assume the Internet is omnipresent at businesses? That may be assuming too much, according to a study of businesses in Germany by the Netzwerk Elektronischer Geschaeftsverkehr (NEG), which is an association founded in 1998 and under government contract researches the status of Internet usage in small and middle-sized businesses in that country. More than 3,400 businesses took part in the latest survey – with more than half having less than 10 employees. Results indicated that most of these small and middle-sized businesses are taking advantage of the Internet as a communication means, but figuring out, using and implementing e-tail has presented large problems. Most say they just don't know enough to do it or don't have anybody who can help them analyze their needs and put a program into place for them. Still, things like websites, email contact with customers and electronic newsletters are important for the businesses. The NEG will follow the developments through 2008.

>> Effective Jan. 9, Gwen Manto will join Dick's Sporting Goods as executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, replacing the retiring Gary Sterling. Manto will be responsible for all areas of merchandising as well as private label sourcing, merchandising planning, replenishment and allocation. She joins Dick's with more than 30 years of industry experience, most recently as executive vice president of softlines for Sears, Roebuck & Company, where her responsibilities encompassed revenue of $6.5 billion, and she led the effort to focus, segment and differentiate Sears' assortment in the apparel and soft home categories. She's also held high-level positions with Stein Mart, Kid's Foot Locker, Kids "R" Us and Babies "R" Us.

>> SNEWS® Reports Research: Exercise seems to help severe depression, according to the December issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter (www.health.harvard.edu/mental). Studies have shown it helps, but with several qualifications, including possible reasons for a mood-enhancing effect from exercise, including enhanced body image, increased social support from exercise groups, more distraction from everyday worries, heightened self-confidence from meeting a goal, and altered circulation of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and the endorphins. The letter goes on to say that "exercise may also serve as a form of predictable stress that supplies a kind of 'vaccination' against the uncontrolled stress that leads to depression and anxiety. Still, researchers aren't really sure since even controlled trials on the subject often have problems, such as insufficient follow-up, the difficulty of correcting for the effect of expectations, and the fact that people who volunteer for exercise studies are not necessarily typical. But does that matter? No, note the editors. If exercise seems to help, it certainly does not harm and has other health benefits. Final tips from the folks at the Harvard Health Letter: Low motivation is a problem. People are often told to find an activity they enjoy, but depressed people don't enjoy anything much. So it's necessary to begin slowly and remember that exercise does not have to be strenuous to be helpful. Walking, gardening, or household work will do.

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