Fitness: Did you hear?…Treadmill desks for the obsessed, plus Dick's Sporting goods, Cybex's Trazer, Virgin Life Care, and more

Mayo clinic researcher finds a NEAT way to workout, Pennsylvania gives Dick's money to finish headquarters, Consumer Confidence Index dips in July, IHRSA celebrates 25 years with new theme, plus much more...
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For the week of July 26-Aug. 1

>> For the obsessive perhaps? A Mayo clinic researcher has a mini-office set up on a treadmill so he can walk while he works. No, really. James Levine said he hates going to the gym so he worked out his setup with a computer and keyboard on a treadmill and he walks slowly at 1 mph while checking email and doing other work. He says the speed is slow enough to avoid breaking a sweat, but fast enough to burn an extra 100 calories an hour, which amounts to about 1,000 a day (Guess he works 10 hour days). "We're talking more than 50 pounds of weight loss a year," he told an Associated Press reporter recently, while on his treadmill, of course. One of Levine's specialties is what has been dubbed NEAT or "non-exercise activity thermogenesis" -- for the physiology impaired meaning the use of calories by people during everyday activities such as standing, walking or fidgeting. He called his office the "ultimate office makeover." It also has a carpeted "track" around the perimeter so they can hold walking meetings, and walls have marking boards so they can stand during meetings. Levine called it "great fun." SNEWS® View: We know we are personally more of the fidgeting, I'd-rather-stand type of segment of the population who likely burns a couple hundred extra calories a day through that NEAT stuff, but we aren't totally convinced about walking all day on a treadmill. Now, for those equipment companies out there (or retailers with plenty of choices), how about walking meetings? Hold meetings in your showroom with all attending on treadmills or bikes. Now that'll be a wake-up call -- or maybe a reason people will call in sick. We're not sure.

>> The state of Pennsylvania is lending a financial hand to Dick's Sporting Goods to finish its Pittsburgh-area headquarters. Having outgrown its 200,000-square-foot facility, Dick's is spending $64 million to expand and the state is pitching in $10.85 million in state funding. State officials said the money will help create 700 jobs and retain 1,263 others at the company's Findlay Township base. The money comes from the Governor's Action Team, an entity within Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development, charged with attracting and retaining companies to the commonwealth. The package includes a $2 million opportunity grant; $2.1 million in job creation tax credits; $500,000 in customized training grants; $1.25 million in infrastructure development program grants; and $5 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Dick's is also planning to build a four-story, 940-space parking facility on-site.

>> Richard Branson's Virgin has formed an alliance with a U.S. health benefits company to offer a health insurance plan that will reward people for keeping fit and healthy. Initially targeting individuals, the concept is the result of a deal between Humana, provider of a range of health insurance products, and Virgin's new health and fitness reward program, Virgin Life Care, and is aimed at the estimated 43 million to 50 million people who are currently uninsured in the United States. How it works: Virgin installs machines in health clubs throughout the country to monitor its client's health and fitness. Those that check in and exercise regularly would receive free health club membership or choose from other rewards such as discounts on health insurance, travel, mobile phones and music. Virgin has launched a similar program in South Africa with success. The Life Care concept is due to launch in the fourth quarter of 2005.

>> The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index dipped in July to 103.2, down from 106.2 in June. The group said the decline is not a cause for concern and that the overall state of the economy remains healthy and consumers' outlook suggests no storm clouds on the short-term horizon. Even the steady upward tick of fuel prices at the pump has done relatively little to dampen consumers' spirits. It did say, however, while there is little to suggest a downturn in activity, there is also little to suggest a pickup. Consumers' outlook for the next six months was marginally less favorable than in June. Those anticipating business conditions to improve declined to 17.6 percent from 19.5 percent. Consumers expecting business conditions to worsen edged up to 9.6 percent from 9.0 percent. The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households, and is conducted monthly by TNS NFO.

>> Kids' obesity may be on the rise, but you can't blame it all on TV ads. A recent Federal Trade Commission report said the amount of food advertising children see on TV has decreased substantially since 1977. Comparing FTC research in 1977 to Nielsen Media data from 2004, it found that the number of food and fast-food commercials children see, in addition to how many minutes of commercials they are exposed to, is down 33 percent. According to the research, each child aged 2 to 11 saw 2,724 commercials for food or fast food in 2004 vs. 4,100 in 1977. The number of minutes of commercial time was also down, the study said. Children today saw fewer commercials for all products too, according to the study, but the drop in food and fast food was steeper than the decrease in overall products.

>> CTC Groupe, a provider of technical services to the footwear industry, has formed a global collaboration with U.S.-based BioMechanica, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in athletic footwear research and development. They will share technology and resources, collaborate on the development of new materials and product concepts, and jointly market their services worldwide. Through the agreement, BioMechanica will add state-of-the-art testing facilities in Europe and Asia to its resource pool, and provide clients with a transition from research and development in the United States to production in Asia. At the same time, CTC Groupe's clients will have access to expertise in athletic footwear, biomechanics and product innovation. Headquartered in Lyon, France, CTC Groupe has a team of 150 footwear and leather goods products experts working in offices and test laboratories throughout Europe and Asia. Portland, Ore.-based, BioMechanica supports numerous U.S. athletic footwear brands with independent and advanced research, product development and testing services.

>> Now that the summer ispo trade show has ended, ispo BrandNew is shifting forward and seeking applicants for next winter's competition. Applying companies must meet the following criteria: the brand or company must be four years old or less; never have exhibited at ispo; and present innovative products, designs or marketing. A jury of sports industry managers and editors of sports trade magazines will judge the competition and decide the winners. Past recipients have exhibited at ispo and received international media recognition. Entries are due Nov. 4, and can be submitted online at www.ispo-brandnew.com or mailed to: ispo BrandNew Awards, c/o Pascher + Heinz GmbH SportsMarketing Sigmund-Riefler-Bogen 2, D-81829, Munich, Germany. The winter ispo show in 2006 is Jan. 29 to Feb. 1.

>> The International Council on Active Aging has recognized the Cybex/Trazer product as North America's Innovative New Piece of Equipment for active older adults. The council said the Trazer was selected for its unique solution to help older adults increase their physical activity, and improve balance and stability.

>> To commemorate its 25th anniversary, IHRSA said the theme of its 2006 trade show will be "Celebrating Silver. Going for Gold." As its positioning statement and overarching theme of the event, the association said it captures the significance of the anniversary for it and the industry at large. A new logo has been created for use on all materials for the show, which is scheduled March 20-23 in Las Vegas.

>> File this under bizarre: A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty to phoning in multiple death threats to a health club in March. Seems Lee Horowitz was trying to track down a female employee at his new gym, Executive Health & Sports Center in Londonderry, N.H. When he couldn't get through to her, he told a male employee that he was going to blow up the club and kill two workers, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. About 100 patrons were evacuated after the threats were made and police searched the area, using bomb-sniffing dogs. No explosive devices were found. The calls were traced to Horowitz in Havertown, Pa. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 27, faces a maximum prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine.

>> If you can look for love online, why not a workout partner? Two websites are capitalizing on the fast-growing trend of special interest websites that connect shared passions with the public's love of the Internet for specialty networking, online dating and information exchange. Launched in early 2003, www.sportsfanmatch.com and www.fitnessfansmatch.com are tailored to the growing number of singles of all ages, sports aficionados, families and millions of others who take sports, physical fitness and fitness training seriously. Users can create a member profile with several options including posting a picture and their specific sports or fitness interest. Once signed on, both sites offer members a variety of networking and information options, including general sports/fitness networking to find a local workout partner. Other site features include articles and "ask the expert" advice on fitness, nutrition, training, relationships and much more. There are also audio and video chatting options, the ability to create personal blogs, horoscopes and -- for parents -- finding local sports activity options for their kids. Each site offers a free three-day trial membership. A full-access, one-month individual membership -- which allows access to both websites -- is $21.95.

>> What motivates senior execs and managers to go to work everyday? Challenge (78 percent), pride in their job (69 percent), responsibility (66 percent) and compensation (65 percent) are the top four motivations, according to a study from NFI Research. Significant differences were found between senior executives and managers regarding their No. 1 motivation. For senior executives, it was challenge (85 percent) compared to 71 percent of managers. Seventy-four percent of managers said compensation was their motivating factor. As the company size increases so does the motivation of compensation: 60 percent in small businesses (1-500 employees), 64 percent in medium (500-9,999), and 77 percent in large (10,000+). Senior executives and managers overwhelmingly (84 percent) say they think compensation is a motivation for their subordinates. People they work with (61 percent) and pride in their job (56 percent) finish the top motivations senior executives and managers think motivate their subordinates. NFI Research (www.nfiresearch.com) is a U.S.-based research firm that identifies and analyzes trends and attitudes in business and organizational management.

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