Fitness: Did you hear?…Straight feedback from outside the industry, Fitness Master hires rep, Technogym at retail, NSGA hall of fame, Everlast bed linens, and more…

Busy Body/Gyms to Go weathers Hurricane Wilma during expansion, Fitness Factory Outlet selling Technogym in the U.S., research projects $18 billion in holiday revenue, National Board of Fitness Examiners offers first-ever standardized personal trainer test, plus much more...
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For the week of Nov. 1-7

>> Want straight feedback from someone not immersed in fitness equipment tech talk? In talking to a consumer magazine editor about treadmill trends, SNEWS® heard some interesting comments from someone who is not in the industry. Doesn't matter the companies that the editor names here; rather, take the intent to heart: "True, Life, Vision…I guess they're trying to be motivational, but who NAMES these companies?!?!?" … "I looked at the Nautilus company, but it's so confusing. They have so many names, too many. What is up with THAT?" … "The person at the store said True had updated its treadmills, but I couldn't tell the difference except a different color backing." … "I was astounded how quickly I was really annoyed by the beeping noises when I was working the controls." SNEWS® View: Any product development or branding issues here? Hmmmm…

>> Fitness Master Inc. of Farmers Branch, Texas, has hired Larry Morgan as its Southern regional sales rep. Morgan, who was most recently manager of one of the Dallas Fitness Headquarters stores, will cover Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas for dealer distribution of the Fitnex cardio line of products. "We are extremely excited about Larry being on board with us," said Ed Banasky, Fitness Master sales manager. "He brings a retail savvy and vast knowledge of retail fitness with him."
 
>> Busy Body/Gyms to Go, based in Florida, won't let a little thing like Hurricane Wilma get in the way of a planned expansion. No matter that it took a week or so to get computer systems for the chain working (President Carlos Vazquez finally took the mainframe computer from headquarters and set up a command central at his house). No matter that after a week the Pompano Beach store, also where the offices and warehouse are, were without power and damaged. Heck, why would that stop you? A new Orlando location will be open by mid-November; look for Savannah, Ga., by late November or early December; Sarasota, Fla., should be open by mid-December. It seems only the Peachtree City location may not make it this calendar year.

>> Ever wondered about Technogym's possible expansion into selling at retail in the United States? Well, surprise, surprise, Fitness Factory Outlet, the chain of stores in the Chicago area run by Body-Solid, is the sole retail outlet where Technogym is selling equipment to consumers. But it's a well-kept secret, you see, since the equipment is only available in the stores and not on the website or in the catalog. We're told they are doing pretty well too. SNEWS® View: Since the Italy-based company does sell at retail in select areas of Europe -- and well too -- we would expect that this Fitness Factory project is really a bit of a test. It can't be long before Technogym will also try its hand at U.S. retail for the high-end customer in search of its signature sleek, well-designed Euro look -- and with the money to pay for it.

>> Promising a profitable holiday season, Forrester Research predicts that an additional 2.5 million U.S. shoppers will log on to the Internet this season to bring overall online sales revenue to $18 billion. The surge in e-commerce between Thanksgiving and Christmas will bring in 25 percent more revenue than the previous year, according to a recent study Forrester. It also noted that many brick-and-mortar retail stores are using their online channels to attract shoppers, and are offering free shipping as an added incentive.

>> It's a first! The National Board of Fitness Examiners said that for the first time in the history of the fitness industry, a nationally standardized examination for personal trainers is now available. The knowledge-based written component, or Part I, of the Personal Fitness Trainer Examination was developed by the NBFE in conjunction with Thomson-Prometric, a third-party testing organization, and numerous personal training certification organizations. Until the deployment of the National Board examination, it said there were no industry-developed, national standards with which to judge the competency of a certified personal fitness trainer. To take the exam, qualified individuals must complete a personal trainer certification/education program with an NBFE-approved affiliate organization. Part II is expected to be available in 2006. Candidates must pass Part I before they are eligible for Part II. The NBFE (www.NBFE.org) is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 to ensure qualified fitness professionals who have successfully passed the National Board examinations have achieved an approved level of competency in the health and fitness industry.

>> Everlast Worldwide has entered a new licensee with Contrast APS to introduce a series of Everlast-branded products to Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. The Denmark-based company will develop and sell Everlast sports bags, duffels, backpacks, sleeping bags, bed linens, beach towels, bean bag chairs and back-to-school stationary items in the Scandinavian countries.

>> Marking its 50th anniversary, the Sporting Goods Hall of Fame has elected six new Hall of Famers who will be inducted at a special ceremony next May. The inductees include: Alan Cohen, The Finish Line; the late Dave Koch, New Era Cap Co.; Don Pfau, Sports Inc.; Joachim Schroeder, retired from Karstadt Sports (Germany); Jim Soffe, M.J. Soffe Co.; and Edward W. Stack, Dick's Sporting Goods. The election of the Class of 2005 brings the total number of Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Famers to 130. The ceremony will be held May 23 during the 42nd Annual NSGA Management Conference and Eighth Annual Team Dealer Summit, May 21-24, 2006, at The Westin La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, Texas. The Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony is co-sponsored by W.L. Gore & Associates, Mizuno USA and New Balance Athletic Shoe.

>> IHRSA is offering general liability insurance premium credit for all health and fitness clubs that employ personal trainers who are certified by organizations that have been accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies -- the accreditation body of the National Organization for Competency Assurance. The NCCA accreditation serves as a benchmark for how organizations should conduct their certification activities. The insurer, Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company, is providing the credit based on the percentage of NCCA-accredited certified personal trainers on site. All clubs are eligible to earn up to a 10 percent reduction on their rates depending on the individual state schedule rating plan. Clubs with less than 50 percent accredited trainers on staff are not eligible for the discount. Accredited organizations include the American Council on Exercise, the National Strength & Conditioning Association and National Council On Strength and Fitness. Beginning Jan 1, 2006, IHRSA recommends that member clubs hire personal trainers holding at least one current certification from a certifying organization/agency that has begun third-party accreditation of its certification procedures and protocols from an independent, experienced, and nationally recognized accrediting body. IHRSA said the NCCA is an acceptable accrediting organization. Additional information about the insurance benefit is available at www.insureyourclub.com
 
 >> Jeffrey Gitomer will again speak about sales and customer service strategies at the 42nd Annual NSGA Management Conference and Eighth Annual Team Dealer Summit. Gitomer works with clients to improve their sales strategies, sales performance, personal development and memorable service. His first book, "The Sales Bible," has sold more than 150,000 copies. The conference is May 21-24, 2006, at The Westin La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, Texas. Additional details are available at www.nsga.org.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- So why can't a soccer team open and run a health club? No reason, especially in England where soccer reigns supreme and is as or more popular than American football. The Sheffield United Football Club has launched its first health club, called Impact, and revealed plans to roll out the brand nationwide. Impact Health and Fitness features a 165-square-meter (1,800-square-feet), 45-station Life Fitness gym. In addition to a bar and lounge, it also plans an outdoor gym and kids' Impact club. As a community-based facility, staff will be trained to conduct health walks, health awareness days, healthy eating demonstrations and smoking cessation, slimming, cardiac rehabilitation and chair aerobic classes. The club was officially opened Oct. 21. Impact's target membership is 1,000, though six weeks after opening the number of members stands at around 70. Already, it is looking to expand and is eyeing two potential locations For more, go to www.sufc.co.uk. SNEWS® View: Hm, a 49er Health & Fitness Club? A Bears club? How about a Bengals club? Well, why the heck not?

 

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