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For the week of Sept. 28 to Oct. 4
>> More than 150 Life Fitness employees in Schiller Park and Franklin Park, Ill., raised more than $40,000 to help prevent, treat and defeat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases by participating in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2004 fund-raising efforts. Employees from various departments of Life Fitness solicited pledges from friends and family members and then participated in a Sept. 12 three-mile walk at the College of DuPage outside of Chicago in Glen Ellyn, Ill. In addition, Life Fitness employees held bake sales and sold T-shirts to raise funds. Life Fitness’ goal was to obtain contributions totaling $15,000, but the company collected more than $40,000 which will help support research and community education about heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers
>> Everlast Worldwide was in licensing overdrive this last week, signing agreements with London’s Oceania Trading Ltd. and New York’s FuDa International. Slated for retail next year, Oceania Trading will develop a line of Everlast men’s women’s and kids’ underwear and sleepwear to distribute in the United Kingdom and Ireland. On this side of the pond, FuDa will produce a line of Everlast-branded women’s outerwear, overcoats and windwear for the U.S. market. Both the Oceania and FuDa goods will be sold in sporting goods stores, athletic footwear retailers and department stores.
>> Club Industry magazine has a new look — a newsier format “to meet the changing needs of what the fitness industry is,” according to its editor John Agoglia. Agoglia said the new magazine — called “Club Industry’s Fitness Business Pro” — will still speak to the clubs, which will remain its core reader, but will reach out more strongly to other aspects of the vertical fitness industry, including corporate fitness, YMCAs, universities and the military. It will do that by not doing the traditional how-to’s in club magazines, but instead address news, trends and issues that affect that segment of the industry. “We’re trying to bring people more in-depth analysis,” he said. The cover will not be a photo with a banner and headlines, but rather a news column format with cover stories. Various columnists will address specific segments such as hotels or the military and how news and trends will affect their needs. Asked Agoglia, “Why not bring a new and fresh approach?” The first issued mailed in mid-September.
>> Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently showed the Sporting Goods CPI Index has declined 1.9 percent from last August to 99.5. July’s index also dropped 1.9 percent. The index was negative in January and February, but turned positive in March and April. It was flat in May. June showed the index slipping into negative territory with a 0.6 percent decrease. This is the first time since February 1998 that the index has been positive. Since December 1999’s peak of negative 5.8 percent, the index has been gradually moving toward a positive number. The decline for 2003 averaged 0.8 percent, while the decline for 2002 was 2.6 percent. In August 2004, the CPI for “All Items” increased 2.7 percent from August 2003.
>> The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved $75 million for the Carol White Physical Education Program (PEP) for 2005 — an increase of $5 million from the amount approved by the House earlier this year. Funding for PEP was one of the main goals of National PE Day, a joint effort of SGMA and PE4Life. SGMA said the increase in funding is a significant victory because federal spending for education was restrained because of money spent on the conflict in Iraq and hurricane damage in Florida.
>> Bally Total Fitness recently participated in Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play, an initiative that is part of the “Let’s Just Play” grassroots campaign that encourages families to be more physically active. Bally conducted Worldwide Day of Play fitness events on Oct. 2 in four cities — Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix and Tampa. Each event featured an activity led by Bally-certified group exercise instructors, including Tae Kwon Do, yoga and hip hop dance. “At a time when the childhood obesity levels are increasing and physical education classes are being cut from school curriculums, it is more important than ever that parents motivate their children to be fit and active,” Bally CEO Paul Toback said in a statement.
>> A recent poll from SparkPeople.com showed that dieters decide their fate within the first 14 days. Sixty-five percent of the 300 people polled said their diet drive faded in the first two weeks, while more than half went back to the cookie jar after three days. There is hope, though. SparkPeople.com, which provides strategies and online tools for losing weight, said if dieters can get past the early obstacles, they are more likely to succeed. The website offered the following tips to help motivation: Run to the coffee shop or to get the morning paper, and if that doesn’t help get you out of bed, move your alarm clock out of reach. Avoid vending machines and fast food by keeping favorite (and, we assume, low-fat) snacks nearby. Don’t monitor success with a scale — watch your healthy choices instead. Make a plan for what to do if you slip-up — call a friend or do a favorite exercise. Lastly, keep your goal in mind and reward yourself with something like a vacation to the beach or a weekend away. No, food isn’t a reward!
>> Being in the back of the marathon pack doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Just ask Grace Lim, a runner and mom of two, who came up with an ingenious idea to support her running habit. She approached a local retailer, Movin’ Shoes Fox Valley, for a sponsorship (to pay for her running shoes), pitching the idea to owner Ross McDowell that most of his customers were people just like her — back-of-the-pack runners. He agreed, and Lim crossed the finish line at the Fox Cities marathon with a T-shirt, saying: “Where everyone is No. 1” next to the store’s name. McDowell said a slow-moving billboard makes sense, adding that, “Not everyone is a distance runner.” Hey, why should the winners get all the glory?
>> Cuts Fitness For Men, a men’s-only health club akin to Curves for women, was recently named one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Hot, New Franchises for 2005” and also sold its 150th franchise. The company expects to have 750 locations by the end of 2005. It currently has locations in 20 states and several locations in Central America. It recently signed a Master Development Agreement to open 35 locations in Ireland over the next two years. Cuts opened its first fitness center in May 2003 in Clark, N.J.
>> GERMANY — The majority of the states in Germany want to put an end to the 1956 law that regulates when stores can and can’t be open — including its current mandate of times they must close each evening and a prohibition on Sunday shopping. The country’s legislature is to decide if the opening and closing times of stores should be overseen by each state, rather than by national rule. Most of the states want to have their own say-so, it seems, with a majority wanting to make it OK on Monday through Saturday to be open as long as a store decides it wants to be on — even if that means 24 hours. Others haven’t voiced a concrete opinion. National leaders hope to avoid a patchwork of times varying from area to area that could lead to competitive confusion and disarray. In addition, they hope Sunday shopping will be limited to four days a year. The nearly 50-year-old law was updated four years ago — now allowing stores to be open until 8 p.m. on weekdays and 4 p.m. Saturdays.
>> The American Council on Exercise’s (ACE) website, www.acefitness.org, was awarded the Standard of Excellence WebAward. Given by the Web Marketing Association (WMA), the WebAwards are an annual competition designed to judge corporate websites against an Internet standard and against peer sites within their industry. The ACE website, which offers certified fitness professionals and consumers up-to-date fitness information and products, ranked highly in every judging category, including design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, navigation and ease of use. Over the past year, the pro side of the ACE website has been expanded and improved, and includes an online education center and archives of its publications and e-newsletters.
>> We wanted to confirm that yes indeed the 2005 Health & Fitness Business show is being planned, despite continued talk and rumors to the contrary. The dates for next year are Aug. 25-27, in Denver. “This event remains very important to the retail fitness industry,” said Marketing Director An Le of VNU, “especially for up-and-coming brands.”
>> Two more walking and exercise quips, then we promise we’ll stop: “I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.” And remember, “If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.”