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Fitness: Did you hear?…

ispo to launch trade show in Russia, new study looks at stability ball "active sitting" benefits, Asics No. 1 running shoe brand in Germany, Life Fitness reorganizes European staff, do chores instead of workout? plus much more...

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For the week of Nov. 9-15

>> RUSSIAManagement of the Munich, Germany-based, sporting goods show ispo has announced a new ispo show in Russia, with the first to be Sept. 14-17, 2005, in Moscow. This will be the second new show for the management group, Messe Muenchen (, with its first ispo China show scheduled for March 2005. The show, to be managed on site by Sport Communication Group in Moscow that previously held the In-Sports show, will be designed to serve the entire Eastern European and Central Asian countries, including Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and others. The 2003 sporting goods market in Russia was worth about USD $1.7 billion, according to the Russian Association of Sports Industry Enterprises (RASIE). Experts estimate the market potential to be about USD $5 billion, partly because of growing interest in active lifestyles and an increasingly more efficient infrastructure. With the exception of a couple of recessionary years, the market has grown about 20 percent to 35 percent annually. The In-Sports national show will merge with ispo Russia as of 2006, under the long-term agreement announced Nov. 15. The show will be held at the Crocus Center in Moscow. For more information, go to

>> So you’ve heard the promo by some companies to use a stability ball instead of a chair, calling it “active sitting” to engage your core muscles? Although physical therapists and others have expressed pros and cons, there have been no studies — until now. In a small study done at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, researchers found after 30 minutes of sitting that subjects had no additional muscle activation on the ball as compared to sitting on a stool. Subjects — eight healthy men in their 20s — were instructed in both cases to sit tall and upright. Muscle activation was measured using electromyography. Researchers did find that subjects tended to shift around more while sitting on the ball. That is what some believe can be better for you. Still, researchers are not ready to make a conclusion, instead saying in the universal researcher cop-out that more research is needed. SNEWS® View: OK, more research is needed to see if smaller non-superficial muscles are in indeed more active. Plus, we’d like to see a longer test. Some have recommended ball-sitting is great, but perhaps best — at least for beginners at it — in smaller doses.

>> GERMANYAfter a decade with Life Fitness in Germany, Burkhard Lueben left his position as managing director there in mid-October. Frank Vandeven, who is the new manager for the Europe-Middle East-Africa region (EMEA), will take over his role through this year. The EMEA director role was previously held by Aat van Winkelhof who also left the company in September. A replacement for Lueben has not been named.

>> Games developed by bored college students can be profitable. Well, other than ones involving yeast and grain beverages with clothing optional. Former Navy SEAL Phil Black developed FitDeck, a custom deck of playing cards that allows users to create and randomize their own workout, based on pushup game he played with his roommates in college. Simply shuffle the deck and perform up to 50 exercises pictured and described on the card faces. The deck consists only of exercises using body weight (such as pushups and crunches) so they require no equipment or special machines. Cards are color-coded by upper-, middle-, lower- and full-body exercises, with suggested repetitions for beginner, intermediate, advanced levels. It also comes with information cards that offer instruction on warming up, cooling down and stretching. “People crave variety, fun and a little competition to stay motivated,” Black said. The deck provides over 3 million possible exercise routines and retails for $19. Check it out at SNEWS® View: This could be the start of a whole new empire the likes of specialized trivia games. We can see it now: Kid’s FitDecks, seniors, balance, clubs (equipment required), circuit training, you name it.

>> The Nautilus Group has an exclusive agreement to work with GE Commercial Finance, Vendor Financial Services to provide for its commercial fitness customers financial needs. The relationship with Vendor Financial Services includes providing multi-year leasing and financing arrangements to commercial customers. It also can accommodate a broader range of financial profiles, and can turn transactions under $100,000 within one business day and most larger transactions within two business days.

>> In other depressing news about the impact fatter Americans is having on other industries, the airlines have reported that heavy suitcases aren’t the only things costing them more in fuel. Heavier passengers are causing a burden too. The average increase in the weight of Americans since the ’90s of 10 pounds cost airlines an extra $275 million to burn 350 million more gallons of fuel in 2000.

>> GERMANYAsics has screamed into becoming the overall No. 1 running shoe brand in Germany as of the third quarter of 2004. According to Sports Tracking Europe, it is the only large sporting goods manufacturer whose percentage of the market is growing. That now stands at 33.5 percent.

>> Well, it didn’t take all too long for mindful fitness practices like yoga and Pilates to get dumbed down, so to speak. Natural Journeys has introduced its new “wimps” series: Pilates for Wimps and Yoga for Wimps. Guess that’s OK, because it could make the practices more approachable. But it’s the fliers that make you wince: Yoga for Wimps has a thin yogini holding a mat under one arm and taking a big bite out of a packed submarine sandwich in the other with the subtitle, “poses for the flexibly impaired.” (What does the sandwich have to do with flexibility?) The Pilates for Wimps flyer has a tired-looking, thin woman with a cup of coffee in one hand and a doughnut in the other with the subtitle, “total fitness for the partially motivated.” The subtitles are kind of cute and could be attractive to some wanna-be consumers, but what’s with the fat sandwich and the glazed doughnut?

>> GERMANYadidas, know partly for its German heritage, may no longer offer any products that are made in Deutschland. The company is expected to shut the doors soon on its last manufacturing plant there, local German papers have reported. The company said the facility is no longer economical.

>> In other adidas news, one of its new shoes — the adidas_1 — has won Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New” Grand Award, the highest accolade in the recreation category of its annual awards and the first time ever for a shoe. The winners of the award’s 12 categories were chosen from thousands of entries, according to Popular Science Editor Mark Jannot, who added, “These awards honor innovations that not only impact the way we live today, but change the way we think about the future.” Created by the adidas Innovation Team, the adidas_1 provides cushioning by automatically and continuously adjusting itself during an entire run. It does so by sensing the cushioning level using a sensor and a magnet. It then understands whether the cushioning level is too soft or too firm via a small computer. It adapts with a motor-driven cable system to provide the correct cushioning. The award winners will be featured in the December issue of Popular Science, the most widely-read issue of the year. SNEWS® View: Tech gurus seem to think that products that “think” like this shoe are a wave of the feature, and that this shoe is only the first of many, much better, products to come. Imagine a jacket that senses when you’re cold, a treadmill that senses when you’re tired, or a balance board that knows when you need an easier challenge.

>> SnowSports Industries America’s (SIA) Winter Feels Good campaign has gone presidential and is now working with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to encourage Americans to participate in outdoor winter activities. Children and adults can earn President’s Challenge awards by combining snow sports, such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing and snowboarding, with other activities. The President’s Challenge awards are used by school systems and recreation programs throughout the country to encourage regular physical activity for individuals and groups. To earn an award, youth 18 and younger need to participate in physical activity for 60 minutes a day, five days a week for six weeks; adults need to participate for 30 minutes a day, five days a week for six weeks. Full details are available and progress can be tracked online at

>> The 41st Annual NSGA Management Conference and Seventh Annual Team Dealer Summit has added two more speakers to the roster: Richard Heckmann, chairman and CEO of K2 Inc. and George Zimmer, president and CEO of Men’s Warehouse. On May 25, Heckmann will talk about “The Impact of Consolidation on the Sporting Goods Industry,” sharing his outlook on the future of our industry and how the consolidation trend will affect retailers, dealers and manufacturers. Zimmer will speak on May 23 about “Unleashing Human Potential in the Workplace,” relaying his knowledge gained from more than 30 years of experience and experiments in the Men’s Wearhouse retail laboratory. He will relate how collaborative human relationships — fueled by mutual trust, respect and caring — hold the key to unlocking employee creativity, performance and fulfillment in business and society. The summit is scheduled for May 22-25, 2005, at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz., sponsored by ADT Security Services, Mueller Sports Medicine, Russell Corp., Sporting Goods Dealer and the NSGA Team Dealer Division. Any paid-in-full registration received by Feb. 15 will receive a 5 percent early registration discount and be guaranteed a spot. Details at

>> Life Time Fitness, Inc. plans to open a new sports, fitness, recreation and resort/spa center in Commerce Township, Mich., in spring 2005. It will be the company’s sixth location in the Detroit area and the 40th nationally. Measuring 109,000 square feet, it will offer 24-hour access to more than 400 pieces of equipment, group fitness classes, personal trainers, rock climbing walls, two full-size basketball courts, squash and racquetball courts, and a mind and body studio. Existing Detroit-area Life Time Fitness centers include Canton Township, Novi, Rochester Hills, Shelby and Troy.

>> With 65 licensing agreements under its belt in the last four years, Everlast Worldwide has signed another agreement — this time with Johannesburg, South Africa-based Big Brands to develop a line of Everlast men’s, women’s and children’s apparel. Scheduled to launch in fall 2005, the products will be produced by Big Brands and distributed throughout South Africa. “South Africa is a key growth market for us. Boxing is an important sport in South Africa and Everlast is a widely known and respected brand in the country. The lines produced by Big Brands expand our presence in South Africa and will complement our licensed footwear products,” Everlast Chairman and CEO George Horowitz said in a statement.

>> Phillip Mills, chairman of the health and fitness organization Les Mills International, has been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for New Zealand for 2004 at a banquet in Auckland, Australia. Winner of the Services category, including Financial Business, Property and Arts, Mills was chosen as the ultimate winner from five category winners who were each judged to be leaders of their industries. “His creativity and charisma, as well as his unique company model with huge national and international expansion potential, made Phillip a stand-out winner for the judges,” said David Johnson, chair of the judging panel. Les Mills World of Fitness has nine Les Mills clubs in New Zealand with 43,000 members and the fitness programs created by Les Mills International are distributed to more then 9,000 fitness clubs in 54 countries, with an estimated three million participants a week. Mills took over the Les Mills company, which was founded by his father, Les, in 1993. He also developed an exercise-to-music program system, which evolved into the seven group fitness programs currently distributed by Les Mills International. Mills will now go on to represent New Zealand and compete against 34 entrepreneurs from around the world for the title of Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year in Monte Carlo in May 2005. The competition is in its seventh year in New Zealand and the program was launched over 17 years ago by Ernst and Young Worldwide to recognize entrepreneurial spirit around the globe.

>> You’ve heard of Desperate Housewives? Well how’s this for desperation. The Maids Home Services issued report that urges women to ditch their exercise equipment and switch on the vacuum cleaner to burn calories. That’s right. Get in shape by getting your carpet in shape for the holidays! The company claims that you’ll burn 85 calories as you, “Vacuum regularly to fluff up the carpet, prolong its life, and make it look its best before your holiday guests arrive.” And when the guests leave, mop up to burn another 153 calories! But wait, there’s more! Even though you’ve tossed the treadmill out with the holiday trash, that’s no reason to go weak in the legs. Knock off 207 calories “stacking wood for the fireplace.” Heck, go ahead and sell those yoga videos at the next garage sale. By “scrubbing the floor on your hands and knees,” 189 calories will fall to the linoleum. And don’t look now, but you’re practically in the yoga “table” position! With the Maids plan, your next great workout is just a holiday away. Your annual New Year’s Eve party is the perfect opportunity for “washing linens and making the beds to prepare for overnight guests.” You’ve just burned 72 calories, and had a ball while doing it. As the clock strikes 12, pat yourself on your new muscle-toned back. It’s a brand new year. Welcome to 1956!