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>> efi Sports Medicine is expanding its Gravity Training System quickly, including clubs in Australia and Europe. This month, it will debut at the Rimini Fitness Festival in Italy.
>> The American Council on Exercise (ACE) has announced it has entered a strategic marketing agreement with SPRI Products, a distributor of rubber resistance exercise products and fitness accessories. New SPRI consumer packages will display the ACE logo and carry ACE information inside that promotes the importance of accredited professional fitness certifications and the use of safe, effective fitness equipment and programs.
>> Hiring an outside PR agency can be a great boost with payback, SportsArt America has discovered. Its agency has included the company in two media days for July that will introduce the company and its product to area journalists. The days include a Los Angeles day on July 15 and a day in Manhattan on July 28. SNEWS® View: Although many companies hesitate because of the expense, good PR representation can bring rewards. What company could in one day show its stuff and talk about itself to six or 12 solid media representatives, especially in the likes of Manhattan?
>> Look for chewing gum in your local IHRSA member club as of September. The non-profit association for health clubs has kicked off a consumer promotion with MarketSource LLC that features new Trident Tropical Twist Sugarless Gum. The gum will be distributed in 400 member clubs — 2,500 samples over 30 days. The goal of the promotion is to increase awareness about the health benefits of chewing sugarless gum.
>> Fitness industry long-timer Sherry Catlin has been named president of Body Bar Systems, a move designed to help the company grow into additional markets. Catlin had been serving as program director for the Boulder, Calif.-based company. She will maintain those duties along with those of president, according to the company. The goal is to direct the company into new areas such as sports training, youth fitness and the over-50 market. “Over the course of Sherry’s tenure as director of program development for Body Bar Systems, she has played an integral role in building brand awareness, expanding the product line and developing education within the fitness industry and general population,” said Arno Niemand, Body Bar founder and chairman, in a statement. “We are confident that, together with the rest of our team, Sherry will be extremely effective in overseeing Body Bar’s operations and growth. With 25 years in the fitness industry, Catlin was group fitness director for the Squash Club and Boston Sports Club for 18 years as well as consultant to the founders of Equinox Fitness Clubs, The Air Force, Cunard and Silverseas Cruise lines.
>> GERMANY — According to a monthly survey of sporting goods stores across Germany, stores still didn’t manage to eke into a plus zone for sales for May. Overall, the year is now barely in the positive. The smallest of negatives of May brought the year’s sales through May to 1.1 percent over the previous year’s sales through May. Intersport also showed a meager May, partly blamed on the loss of two shopping days. (Remember, most stores are closed on Sunday, so the number of shopping days there depends on how the month falls.) For Intersport members, that resulted in year-to-date sales of about -5 percent. The monthly surveys of stores are done by the trade journal spomo and include a representative sample of stores in all the various regions of the country.
>> Pedometer and stopwatch specialist Accusplit has moved as of early this month. Its headquarters are now in Pleasanton, Calif., not in San Jose. The new address is 6120 Stoneridge Mall Road, Suite 210, Pleasanton, CA 94588. The company can be reached at 925-226-0888 or 1-800-935-1996. Its website remainss www.accusplit.com.
>> The Life Fitness Academy, the training and education department of Life Fitness, has announced the winners of the 2004 Life Fitness Academy Michael L. Pollock Memorial Grants at a recent American College of Sports Medicine conference in Indianapolis. Winners were selected on their research proposals, scientific merit and the studies’ potential to contribute to the field of fitness and exercise. Each of the four graduate students or post-doctorate fellows will receive $5,000 for their studies. Since its formation in 1993, the Life Fitness Academy has awarded $220,000 to 63 grant winners, including this year’s recipients.
>> GERMANY – If you’re attending the ispo summer show July 4-6 in Munich, Germany, be sure not to miss a conference about emerging European markets due to the expansion of the European Union. The speakers will discuss the potential for opportunities for the sporting goods industry. It will take place July 4, and all exhibitors, retailers and other industry members are invited to attend the English presentation from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The results of a study of the sporting goods markets in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia will also be presented.
>> York Fitness Worldwide has selected QRS Impact to implement new brand information management. According to the QRS Corp. (NASDAQ: QRSI), York plans to use the software in its effort to ensure that all information related to the execution of the York retail product brand strategy is communicated accurately and cost-effectively to the consumer through all internal and external business processes and distribution channels. President William Thierfelder, who is leaving the company July 2 (see our SNEWS story, June 28), told SNEWS the software is one more piece of being able to offer a package to its retailers that can help them do better business. “QRS Impact addresses challenges greater than simply product information management,” said Cisco Adler, York vice president of marketing, in a statement. “QRS Impact helps consolidate and synchronize information across the enterprise and across products for true brand information management.” For information on the software, go to www.qrs.com.
>> UNITED KINGDOM – Style Fitness, the distributor in Europe for Johnson products (Vision, Horizon and Matrix) has appointed Rob Capener as marketing manager for both the commercial and home fitness areas. He will develop marketing strategies across all sectors. Prior to joining the company last month, Capener held positions in local authority leisure service departments for more than eight years, managing various leisure and fitness centers and overseeing the implementation of sports development strategies and initiatives. More recently, he was marketing manager with Honda. Also joining Style Fitness as commercial department office manager is David Garratt. According to Style managing director Jamie Burton, the company launched product in Spain in April, and it will have additional expansion news soon.
>> UNITED KINGDOM — Fitness club operator Holmes Place has appointed design and strategy consultancy 20/20 to work on its brand identity and communications. Work will begin immediately and involve an examination of the existing brand, which will be followed by creative work including what the company called a new “tone of voice” or the development of a new identity. Holmes Place marketing director Nick Burrows said: “Holmes Place is a brand with great heritage. We wish to maintain and develop our position as the health club brand to be reckoned with.”
>> SNEWS received an odd email recently — polite enough but odd: Cybex was thanking us in a form email for our decision “to complete a Cybex Trazer Pre-Deposit Reservation Form (PDRF). By doing so, you provided your facility with an opportunity to be one of the first to offer Cybex Trazer v.1.1 to your clients. This letter is designed to remind you of how the PDRF process works.” Hmm, we thought, not only had we not given our card to anyone at IHRSA regarding the Trazer, but heck we’re just ol’ journalists and don’t have “facilities” or “clients” for which or for whom to buy big ol’ fitness thing-a-ma-jigs. So we emailed Paul Dolan, director of business development, and said, well, gee, thanks but no thanks. Of course, Dolan apologized profusely and said he was “puzzled” how this happened. He too didn’t recall meeting me at the show and promised to look into who completed the form for me. He said he’d remove us from the PDRF list. Good thing, that removal! Then the following week we got a hard-copy of the letter, thanking us again for our interest.
>> UNITED KINGDOM — The Register of Exercise Professionals will launch its second industry survey — Working in Fitness in 2004 — in conjunction with Leisure-net Solutions, FitPro and Skills Active’s research unit. Each of the register’s 17,000-plus members will be polled. In addition, the survey will be opened to the rest of the industry through pop-ups on the REP and Fitness Industry Association (FIA) websites. The main objectives of the Working in Fitness 2004 survey will be to do things like measure employment, gather information on salaries and employment terms, provide trends data, establish demographics for the industry, monitor levels of academic and vocational qualifications, and examine job satisfaction. “One of the key objectives of the register has always been to achieve continuity for exercise professionals within the UK,” said REP Registrar Cliff Collins. “Our work within the industry on registration levels has gone a long way to achieving this goal, and we hope that regular working practice surveys like this one will help achieve similar results. The organization said it hoped that at least 2,000 exercise professionals will respond, and that the results of the survey, which will be written and analyzed by Skills Active, will be announced at the FitPro Business Convention at LIW in Birmingham, in September 2004. For more information, go to www.fia.org.uk.
>> Ever heard of the WAF, or so-called Wife Acceptance Factor? Once a man gets married, wrote Boston Globe writer Kimberly Blanton in a June 28 article, his big toys like electronics and things must be approved by the wife. And companies are starting to recognize this and play more to women’s needs and sense of décor. “Wife-persuasion tactics are common water-cooler chatter, and WAF has spread like wildfire in chat rooms, where men grumble anonymously about difficult wives. It is debated on the web in German, Dutch, and French …WAF is so powerful that it is rapidly changing the nature, design, and even the color of electronics and other consumer goods. Electronics manufacturers are shifting to products with high WAF: flat-screen televisions, ‘invisible’ speakers recessed into walls, user-friendly touch screens, and components in colors that women like,” the article stated. In a book called Trendscape 2004, the author Michael Tchong even included a chapter on WAF: “Because women are much more sensitive to the decor of the home, they are forcing manufacturers to re-examine their design because it needs to meet both their criteria … In the past, the Japanese kept pouring out equipment — the big ugly, black, bulky stuff with cords. People are finally thinking that we need to grow market share, and let’s address the design aesthetic of the other half of the household.” SNEWS® View: Although we doubt the fitness industry has termed it WAF, we suspect that’s exactly what’s going on with the emergence of colors, curves and aesthetics in equipment. Wonder if any manufacturer, perhaps through its retailers, has ever thought to do simple surveys when a couple has been shopping to find out what the woman liked or didn’t like to help them in refining design.