Health & Fitness Business '09: Product preview, SNEWS forum, parties and more

Only days before the kick-off of the 2009 Health & Fitness Business Show, events, education, parties and products won't lack despite an audience forecast to be smaller. "While there is a great deal of uncertainty in the retail fitness marketplace, show management has done everything possible to secure the most powerful buying audience possible," said show director Andy Tompkins of the show in Denver, Aug. 6-7.

Only days before the kick-off of the 2009 Health & Fitness Business Show, events, education, parties and products won't lack despite an audience forecast to be smaller.

"While there is a great deal of uncertainty in the retail fitness marketplace, show management has done everything possible to secure the most powerful buying audience possible," said show director Andy Tompkins of the show in Denver, Aug. 6-7.

"Our pre-registration list includes the best specialty, sporting goods, online and mass merchant retailers, including over 70 new retailers and an audience from 27 states and Canada.

"While we do expect show attendance to be down from last year, we do anticipate providing a similar metric of dealers to exhibiting brands as years past and feel confident we will provide the industry with another opportunity to showcase product, garner business education and interact as a community," he added.

One notable cutback is registrations from fewer per company, Tompkins said pre-registration statistics showed.

Not boring though

With in-booth parties and lectures, the traditional first-day HFB Happy Hour at the SNEWS® booth, and the annual SNEWS Fitness Forum for debate and discussion -- not to mention a first-come, first-serve free lunch provided by the show -- a smaller show doesn't mean a boring show.

>> The 5th Annual SNEWS® Fitness Forumand luncheon will take on Aug. 6 with the theme "Survive and Thrive" and will allow participants to hear about trends in past SNEWS Retailer Surveys with the context of trends in sales and channels. In addition, we'll hear from panelists Ron Hornbaker of RetailMinds LLC and Sandy Stein of Stein LLC, who will discuss tips on sales, operations, events, merchandising and marketing. Plus, we'll discuss anything and everything that is on your minds in today's economy.

>> Pre-show project serving Boys & Girls Clubs -- It's not too late to join in if you are around on Wednesday, Aug. 5. Click here to read about the event and the local Boys & Girls Clubs in a May 11, 2009, SNEWS story. And email us at to let us know how you can help. Meet at 1:30 p.m. at the convention center for an afternoon of service and a free lunch from Wahoo's Tacos.

>> Joe Marcoux will speak on "The Four Rs of Successful Retail Fitness," pre-show on the second day, Aug. 7, from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

>> The industry party on Aug. 6, 6:30-9:30 p.m., again generously sponsored by SportsArt Fitness, will have free food, beer, open bar, pool, bowling -- and longer hours.

>> Once you tie up business on the first afternoon, Aug. 6, head over to the SNEWS Booth/Community Hub for the show Happy Hour to check your email and have a beer, courtesy of the show, from 4:30-6 p.m.

>> A few new additions to the show floor are JK Fitness, First Degree Fitness, Avanti Fitness and Lifeline Fitness.

>> A survey by show managementof industry needs and preferences will continue with discussion at both the Forum on Aug. 6 at noon and the Happy Hour at 5 p.m. Click here to read about that in a July 24, 2009, SNEWS story and to access a link to the survey.

Products and companies

The show floor will showcase many although it too will be about half the size as in 2008 based on show floor maps. Notable companies not coming this year that have attended lately are AFG/Horizon, Vision Fitness, GoFit, FreeMotion Fitness, BodyCraft, Octane and PaceMaster. Companies that have not attended in the last few years and continue to not attend include Hoist, Precor, True, Nautilus and Cybex.

Regulars -- at least recently -- that will be on the floor are SportsArt, Fitness Master, Body-Solid, Bodyguard, Star Trac, Productive Fitness, Fitter, Spri, Accell Fitness, Accufitness, Inspire Fitness, Lifecore, Lifespan, Kettler, PowerBlock, Schiek, Spirit and Vectra. Remember, we can't name every company so click here to see the most recent list.

Although a number of companies will just be updating their equipment and gear, a few will offer some new products:

Body-Solid -- Four new ellipticals based on the patented center drive technology licensed by a few companies. They will include three in the Endurance product line (a commercial version and two home versions) and one in the Best Fitness line. The company is also expanding its Body-Solid Tools line of fitness.

Fitness Master -- Three new products will include a light commercial elliptical with a smaller footprint, 7 percent incline and a 20-inch stride length (MSRP $1,399); a commercial group cycling bike under the Aristo brand; and a 10-piece circuit of hydraulic stations for schools, rehab, retirement centers and corporate markets.

Grip Strips -- A new company to the show, Grip Strips has disposable adhesive to be used with bars, rings, handles and other surfaces to protect the hand and improve grip and comfort.

Hyper Wear -- Look for a body-hugging weight vest to increase workout intensity, as well as SandBells, which are neoprene sandbag weights for dynamic weight training and to build grip strength. They can be used instead of kettlebells and not only in home but at schools and boot camps. The company promises demos and prize giveaways.

Lifecore Fitness -- Debuts its center drive ellipticals with a space-saving design. Two models have a 21-inch stride and two have an adjustable stride (17 to 25 inches), all for under $2,999 MSRP.

Life Fitness -- Two fitness kits filled with accessories and workout guides will be launched. One is a Body Shape Kit and the other is a Body Shape Kit Plus. They hold everything from handweights and balance boards to rubber tubing and pedometer watches, plus information about nutrition and workout plans. Also look for the new X8 Elliptical Cross-Trainer adjustable stride.

Productive Fitness -- Joining the line of booklets and DVDs of concise how-to information is a DVD on dumbbell use called "The Great Dumbbell DVD."

Spirit Fitness -- The company will show its upgraded X series line of equipment with treadmills, elliptical trainers and stationary bikes that will be available to retailers in the fall of 2009.

Spri Products -- Yoga, Pilates and mind-body workout gear will be launched by Spri, along with dozens of other new pieces, part of some of the partnership with its owner of 17 months, Gaiam. Printed mats, eco mats, yoga blocks, mat bags and yoga straps will highlight the mind-body collection. Fashionable, yet functional, we were told.

SportsArt Fitness -- With the focus on commercial fitness, SAF will focus on the vertical and commercial line, showing four of the companies new nine-piece dual-function strength units. Plus, look for its new Universal Entertainment Mounting Brackets that allows customers to attach screens of their choice from manufacturers of their choice to the equipment.

Star Trac -- Light commercial and high-end consumer treadmills will be launched under the brand ST Fitness. They have sleeker styling with oval tubes and low-profile motor shrouds, with the two top-end ones having 22-x-60-inch workout surfaces. The Ironman brand will also debut (Star Trac gained the brand after previous licensee Keys Fitness went bankrupt -- click here to see a Feb. 16, 2009, SNEWS story, "Star Trac retail division starts second year with Ironman brand as new feather in its cap."). It will include treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, strength pieces and accessories.

WAVE (Whole Body Advanced Vibration Exercise) -- The company will launch its new model for home use.

--Therese Iknoian



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