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Fitness: Did you hear?…

The Super Show's Sports Product of the Year finalists announced, Arizona's Fitness Gallery phone number auction continues, Health Magazine gives early heads-up for award submissions, Matrix Fitness' 2004 global sales up 26 percent, plus much more...


For the week of Jan. 18-24

>> At The Super Show, the finalists for the eighth-annual Sports Product of the Year competition were from a mix of categories. The top five — decided based on votes cast the first two days of the show (Jan. 17-18) — are: Powerbreathe (Gaiam), a handheld air capacity trainer for runners, walkers and athletes; Innerscan Body Composition Monitor (Tanita), a scale that measures overall health, including weight, body fat, body water percentage, bone mass, muscle mass and metabolic age; LandRoller (LandRoller), a new version of skates where the wheels are set on the side of the boot; Textile Revolution Compression Wear (ProTonic); and Tee & Cue Combination Table (Beasley Creations), that can transform from a billiards table to a mini-mini-golf game. Several hundred journalists will vote in the next two to three months on which of the finalists they think is the overall best and most innovative, and the SGMA will announce the winner of this year’s competition in late spring.

>> At a luncheon panel at The Super Show, The Sports Authority CEO Doug Morton said that its fitness area is growing strongly “driven by the Baby Boomers.” He also said it expects that category to continue to grow “at a very high rate.” Morton projected that fitness will grow in the mid-single digits up to double-digits (or about 5 percent to 10 percent) in the next year.

>> In the latest chapter of the Ch. 7 bankruptcy of Arizona’s Fitness Gallery, which was filed on Oct. 25, 2004, is the continuation of a public auction of the company’s name from Jan. 18 to March 4, 2005. According to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Arizona, the company’s telephone number was to be auctioned on Jan. 18 and was set to be sold to Fitness Holdings International, operator of Busy Body Home Fitness, for $2,000 “or (for) highest and best bid at auction.” The name, Fitness Gallery, was also to be sold to the highest and best auction bid. (For details on the case, see SNEWS® stories, Dec. 23, 2004, “Bankrupt Fitness Gallery AZ name, telephone number up for auction;” and Oct. 25, 2004, “Fitness Gallery Arizona to liquidate under Chapter 7 bankruptcy.”)

>> Spirit Fitness is spreading its wings. Two longtime industry sales pros have joined its ranks: Gregg Frazier, long-time West Coast sales manager for True Fitness, will take over the West for Spirit from his Phoenix, Ariz., base. In addition to True, Frazier has been operations manager for Indian Fitness, and a store manager for now-defunct Fun & Fitness. The second hire is John Leazer, of Largo, Fla., who is most recently of TuffStuff where he was the East Coast sales manager. He has also been the national sales director for Diamondback Fitness, run retail stores in Tampa, Fla., and was a gym operator in Mississippi. He will cover Ohio, Indiana, Florida and West Virginia for Spirit. Says Woody Fisher, Spirit’s vice president of sales, “Each one of these gentlemen is very capable, and add a lot of talent to our company.”

>> The latest move in the Nautilus vs. Icon vs. Nautilus legal scuffles is in Utah, where Icon filed an infringement suit against Nautilus in August 2002, just before Nautilus filed an infringement suit against Icon in December 2002. The Nautilus Group, upset about a Jan. 13, 2005, press release (see SNEWS® story, Jan. 14, “Nautilus and Icon fire paper volleys in ongoing legal battles”) made a motion Jan. 21 asking the court to order Icon to publish a retraction of the press release and for Nautilus’ attorneys’ fees in the matter.

>> Here’s your early warning if you don’t want to be left out of the second-annual Health magazine “Best of Fitness Awards” for 2006. The 2005 awards announced in the January issue were a bit late in the organization and some companies didn’t get notice. (See SNEWS® story, Dec. 17, 2004, “Health magazine’s ‘fitness awards’ reap large national audience,” and Oct. 8, 2004, “Health magazine launches fitness awards in January issue. Did you know?”). The 2006 awards will appear in the January 2006 issue, with a deadline for nominations of June 10, 2005. To nominate a product, email contact information to fitness_awards@timeinc.com. The early announcement says you will receive a link to a downloadable nomination form to be available March 1. The magazine “prefers” recently released products, but all entries are welcome, with each entry limited to one per category. This year the equipment categories will be broken down by price, with awards for treadmills, weight systems, ellipticals and stationary bikes to be awarded in a lower-price category ($1,500 and under for all except weights, which will be $1,000 and under), and then one higher-price category. To see more about the magazine, go to www.health.com.

>> Matrix Fitness Systems has announced a global sales increase of 26 percent over 2003 sales. Worldwide, the greatest increase in sales was in the Asian market, said Nathan Pyles, CEO of Matrix, a Johnson Health Tech company. Matrix Fitness’ North American sales were also up 29 percent over 2003 year sales. The biggest growth in the United States was in the commercial dealer network that the company is now expanding.

>> The results are in and Saucony and New Balance have scored high in Runner’s World magazine’s Shoe Buyer’s Guide, hitting newsstands in March. Runner’s World has bestowed the “best buy” title to the Saucony Grid Jazz X running shoe, and “editor’s choice” to New Balance’s 766 shoe.

>> Numerous U.S. and European companies answered the call for entries for women’s-specific product designs in the inaugural Volvo SportsDesign Awards to be bestowed at the ispo sporting goods trade show in Munich, Germany. Volvo was looking for submissions in six women’s product categories, including fitness accessories and footwear. Products were judged on quality, function and benefits for women, innovation and concept, material used as well as colors and patterns. Fitness-related finalists include adidas’ Yoga Vario shoe, Nike’s Shox Allegria shoe and Women’s Weights. The winners will be announced at the Volvo SportsDesign Forum on Feb. 5 at the New Munich Trade Fair center, a day before the ispo winter 2005 trade show opens. The Volvo SportsDesign Awards are presented by ispo and Volvo Cars, and produced by Pascher + Heinz Sports Marketing. For more details, check out www.ispo-sportsdesign.com.

>> For more than a decade, Parisi Speed School has been designing programs for kids and young adults of all fitness abilities, and it has added FreeMotion Fitness’s strength products to its lineup. Parisi’s mission is to educate youth from ages 7-21on fitness training to improve physical performance and confidence levels. Available to clubs across the country, Parisi’s training is a three-month program designed to decrease body fat and increase speed, strength and flexibility.

>> Hot off the presses is the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005” document which goes a big step beyond diet to include a big emphasis on regular, moderate intensity exercise, along with eating a healthy balance of nutritious food. Published jointly every five years by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the guidelines provide authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases. The guidelines recommend that all American adults should exercise moderately 30 minutes a day to reduce the risk of chronic disease, while those wishing to manage body weight and prevent gradual weight gain, should engage in approximately 60 minutes of activity on most days. To sustain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of daily physical exercise is recommended. The new guidelines state that exercise should include cardiovascular conditioning, stretching for flexibility, and resistance (weight) exercises for increasing muscle strength and endurance. For more information, visit www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines/.

>> In the “we’re fat, but not that fat” category, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recanted stats that said obesity was about to overtake smoking as the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. Originally published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last March, the report said that the number of obesity-related deaths between 1990 and 2000 was 400,000 a year — an increase of 100,000. The original study put the number of tobacco-related deaths per year at just under 435,000, and contended that more Americans could soon be dying of obesity instead of smoking if current trends persisted. Soon after it was published, scientists inside and outside the agency began to dispute its findings, prompting the CDC (www.cdc.gov) to review the study using two independent statisticians. They found that a computer glitch had thrown the number off and was in actuality an increase of a mere 65,000. Despite the correction, the agency said the finding that obesity is a major cause of death still stands. So, we’re just not THAT fat.