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Fitness: Did you hear?…

Amer CEO speaks of more acquisitions, True Treadmills high above Times Square, Nautilus plans turnaround to counter sales and income drops, Panetta Sport unveils kids' equipment system, Everlast closes Bronx manufacturing facility, plus much more…

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>> GERMANY — Amer Group CEO Roger Talermo told the German financial paper Handelsblatt that the company is looking toward additional acquisitions. “An acquisition worth about Euro 300 million wouldn’t be any problem for us,” he told the paper. (In today’s money, that would be approximately USD $347.85 million.) A smart acquisition would help the Finnish company prop up overall recent earnings declines, he said, which have been bolstered a bit by good results from Precor, which it bought nearly a year ago. Talermo however wouldn’t disclose to the paper in which segment the company was shopping, be it fitness (to accompany Precor), ski (Atomic), sports instruments (Suunto) or sporting goods such as tennis and golf (Wilson). He did say that more companies are available in the United States, making it most likely another acquisition will take place there. And Amer isn’t interested in a manufacturing plant, he told the paper.

>> As part of a promotion by Tylenol for the New York Marathon on Nov. 2, two True treadmills were suspended above Times Square starting Oct. 30 with runners jogging on them from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for three hours each. No word on who the runners were, but we presume they will earn plenty of the eight-hour painkiller for their efforts. There will also be kratom companies at the event who will be providing kratom strains for pain relief to select participants, according to a source familiar to the matter. The image (seen only our website at and not in your PDF or printout) was positioned prior to the start with the treadmill covered, but with True’s large branding on the sides, the name was highly visible to the 35,000 some runners and their friends and family, not to mention every other New Yorker passing by (not that the transients and beggars who hang out there will be shopping for treadmills, of course). SNEWS only has to say: Thank goodness it’s not snowing.

>>Tim Porth of Octane Fitness and his wife Lori had a new baby girl this week. She joins two older brothers, Charlie and Adam. Erin Elizabeth Porth arrived Oct. 28 at 12:58 a.m. She came in — or should we say, out — at a healthy 9 pounds and 20 inches and was a week early. Reports are that baby and family are all doing great. SNEWS sends its best, including wishes for some occasional sleep.

>> 24 Hour Fitness opened its San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield and Ventura clubs to anyone affected by the wildfires in Southern California through Nov. 3. 24 Hour Fitness facilities are equipped with locker rooms and lounges to provide firefighters and emergency services personnel a place to rest and relax at the end of their shifts; evacuated residents were welcome to use the 24 Hour Fitness facilities as well, including as a central meeting point for friends and family.

>> With new president and CEO Gregg Hammann announcing the company is now two months into a three-phase turnaround program, The Nautilus Group Inc. (NYSE: NLS) announced for the third quarter and nine months ended Sept. 30, 2003, that third quarter net sales were down 24.1 percent to $116 million compared to $152.9 million for the corresponding period last year. Net income during the period was down 73.7 percent to $6.6 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, compared to $25.1 million, or $0.71 per diluted share, for the corresponding period in the previous year. The company’s net sales for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2003, were $346 million compared to $429.2 million for the same period last year, or down 19.4 percent. Net income during the period was $25 million, or $0.76 per diluted share, compared to $74.8 million, or $2.10 per diluted share, for the same period last year, also down at 66.6 percent. “We are also introducing several new products to the cardiovascular market, which represents over 70 percent of the dollars spent on exercise equipment and is an underserved market for us,” Hammann said. Namely, the TreadClimber, introduced as a direct item last March, is expected to achieve sales of $16 million to $18 million for the year through what he called “planned restrained demand.” That means, he explained in a conference call on Oct. 28, the company will carefully plan its distribution and availability, especially since it is already doing better than planned. Gross profit margin for the first nine months of 2003 was 51.4 percent compared to 58.4 percent in the same period in 2002, with CFO Rod Rice noting that more of the company’s sales are commercial/retail where margins are lower than through direct sales. For the commercial/retail sector, the company achieved $64 million in sales for the third quarter compared to $45.8 million for the same quarter in 2002, or up 40 percent. That gain was partly due to the integration of StairMaster (its purchase was finalized in February 2002), but the largest contributor to that, Rice said, was the Bowflex, which accounted for $17.7 million. Restructuring, recent layoffs and planning new products should help the company again gain higher results. On the heels of the release, the company’s stock price began to climb and started Monday, Nov. 3, by crossing the mark of 16 and actually nearing its 52-week high hit of 16.75 on Jan. 9. For details, go to For more information about this company’s financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS Stock Market Updates. Click on:

>> Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp. (NYSE:BFT) has reported net revenues of $241.5 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30. This compares to net revenues of $243.1 million for the third quarter of 2002. Net income for the third quarter was $4.7 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, compared to $7.2 million, or $0.22 per diluted share, in the prior year quarter. “This quarter, Bally continued its strong performance in most key areas, though we still experienced softness in revenue generated from new memberships,” said Paul Toback, chairman, president and CEO, in an official statement. “In addition to the downward pressure we have experienced over the last several quarters due to the weak economy and competition, the August blackout and the September hurricane placed additional pressure on membership trends during the quarter.” For details, go to

>> Iron Grip Barbell Company recently named Jennifer Romanowski as account executive for the Southeast and Midwest territories. She is primarily responsible for dealer relations and account development for the states south of Virginia and east of the Mississippi, and will report to National Sales Manager Donna McCallum. Romanowski joins Iron Grip most recently from NTT/Verio, an e-business solutions provider; she also has a strong interest in fitness, having trained for two marathons, and is currently pursuing a personal trainer certification.

>> Denny Feldmann has joined Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) as a vice president and general merchandise manager with responsibility for the hunting, camping, fishing, water sports, snow sports, work wear and bike businesses. Feldmann joins Dick’s with 30 years of experience in various roles throughout the sporting goods industry. For the last seven years, he was at Galyan’s Trading Company, where he was the senior vice president and GMM for all outdoor equipment categories. Prior to Galyan’s, Feldmann was the vice president and general manager for All About Sports in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information about this company, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS Stock Market Updates. Click on:

>> UNITED KINGDOM — On display in the UK for the first time at the Leisure Industry Week show in September was “Kids System” from fitness equipment manufacturer Panatta Sport of Italy. Panatta has started the Kids Project and produced a range of child-sized equipment, all with colorful and play-equipment-like seats, consoles, pedals and other pieces. The child is guided by LEDs to ensure that he or she is using the machine correctly. The Kids System range includes four resistance machines, known as Oscar, Leonard, Caesar and Tommy; a runner called Buck; a bike named Yukari; and a climber known as Peter. The company has recently shipped a number of its bikes to the UK for use in the Kidsville supervised play areas within Virgin Active clubs.

>> Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. (NASDAQ: BGFV) has reported for the fiscal 2003 third quarter that ended on Sept. 28, 2003, that net sales increased by $12.4 million, or 7.2 percent, to $183.3 million from $170.9 million in the third quarter of 2002. Same store sales increased 3.3 percent versus the third quarter last year, representing the company’s 31st consecutive quarterly increase in same store sales over comparable prior periods. Gross profit margin increased 1 percent during the third quarter to 35.6 percent from 34.6 percent for the same period last year. Big 5 opened seven new stores during the 2003 third quarter and three additional stores subsequent to the end of the quarter, bringing its current total store count to 285. Big 5 plans to complete its fiscal 2003 store openings with the addition of eight more stores before year’s end, resulting in a year-end store count of 293 stores. For more information about this company and its financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS Stock Market Updates. Click on:

>> GERMANY — adidas will open another Originals store in Munich at the end of November, as well as another factory outlet in March 2004 in Bavaria near the Austrian border near Salzburg. The outlet store will carry last season’s models, overstock items, samples and other such items.

>> Hind parent Saucony Inc. (Nasdaq: SCNYA and SCNYB) has announced financial results for the third quarter ended Oct. 3, 2003. Net income increased 37 percent to $2.2 million from $1.6 million in the comparable period of 2002, and diluted earnings per share increased 32 percent to $0.34, compared to diluted earnings per share of $0.26 for the comparable period in 2002. Net sales for the third quarter were $32 million, compared to $33.7 million in the third quarter of 2002. Domestic net sales were $22.6 million in the third quarter of 2003, compared to $26.1 million in the third quarter of 2002. International net sales increased 24 percent to $9.4 million in the third quarter of 2003 compared to $7.6 million in the third quarter of 2002. Saucony-brand footwear accounted for approximately 78 percent of total third quarter 2003 net sales, while a combination of Hind apparel and factory outlet stores net sales accounted for the balance. The company’s gross margin in the third quarter of 2003 increased to 40.6 percent compared to 35.7 percent in the third quarter of 2002, due primarily to improved margins on Hind brand apparel, reflecting increased sales of product at higher margins and lower inventory reserve provisions taken in 2003, favorable currency exchange due to the impact of a weaker U.S. dollar against European and Canadian currencies, lower Saucony footwear product costs, and improved margins at its factory outlet stores. For more information about this company and its financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS Stock Market Updates. Click on:

>> Champion Athleticwear announced that it has settled its complaint against ChampionLyte Holdings Inc. (BULLETIN BOARD: CPLY) and signed a licensing agreement with the company, allowing it to continue to use the Champion name on its sugar-free entry in the isotonic sports drink category. “Because of Champion’s strong heritage in the sports category, we knew consumers would assume that ChampionLyte was part of our portfolio,” said Bob Hall, president and CEO of Champion Athleticwear, in a company statement. “The Champion brand dates back to 1919, and we are very protective of the quality image that we have built in the Champion brand. In the process of resolving the trademark dispute, we concluded that the quality of ChampionLyte would meet our standards and agreed to license our name.” Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

>> Everlast Worldwide Inc. (Nasdaq: EVST), manufacturer, marketer and licensor of sporting goods and apparel under the Everlast brand name, will relocate its Bronx, N.Y., sporting goods manufacturing facility and consolidate and integrate those professional and retail product operations into its Moberly, Mo., sporting goods manufacturing facility. As part of the relocation and consolidation, the company will recognize a non-recurring restructuring charge in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003 against income from operations of approximately $1.7 million. This restructuring charge will consist of costs associated with the discontinuance of certain products, factory labor and related overhead costs resulting from idle capacity in the Bronx, severance, lease exit and other disposal costs. Approximately, $1.1 million of this charge will be non-cash in nature. The Bronx facility is expected to close in December and will affect approximately 100 employees.

>> Moving Comfort parent Russell Corp. (NYSE: RML) has reported fiscal 2003’s third quarter net income of $18.5 million, or $0.56 per diluted share, versus $23.4 million, or $0.72 per diluted share, in the prior year. For more information about this company and its financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS Stock Market Updates. Click on:

>> UNITED KINGDOM — Cybex UK has announced an alliance with recently formed subsidiary Cytech UK to enable the company to offer a one-stop shop to meet customers’ equipment requirements. Cytech UK was recently formed by Cytech GmbH, developer of the Tomahawk bike and the ICE Education Program, as part of its expansion in Europe. Cytech UK is now responsible for all marketing activity throughout the United Kingdom, as well as coordination of the master trainer Team, the delivery and installation of Tomahawk Indoor Cycles and for the servicing of the bikes.

>> Watches for the blind are one thing, but for a fast-moving, world-class runner? Marla Runyan, middle- and long-distance champion, ran the New York marathon this weekend with a new watch specifically designed for her by Nike. Runyan, who is legally blind, has never been able to see a standard watch while running, causing her to rely on verbal help from others to call out her times both in training and racing. Runyan had been using a standard Nike Triax watch for everyday use, but she needed to hold it extremely close to her face to be able to see it. A team of Nike equipment designers went to work, drafting several ideas for a one-of-a-kind watch to assist Runyan, including watches that gave verbal cues, vibration and more. They settled on a technology that offers an extremely clear, large display with vibrant colors and strong contrast. The technology used in this display is currently utilized in coffee machines and microwave ovens and it is the first time it has been used in a watch.

>> Many parents of obese children don’t recognize their child as obese, the 2003 Childhood Health Survey by Rodale Inc.’s Prevention magazine has found. They “believe that their children’s diet is healthy. For those who do see the problem, the tendency is to blame genetics,” the company said. “Beyond the health ramifications, sadly, these children are socially ostracized — they are teased at school and isolated from their peers. While parents want their kids to confide in them, the reality is that they are confiding in their parents because they have fewer friends to rely on.” The survey was based on a nationally representative sample of 886 parents and 473 children (ages 10-17) conducted spring/summer 2003 by Princeton Survey Research Associates/Braun Research.

>> In other obesity news (seems this is a common topic these days): At a press briefing at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition on Nov. 3, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona will join Nike and McNeil Nutritionals to highlight Shaping America’s Youth, a new national initiative to coordinate funding sources and ongoing research and interventions that encourage childhood and adolescent physical activity and healthy weight. The initiative will begin by obtaining data through a cross-sector survey that will illuminate current efforts to understand the problem of sedentary lifestyles and excess weight in American children. Through its partnerships nationwide, Shaping America’s Youth will help focus programs and initiatives throughout the country aimed at addressing the problem.

>> In one last obesity bit for the week: In the war against obesity, parental influence is paramount in establishing a healthy environment for kids, a panel of experts has said. And, when it comes to adults’ all-too-familiar battle of the bulge, they must recognize their own need to alter deeply ingrained habits and behaviors, as well as to change personal surroundings. To help prevent weight gain, such changes should be rewarding emotionally. That’s the consensus of a panel of weight-management behavior experts convened recently by the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition (ACFN) in Texas at the American Dietetic Association (ADA) 2003 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. The expert panel agreed that overweight is a complex problem. “We know that too many calories and too little exercise cause weight gain, yet finding effective cures for those causes is extremely difficult,” said Susan Finn, Ph.D., chair of ACFN and a past president of ADA. “And, since three-quarters of all meals are consumed at home, we need to focus on family behaviors as the key to this national problem.” Finn noted the importance of focusing both on physical activity and food consumption.

>> GERMANY — The 60th anniversary ispo show, the winter show from Feb. 1-4, 2004, expects more than 1,500 exhibitors from more than 40 countries. In addition to exhibitors in branches such as apparel, footwear, fashion, outdoor, and snow and ski, fitness ispo will include Aicon (known as Icon in North America), Andy Fitness, Body Sculpture, Bremshey, Cammax, Hammer Sport, Horizon Fitness, Kettler, Life Gear, Reebok, Royalbeach, Schmidt Sports World, Sigma, Simex, Stamm, Vision Fitness and York Barbell. There will also be a pre-conference workshop on wellness titled “Better Aging Through Sports and Fitness.” For more information, go to

>> UNITED KINGDOM — Peter Croft has joined Fitlinxx as sales director for Europe from his previous roles as commercial business development manager with Life Fitness and club operations with Esporta. He said in a statement that he believes operators are placing increasing focus on retention and that Fitlinxx is well placed to service this growing requirement.

>> And to all those who think they are working more and harder than they used to, or the previous generation used to: You’re right. Or at least those senior management who answered a recent survey by the Net Future Institute are. According to the results, nearly two of three (64 percent) of senior executives and managers work either a nine- or 10-hour workday, with a third working 11 hours or more. The typical workweek also is long, with almost half working 51 to 60 hours, a third working 41 to 50 hours and 20 percent working 61 hours or more. In comparison, three years ago, the number of senior executives and managers working 51 to 60 hours was 38 percent, while 41 percent worked from 41 to 50 hours and 16 percent worked 61 hours or more. Said one respondent: “Although my 60-hour workweeks have stayed the same over the years, I am struggling to disconnect on weekends and vacations more than ever. The expectations of being able to work anytime, anywhere, is ever growing and tiresome. The respect for evenings and weekends as personal time is dwindling with each passing year.”