For the week of March 1-7
>> Scott Eyler has resigned as vice president of sales and marketing at True Fitness, according to the company. COO Michael Rivard, who joined True in August 2004, told SNEWS® Eyler, who reported to him directly, resigned effective Feb. 25. “We’re spreading the wealth” of job duties, Rivard said, “until we figure out what we’re going to do with the position.” No further information was available.
>> The jury trial in the first of two infringement cases pending between Icon and Nautilus is scheduled to start March 15. That case, set for a five-day trial unless it is bumped by a criminal matter, began in August 2002 when Icon charged Nautilus with infringement in the U.S. District Court, Utah. A second case was filed by Nautilus in December 2002, in the U.S. District Court, Washington, charging Icon with infringement of intellectual property. In that case, a jury trial is now set for mid-April. In related business, The U.S. District Court, District of Utah, has denied Nautilus’ motion for an order requiring Icon to publish a retraction of a mid-January press release and for related attorneys’ fees. The ruling stated the court’s denial “for the reason that this is something the court cannot properly address at this time.” Icon began the battle with a Jan. 13, 2005, press release stating it had won a round in the Utah court case. The release named a court ruling, calling it “today,” when it actually referred to a December ruling. Nautilus was hit by the news as it was presenting at an analyst’s conference. In a court statement by Nautilus CFO Rod Rice, the company watched its stock value slide in response. Nautilus requested the court have Icon issue a press release with a retraction. Icon countered saying it did not think such an action was necessary and the release was correct except the slip on the date because of incorrect editing. (See SNEWS® story, Jan. 14, 2005, “Nautilus and Icon fire paper volleys in ongoing legal battles.”)
>> At least in California, a survey has found an optimistic outlook for small businesses. The annual survey by Union Bank of California, surveyed 1,941 small business owners in the Golden State and found nearly 71 percent believed 2005 was going to be better than 2004. It also found that 36 percent said they intended to increase staffing this year, while only 2.8 percent said they planned any layoffs, down from 4.9 percent a year earlier. But all isn’t rosy: The top three concerns among those surveyed were workers’ compensation, the state of the economy, and health care costs.
>> GERMANY — At a CEO Forum at the recently completed ispo trade show in Munich, Germany, four CEOs of international companies and a sports researcher from a German university discussed whether the industry “needs ‘lifestyle’ to be successful.” CEOs attending were Herbert Hainer, adidas-Salomon; Roger Talermo, Amer Group; David Jacobs, Syder Active; and Karl-Heinz Salzburger, VF Outdoor Corporation; with the professor being Christoph Breuer from the German Sports University in Cologne. Talermo, heading up the Amer sports equipment company that owns the likes of Precor, had less than any to do with lifestyle issues, but had potent brand-encompassing remarks. “It’s a matter of trust,” he told the audience of international journalists. “‘Brand’ is a promise of something, and if we cheat the consumer and don’t bring the brand, then we’re out of the ballpark. The brand promise is the key at the end of the day….The promises of a manufacturer’s brand must be kept because the emotions and values of a sport can only be communicated in this way.” In terms of growth, he also added that without physical education in schools, as one problem in the United States, and without kids learning to participate in sports at a young age, the prospect for overall growth of the industry isn’t as good. Getting kids back into sports, he said, is vital for the industry to grow.
>> Leisure Trends, a consumer research company with a sports industry bent, has created a new proprietary research panel — MAAP (Most Active Americans Panel) – made up of active, affluent and influential Americans who are passionate about the sports they do and the products they buy and use while doing them. Leisure Trends surveyed a sampling of MAAP participants about health and fitness clubs with a 26 percent response rate. Four in 10 MAAP participants are members of a club — 39.1 percent. Of those who responded yes, 55.7 percent were men and 44.3 percent were women. Leisure Trends said MAAP had a greater percentage of male fitness club participants than the national average — 53 percent women/47 percent men. Two-thirds of members (59.5 percent) are at the club three times a week or more, and 87 percent of members visit the club at least once a week. Leisure Trends reported that men and women don’t differ on their frequency of club attendance. Nearly 16 percent of the survey’s respondents said they would be joining a club in the next six months — the majority of which were men (68.6 percent). Leisure Trends said the MAAP panel is not projectable to the U.S. population and is made up of Americans age 16 and older. The survey was not modeled after a certain active group.
>> Body Bar Systems is teaming up with Smart Bells, a new sculptural weight company, to provide the new company with programming, video production, distribution and education. Smart Bells are patented sculptural weights designed to fit the contours of the user’s body and facilitate dynamic circular movement patterns to build strength, cardio endurance and flexibility. Body Bar Systems said it plans to build on the success that Smart Bells has enjoyed at select fitness clubs and launch it nationally with promotion and training sessions at ECA in New York, March 11-13. For more information, visit www.smartbells.com.
>> UNITED KINGDOM — The UK’s Fitness Industry Association (FIA) has said media reports about the Community-Acquired MRSA, a new variety of the “superbug,” affecting UK health clubs and gyms are inaccurate and unfounded. Two newspapers — the London Evening Standard and the Daily Telegraph — reported that 100 cases of CA-MRSA have been identified in Britain. CA-MRSA is a new variety of the superbug which infects people with no connection to a hospital, and causes skin infections, joint infections, bacteria in the blood and in rare cases leads to a lethal form of pneumonia. Normally, it is found in communal changing areas, which could include health clubs; however, the Health Protection Agency has confirmed that there have been no cases of CA-MRSA in health clubs or gyms out of the 100 cases reported, the FIA stated.