Fitness: Movin’ & Shakin’ – New FitBiz rankings chart to download; plus Fitco, Workout World, Creative Playthings, Fitness Master and more…

The latest people and company announcements in the fitness industry: FitBiz by SNEWS corrects American Home Fitness numbers, Fitco celebrates a decade in business, Workout World plans Beverly Hills show-stopper; plus Creative Playthings, Matrix Fitness, Fitness Master, Ironcompany.com, Fitness Boutique, LA Fitness, research notes and much more…
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Got any news or tips about somebody, some product or some company doing some moving or shaking? Let us know so we can slip it into our occasional Movin' & Shakin' updates. Just email snewsbox@snewsnet.com.

Fitbiz by SNEWS

  • In the 2011 edition of FitBiz by SNEWS, American Home Fitness was ranked incorrectly. At the close of 2010, the business based in Troy, Mich., had nine retail outlets. That number changed to 21 in the “Home Fitness Group” (at the end of 2010 with just American, Utah and Precor home fitness centers), moving that group to No. 3 on the list overall, just above Fitness Resource, which was pushed to No. 4. We apologize for the error and, as always, look forward to our readers telling us if we miscounted retail noses! With so many changes in the last few years, it’s turned into a game of who’s-on-first-base….See the corrected story and charts.

Retailers/Dealers

  • Fitco Fitness (www.fitcofitness.com) celebrated its first decade in business recently with an open house at its Texas headquarters. The offices were filled with an invite-only group of customers. In fact, we were told the folks at Fitco lost count of how many attendees there were since so many unexpected guests showed up with an RSVP. The goal was not only to hold an anniversary celebration but also to showcase the new Precor Experience series, the Simplicity Strength series, the Trixter indoor cycle and Xdream, we were told by marketing director,Kylee Nagurney. Co-owner David Novit said the event was pulled together by inside sales team members Jennifer Severence, McKenzie Underwood, Jennifer Evans, Stephanie Elliott and Kelly Castonguay.
  • AXA Private Equity has acquired stake in the French online and brick-and-mortar retailer Fitness Boutique (www.fitnessboutique.fr ). AXA now owns a 22-percent interest in the retailer of fitness equipment and nutritional supplements, Fitness Boutique director and founder Stephane Viscuso announced. The business, founded in 1999, is based in Grenoble, France, and was the first in France to operate a website dedicated to fitness, training and nutritional products. It has since expanded to Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and Switzerland. Fitness Boutique operates 23 stores in France and two in Spain, and had revenues in 2010 of EUR 21.4 million (USD $30.5 million, based on current currency rates) with an 18-percent growth over 2009.
  • Australia’s Workout World continues its retail expansion in California (www.workoutworldusa.com) and will finish its delayed move into a third site in Beverly Hills in July. That location is a 6,000-square-foot space on Wilshire Boulevard just down from Rodeo Drive, we are told – with a rent that, well, speaks to the location and the expected clientele. Said Darren Piggins, WOW owner, “This will be a show stopper.” He said it would have rooms set up with equipment to show customers how it would look in their homes. The stores planned in the United States, part of an arm of the business launched in spring, will continue to be a showcase for the company’s Cardiogym, with the new CG6 just launching in late June.
  • Creative Playthings, the manufacturer of high-end wooden play equipment and swing sets, is planning to add fitness equipment to two more of its stores in the Boston area for the coming season, Creative Playthings owner Donald Hoffman told SNEWS. The group began with fitness equipment at one store in November 2010. “Our Acton, Mass., store has met our sales expectations, … and we continue to be optimistic about the retail viability of the counter-seasonal combination for residential fitness equipment and play sets.”
  • Dot-com retailer Ironcompany.com has added LPG Muscle, JD Max Fitness and Jammar Manufacturing Company to its catalog. Ironcompany.com, founded in 1997, is a supplier for home, commercial and vertical market equipment.

Suppliers / Clubs

  • LA Fitness has found opportunity in shuttered department store locations, the Wall Street Journal reported. Later this summer it will open a 62,000-square-foot gym in a former Mervyn’s location that went dark two years ago. LA Fitness has taken over other vacant Mervyn’s and former Circuit City locations.
  • Andy Richters has joined Matrix Fitness as the vice president of national accounts. He came from Star Trac, where he also served as vice president of national accounts. In addition, Mary Dixon has joined Johnson Health Tech North America's Matrix Fitness sales force. Dixon, a 17-year industry veteran, has joined the team as the vertical market key account manager to oversee new business development and account services with national vertical accounts. 
  • Fitness Master has added three inside sales staff members to help with the continued growth of FMI. Tristan Duong will handle accounts in the western region, Terri Ozymy for the central region, and Emmett Bradford for the eastern region of the states.
  • HealthCity, led by Rene Moos and based in the Netherlands has taken over Fitness First France, Spain and Italy. The group has 45 clubs: 12 in France, 16 in Spain and 17 in Italy. Fitness First said it will shift its focus to developing countries, particularly in Asia. This sale follows one last November of the Fitness First branches in the Benelux to HealthCity. This takes HealthCity to 259 clubs with more than half a million members.
  • Creative Fitness Marketing, the authorized distributor of MyZone products, has hired Phil Williams, formerly head of commercial and NGO partnerships for the United Kingdom Department of Health’s Change4Life program, as the company’s head of marketing and communications. Click here to see a July 1, 2011, SNEWS® story about MyZone.
  • CNN Money recently called Anytime Fitness a “great franchise bet.” It named the chain as that – among 10 with that accolade – based on its rapid growth. Anytime Fitness has opened nearly 1,600 clubs in less than 10 years and has a low loan failure rate among its franchisees – of 147 SBA-backed loans there were only four defaults between 2005 and 2010, CNN reported. The full text of the article listing Anytime Fitness as a "Great Franchise Bet" can be found at CNNMoney.com

Research

  • The fitness market in Germany continues to grow, research revealed, reaching a record high in health club members at the end of 2010. According to the Deloitte study, there were 7.31 million club members at 7,114 fitness facilities in Germany. Pre-tax sales were about EUR 3.9 billion (USD $5.5 billion according to current exchange rates). The market leader is a discount chain called McFit, with had nearly 1 million members alone. Clubs that participated reported optimism with seven of 10 private clubs and two-thirds of chains predicting more members and higher revenues in 2011.
  • The CPI for sporting goods continued to remain negative, reported the NSGA, falling by 4.9 percent in May – the largest monthly decline since the 4.9-percent decline in January 2000. The decline in May 2011 followed a 3.8-percent decline in April and a 4.1-percent decline in March. The last time that the CPI for sporting goods was positive was October 2009. The CPI for All Items, which has remained positive since November 2009, rose 3.6 percent in May 2011.

  • Also reported by the NSGA: Sporting goods store sales in April rose 5.7 percent according to the Monthly Retail Trade Survey prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase, though slightly less than the 5.8-percent increase for the same month in 2010, was the biggest so far in 2011. Sales for 2010 were $40.2 billion, up 6.6 percent for the year.

Advocacy and networking

  • The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, has announced that it received a $23.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to expand its Healthy Schools Program through 2014. The foundation has awarded the alliance more than $51 million to transform schools into healthier places. The Healthy Schools Program helps schools develop and implement policies and practices that promote healthy eating and increase physical activity before, during and after school for students and staff, by providing free training and resources to nationwide schools. Any U.S. school or individual can enroll in the Healthy Schools Program and receive support for details go to www.HealthierGeneration.org.

--Therese Iknoian

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