Fitness: Did you hear?… Phoenix's Fitness4Home grows, Advantage Fitness/Idaho does too, plus ispo show, Life Time Fitness, Modell's, Everlast, NSGA, Fit Hotel Directory, plus much more…

Fitness4Home readies for third store opening, Advantage Fitness expands into Spokane, Senate votes 'no' to increase federal minimum wage, SBA releases FAQ, plus much more...
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For the week of Oct. 18-24

>> Bob Lachniet, who opened Fitness4Home Superstore in the Phoenix area less than a year ago, is readying his third store for a December opening. To be located in the booming Glendale area, the store will be about 4,000 square feet. It joins the first store in Scottsdale and the second store in the Ahwatukee area, which is the company's largest and houses the corporate offices as well as a personal training studio. Fitness4Home also recently was awarded "Rookie of the Year" kudos as best new dealer by True Fitness, TuffStuff and SportsArt. Check out the growing company at its newly launched website, www.Fitness4HomeSuperstore.com.

>> GERMANY -- Tobias Groeber has been named to head the project group overseeing the ispo winter and summer sporting goods shows. Most recently, Groeber had overseen the outdoor, running, and ski areas, and had worked directly with former director Peter Knoll in the last 8.5 years on the overhaul and reworking of the ispo image, format and direction. "It will certainly be a challenge but it also a huge opportunity for me," Groeber told SNEWS®. "Personally I regret losing Peter as a colleague here since we worked so closely together for so long." Ispo is in the process of seeking a replacement for Groeber's role. Knoll has moved on to to become the general manager for Quiksilver for Germany and other central European countries, as well as Eastern Europe and Russia.

>> Nearly three years old now, Advantage Fitness of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, has opened its second location in Spokane, Wash. Founder and owner Frank Garcia says business is good just a month into the second location that is a mere 2,500 square feet. Advantage carries Life Fitness, Landice, Pacemaster, Vision, LifeSpan, Hoist, Parabody and Vectra. "We hope to make as much an impact for the Spokane community in the continuance of providing health and fitness education and high quality equipment," Garcia said. See more at www.advantage-fitness.com.

>> Club-operator Life Time Fitness is partnering with healthcare-provider Destiny Health to offer members of The Destiny Health Plan membership dues rebates at Life Time Fitness centers. Under the partnership, plan members who exercise at a Life Time Fitness center at least 48 times per year will receive up to a 100 percent rebate from Destiny Health on monthly Life Time Fitness center membership dues based upon the member's Vitality status. Additionally, plan members may take advantage of a free, comprehensive personal fitness assessment, an individualized health and wellness action plan, and other Life Time Fitness education, exercise and nutrition services and products.

>> Modell's Sporting Goods presented Everlast Worldwide with its annual Vendor MVP award. One of Modell's largest vendors, Everlast was chosen as a result of its performance as one of the sporting goods retailer's top strategic partners.

>> Also, Everlast Worldwide is expanding its licensing relationship with M&M Fitness Equipment, which will produce Everlast-branded neoprene and elasticized joint braces and wraps for sports and exercise use. They can also be used for recovering from sports-related injuries. Products are expected to be available by the first quarter of next year and will be sold through select sporting goods retailers around the United States. M&M Fitness currently serves as Everlast's licensee for aerobic and weightlifting equipment in the United States and Canada. Wanna know who M&M is? If you don't know, you missed the SNEWS® July 15, 2005, investigation, "Modell's is the one behind Everlast fitness equipment by 'M & M Fitness.'"

>> Nike's 175-acre world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., is the first West Coast corporate campus to earn Salmon-Safe certification. Established in 1996, the rigorous Salmon-Safe standards encourage agricultural landowners to go above and beyond regulations to improve habitat so that salmon can return to native streams and spawn and thrive. Based on Salmon-Safe's independent certification process, an operation is considered Salmon-Safe when both its impact upon aquatic ecosystems is assessed and any negative impacts on water quality and fish habitat are minimized. Salmon-Safe certification includes on-site inspection by qualified inspectors to ensure that growers are meeting the standards which have been set. As part of its certification, Nike will add to its program to minimize stormwater runoff from buildings and parking lots by developing a long-term plan to continue to restore the Cedar Mill Stream on its campus, developing policies to further shift away from chemical pesticides, and increasing water conservation.

>> Efforts to increase the federal minimum wage have been deterred as the Senate voted "no" to the measure on Oct. 19. The lowest allowable wage, $5.15 an hour, has been in effect since 1997. A labor-backed measure by Sen. Edward Kennedy would have raised the minimum to $6.25 over an 18-month period. The amendment to a spending bill went down 51-47, and the GOP alternative 57-42. Under a Senate agreement, they would have needed 60 votes for approval. Kennedy had modified the proposal, which originally called for a $2.15 increase over 26 months, in hopes of attracting more Republicans. Republican opponents, echoing the arguments of business groups, said higher minimum wages can work against workers if they force small businesses to cut payrolls or go out of business. Republican Sen. Mike Enzi offered a proposal that would provide tax and regulatory relief for small business, permit tips to be credited in complying with minimum wage hikes and expand the small business exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act. It also would have put into law a "flextime" system, opposed by organized labor as an assault on overtime pay, under which workers could work more in one week and take time off the next. Both proposals, amendments to a fiscal 2006 spending bill, needed 60 votes to pass.

>> Tired of missing your workouts while on the road? Or, worse yet, being crammed in a tiny room with outdated equipment? You're not alone. A survey of 300 business travelers conducted by Lieberman Research Worldwide found that hotel fitness rooms frequently disappoint. Sixty-four percent of business travelers say that hotel fitness rooms "seem like an afterthought," 75 percent say the quality of workout rooms is inconsistent from one hotel to the next, and more than half the travelers (55 percent) decided not to use a hotel workout room because it was in such bad condition. FitHotelDirectory.com is addressing the demand for quality, in-hotel fitness equipment with its directory of hotels with top-notch gyms and fitness rooms. Fit Hotel Directory (http://www.fithoteldirectory.com/), organized geographically, lists each hotel's contact information and amenities, a description of the workout facility when provided, as well as color photographs. Visitors can search for a hotel by clicking your choice of state and city. It plans to launch international sections in early 2006.

>> SNEWS® Reports Research: Last week we wrote about an ACE-sponsored study that said yoga didn't induce weight loss. Well, maybe not directly, but perhaps indirectly. Although many yoga classes aren't rigorous enough to give a serious calorie burn, researchers in another study said it helps some eat less in general and, subsequently, lose weight. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle studied 15,500 people ages 53 to 57, who reported on their exercise and weight history from their 20s on up. Normal-weight volunteers who practiced yoga regularly (at least 30 minutes once a week for four or more years) gained three fewer pounds than non-yogis over 10 years, the study found. Overweight people lost five pounds, and those who didn't do any yoga gained nearly 14 pounds. Lead author Alan Kristal said, "Yoga makes you more aware of your body. So when you've eaten enough, you're sensitive to feeling full, and this makes it easier to stop."

>> Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms and employ half of all private sector employees, according to the 2005 Small Business FAQ, released by the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Other factoids gleaned: Two-thirds of new employer establishments survive at least two years after start-up, and 44 percent survive at least four years. In 2004, an estimated 580,900 employer firms opened, while an estimated 576,200 closed. Firms with fewer than 20 employees spend 45 percent more per employee than the largest firms to comply with federal regulations. Over the past decade, small business net job creation fluctuated between 60 percent and 80 percent. Small businesses generate more than 50 percent of the nonfarm private gross domestic product. Lastly, women own 6.5 million businesses that generate $950.6 billion in revenues, and employ 7.2 million workers. To obtain a copy of the 2005 SmallBusiness FAQ, click here.

>> A 2005 survey found that while the rate of unscheduled absenteeism barely budged since last year, the average per-employee cost has risen to $660 per employee -- costing some large employers over $1 million per year. What may be of most concern to employers is that almost two out of three employees who fail to show up for work aren't physically ill, according to the Unscheduled Absence Survey by CCH, a provider of human resources and employment law information. The survey found that personal illness accounts for only 35 percent of unscheduled absences, while 65 percent of absences are due to other reasons, including family issues (21 percent), personal needs (18 percent), entitlement mentality (14 percent) and stress (12 percent). The absenteeism rate was 2.3 percent in 2005 down slightly from 2.4 percent last year, the study found, while the average cost of absenteeism rose to $660 per person per year, up from $610 in 2004. The survey only measures direct payroll costs for paid, unproductive time. The high cost of absenteeism hurts organizations even more when other costs, such as lost productivity, morale and temporary labor costs, are considered, CCH said. Companies with low morale saw higher rates and costs of unscheduled absences. The rate of unscheduled absenteeism is twice as high at companies with poor/fair morale (3.2 percent) than those with good/very good morale (1.5 percent). Conducted for CCH by Harris Interactive, the Unscheduled Absence Survey has been done annually for the last 15 years. To review CCH's findings on employee absenteeism and employer trends over the past 15 years, check out http://www.cch.com/absenteeism2005.

>> Total apprehensions of both shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2004 increased nearly 5 percent from 2003, according to the 17th Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by Jack L. Hayes International, an inventory control consulting firm based in Florida. The survey analysts noted that the rising number of apprehensions indicates that retailers are getting better at detecting theft but more people are also attempting to steal. Losses from retail theft are reported to be more than $30 billion annually in the United States, triple the number of 10 years ago, according to the study. For every $1 recovered, $36.47 is lost to retail theft, it said. In a sampling of more than 1.7 million employees, nearly one in every 28 was apprehended for theft from their employer, according to the study. Another study, the 2004 National Retail Security Survey, said employee theft accounts for 47 percent of such losses. There is no other form of larceny that annually costs Americans more money than employee theft, according to the report. Shoplifting is credited for 34 percent of the retail industry's total losses -- and it's been growing each year since 2000. According to the FBI's uniform crime reports, shoplifting is nearly equivalent to the cost of auto theft, the report said.

>> How not to make friends with the media: Want to be sure the media regards your company with added scrutiny when things aren't going so well? Then be sure to return a call with a friendly tone and then when you find out who it is, comment angrily, "Well, if I'd known it was you, I wouldn't have returned your call." SNEWS® View: Any company representative who does this (and it happened to us recently while investigating a story, we kid you not) should be placed in remedial PR classes by his or her company and forced to sit in the corner with a dunce cap. There are professional ways to handle inquiries from the media, and this is not one of them!

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