>> The business marketplace in Germany took another downturn in March, according to that country’s economic measures, suggesting that not only that country’s but also the entire European Union’s downturn hasn’t reached bottom yet. This is from Germany’s IFo index, and came just before the war was announced. That too indicated an earlier weakness, reports said. “We are close to the turning point, but we have not reached it yet,” said Gernot Nerb, an economist with the Munich-based IFo Institute.
>> Life Fitness parent Brunswick Corp. has released its 2002 annual report. For the fitness division, the company shows net sales of $456.7 million compared to net sales in 2001 of $397.7 million, for an increase of 15 percent. That compared to an increase in 2001 over 2000 of 14 percent. Operating earnings were $44.9 million compared to the previous year’s $28.4 million for an increase of 58 percent, compared to a deficit of 16 percent for 2001 over 2000. Operating margins were 9.8 percent compared to 2001’s 7.1 percent. Fitness showed the largest gains for 2002, bringing the company to net earnings of $103.5 million compared to 2001’s $84.7 million, showing a gain of 22 percent. To view the PDF, go to www.Brunswick.com and click on Investor info.
>> Bally Total Fitness (NYSE: BFT) and Jive Records recording artist Justin Timberlake have announced that they have teamed up on a new campaign featuring the singer’s new hit “Rock Your Body.” Starting this week, Bally will launch a 30-second spot throughout the United States, blending the music with footage of what the club calls “health-conscious individuals as they train and work out.” The commercial will air in heavy rotation for six weeks on all major networks. In addition, Bally will introduce the “Rock Your Body” Member Referral program, a promotional program that will allow Bally’s 4 million members to earn free dues for sponsoring new members. Oh, and Timberlake is a member of Bally.
>> Life Fitness is the premier sponsor for the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2003 Health & Fitness Summit and Exposition — this year in Reno, Nev., April 9-12. Platinum sponsors include Reebok as ACSM’s educational partner. Silver sponsors include Thera-Band.
>> Everlast Worldwide Inc. (Nasdaq:EVST) has reported operating results for its fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2002, with net sales increasing 23.9 percent to $65,613,012 as compared to $52,951,510 reported in 2001. Operating income grew 11.9 percent. “Guided by our brand-driven strategies, we introduced new Everlast products, entered new international markets and signed additional licensing agreements; all of which contributed to our success last year,” said George Horowitz, chairman and chief executive of Everlast Worldwide Inc. Net sales for the fourth quarter advanced 29.2 percent to $18,247,504 as compared to $14,126,298 reported in the fourth quarter of 2001. Operating income for the fourth quarter was $168,291 reversing an operating loss of $16,683 recorded last year. For details, go to www.everlast.com.
>> Assuming a 38 percent industry churn rate on a Jan. 1, 2002, membership base of 33.8 million, the U.S. health club industry signed up more than 15 million new members in 2002, achieving a net gain of 2.5 million members and reaching 36.3 million members as of Jan. 1, 2002, according to the club association, IHRSA.
>> After six months in the U.S. market, Wacoal Sports Science Corp.’s CW-X Performance Conditioning Wear has expanded to 17 states with an independent sales representative force now covering over half the country. Agencies representing Wacoal Sports Science Corp. in the United States are Atlantic Sports Inc., Roger Jones & Associates, Highland Sales Inc., OTR Sales Inc., and The Hammond Group, Inc.
>> San Diego, Calif.-based, efi Sports Medicine has announced a corporate partnership with the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), an organization committed to improving the way adults age, and publisher of The Journal on Active Aging. As part of the partnership contract, efi retains the title of an ICAA preferred vendor and has exclusive rights as the organization’s rehabilitation and personal training category partner. efi will also be highly involved with the creation of the ICAA’s new monthly newsletter focused on rehabilitation and personal training, titled FUNCTIONAL U. efi Sports Medicine is the originator of the commercial grade Total Gym and developer of the GRAVITYSystem.
>> Despite the war drawing the attention of America since its onset, many Americans took a break a week ago to also be consumers. According to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll of 1,020 consumers, 91 percent said the war would not stop them from making a major purchase. Wal-Mart, the biggest retailer, saw little sign that Americans were glued to the TV, reporting traffic was about normal. “We did experience a ‘CNN effect’ late in the week, but the impact was minimal,” a spokesman said. Still, consumers said buying habits could change if the war escalates or terrorists strike on the home front. Mall traffic was also brisk, but outdoor retailers found slower business in some areas because the weather was nice so consumers went outside instead of inside. Online sales are down, says online-sales tracker BizRate.com. “The more shocking the news, the more television-oriented the customer is,” said Chuck Davis, CEO of BizRate.com.
>> Malingers rejoice! Research is showing that taking a break from work, skipping a day, or — gasp — not taking your cell phone, laptop and PDA on vacations may be the best way to overcome the possibility of heart disease and other ailments. A lack of vacations can be a predictor of heart attacks and early death, studies have shown. Other studies have shown fewer physical complaints such as backaches and arthritis pain, including for several weeks after the return from a vacation. They call that the “afterglow.” But you don’t have to go away for weeks or months, researchers say; even a break of one day can relieve symptoms of stress that can cause disease and pains. Here are the three criteria for a healthful break and meeting at least one of them is necessary: The break should have a big enough mental and physical effect on you to create an afterglow, a feeling of pleasure and happiness. It should inspire you to form healthful new habits, such as exercise or eating better. It should enable you to shore up bonds with family and friends.