Thursday, February 26, 2009

Staying Healthy

“Every month, Viviana Prieto and her 15-year-old son balance their household budget. The 42-year-old single mother has cut deep to make ends meet. ‘We cut out the phone. We don't have a land line anymore,’ said the Marion County school teacher. ‘Eating out is a big one we don't do anymore.’ But every month, the pair make sure they have the money for their YMCA memberships. Her son plays basketball at the Ocala facility, and Prieto exercises four or five times a week. ‘This is the first time I can say in my life I'm not overweight,’ she said. ‘To maintain that, I have to keep on a schedule. And I have to be a role model to my son and show him good habits.’ Despite the toll the recession is having on the local and national economies, many people say they won't give up their health club memberships until almost everything else has been cut from their expenses. They said visits to their local gyms keep them healthy, and are meeting places to socialize and network. And Marion County health clubs say their numbers bear that out as memberships are growing despite the area's double-digit unemployment and anemic economy. In fact, the health club industry as a whole tends to weather recessions fairly well, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, a trade group that represents the fitness industry. It says club members view memberships as investments in good health, not luxuries. In Florida, 18.2 percent of the population belongs to a club, the association estimates. And between 2004 and July 2008, the number of clubs in the state grew to 2,223 - a 46 percent increase. If health club memberships remained strong throughout 2008, it will have been the sixth straight year gym memberships increased.”

Teenagers, Health Club Give Fundraiser a ‘Spin'

“Health Unlimited in Mount Airy was full of pedaling feet going nowhere on Saturday morning, all part of an event, called "Spin-4-Life." The spin class fundraiser gathered money for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, which is in May. There were six classes, ranging from a Caribbean Sunrise theme at 7 a.m. with Bob Marley music, to a 9 a.m. class with European House music and a noon class with a summer theme. The $20 fee was donated to the relay. The money goes toward a team walking for Angela Souders, a Mount Airy resident who is active at the gym and is battling stomach cancer, said friend Deanna Tucker. Each class, a 45-minute spin cycle, was full, said the Mount Airy resident who attended two herself. She said the classes raised money through the six classes of 19 bikes each — $2,400—as well as some additional donations. She said Health Unlimited employee Kevin Phelps, came up with the idea and organized the event. Tucker organized a group of teens, composed of her kids and their friends that attended the noon class. Phelps said he taught a few of the classes, including the noon class with the Linganore High School students. ‘They were awesome. I had such a good time with them,’ he said. ‘They were just loud…110 percent whole time.’”

A Workout Routine 60 Years In The Making

“College students aren't the only ones trying to stay fit. Every morning at Campus Recreation Center East, adults ages 55 and over are participating in the Lifetime Fitness Program, which is led by students enrolled in a kinesiology course called "Exercise Instruction and the Elderly." Easily spotted in their green ‘LFP’ T-shirts, undergraduate students lead the participants through seven different fitness exercises while being supervised by two graduate students. ‘It really tests what you know,’ said kinesiology graduate student Anne Parrett. ‘They will come up to you and grill you with questions about why this hurts or that hurts, and you really put what you learned to the test.’ LFP started more than 60 years ago to research the effects of exercise on health. Directed by kinesiology professor Ellen Evans, anyone of age from the Champaign-Urbana area can enroll in the program. Some members have been going for more than 15 years. ‘It's something I look forward to,’ said Carol Ordal, 73, of Urbana. ‘It's not punishment, which exercise sometimes can be.’ Knowing many of the members have been coming for so long, the instructors are challenged to come up with new exercises for the group. ‘They really like new exercises,’ said instructor and senior in kinesiology P.J. Engracia. ‘We try and shake it up and use new and different exercises.’ The graduate students also get experience managing a program and critiquing form, while the undergraduates get experience working with the elderly. ‘They want to adopt you as grandchildren,’ Parrett said. ‘I wouldn't want to do this if they were cranky.’ Evans explained that the program is beneficial for both the participants and the students who run it. The community members are provided with an opportunity for fitness as they age, while the students gain perspective on the elderly. ‘The students may think that older people aren't very functional and that as you get older you become more sedentary,’ Evans said. ‘However, when they meet our members and work with them, they see that they are very functional and active and engaged individuals.’ The instructors lead the participants through 30-minute segments of each type of exercise: stretching, strength, balance, core, flow motion (simplified Tai-Chi), aerobics and pool exercises. Ordal has noticed a significant difference in her everyday life from participating in the program for eight years. She said she has better balance, more strength in her quads and lower cholesterol. Ordal feels fortunate that the University has a program for her to utilize. ‘I really like the group motivation.’ Ordal said. ‘It's much easier to exercise as a group than to try and motivate yourself at home.’ Ordal has recommended the program to her friends and has made several friends in the process. The program is also designed to get elderly people in the community to bond and motivate each other, Parrett said. Parrett and Engracia agree that the people are the best part of the program.”

Boston Sports Clubs Opens its 26th Greater Boston Location in Woburn

“Boston Sports Clubs today announced the ribbon cutting of its 26th facility, located in Woburn, Mass. The newly constructed, 34,500 square-foot facility is the newest among the growing network of BSC locations in greater Boston. BSC Woburn is already serving a diverse membership base comprised of Woburn residents, families and professionals, as well as those from the surrounding communities of Burlington, Reading, Stoneham, Winchester and Wilmington. ‘Boston Sports Clubs is excited and honored to serve the Woburn community and the neighboring towns,’ said Alex Alimanestianu, CEO of BSC. ‘Our Woburn facility incorporates the best of what we've learned from our 78,000 members and our 17 years in Boston to create the absolute most convenient, comfortable and rewarding member experience possible.’ BSC Woburn features full-court basketball, a four-lane lap pool, three group exercise studios, locker rooms, a member lounge, baby-sitting, and an extensive array of the latest cardiovascular machines and resistance exercise equipment. Treadmills, ellipticals and other cardio machines are equipped with entertainment systems so that members can enjoy TV or music while they exercise. In addition, a dedicated personal training area enhances time spent with BSC's staff of professional trainers. BSC Woburn has three group exercise studios with full-length windows where it offers an extensive variety of classes, including Pilates, yoga, cycling and Zumba Dance. Additionally, the club offers BSC's Sports Clubs for Kids, a program of fitness and recreational athletics for ages 3-13 featuring a swim academy, sports leagues, birthday parties and special events. ‘Woburn has a rich and successful sports history and we are thrilled to be part of this city and this region,’ said Ray Dewhirst, vice president of Development. ‘We think that our first-class facility and our philosophy of being able to 'workout where you work and where you live' really set BSC Woburn apart in this community. Area residents who commute to and from Boston will find BSC Woburn to be extremely convenient, making it that much easier to remain committed to their workout schedules.’ ‘Our combination of equipment, classes, facilities and instructors, along with flexible membership offerings represents a tremendous value to individuals, families and corporate members. We know in today's challenging economic climate, Bostonians are carefully evaluating their health and fitness options and we are confident they will find BSC an attractive and rewarding choice for long-term value.’”

Town Sports International Holdings, Inc. Announces Fourth Quarter 2008 Earnings Conference Call

“Town Sports International Holdings, Inc. (TSI) (NASDAQ: CLUB - News), a leading owner and operator of health clubs, will hold its quarterly conference call to discuss fourth quarter 2008 financial results on Tuesday, March 3, 2009, at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. his call is being web cast by Thomson/CCBN and can be accessed at TSI's Web site at, in the "investor relations" section. The web cast is also being distributed through the Thomson StreetEvents Network. Individual investors can listen to the call at, Thomson's individual investor portal, powered by StreetEvents. Institutional investors can access the call via Thomson StreetEvents (, a password-protected event management site.”

HealthFitness to Report Fourth Quarter and Year-End 2008 Financial Results

“HealthFitness Corporation (NYSE: FIT) , a leading provider of integrated employee health and productivity management solutions, will conduct a conference call to discuss its financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2008. The call is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Participants can dial (888) 396-5640 or (706) 643-0580 to access the conference call, or can listen via a live Internet web cast, which can be found at A replay of the call is available by visiting for the next 30 days or by calling (800) 642-1687 or (706) 645-9291, access code 83087940, through March 7, 2009.”

FitLink Revolutionizes Health Club Industry with New Premium Location Services

“, the premier online fitness community, proudly announces the launch of its Premium Location services for fitness facilities. The new service marks the first seamless web branding experience for health clubs to more effectively reach the ever-expanding online world. ‘Most clubs are neither staffed nor equipped to gain a significant presence on the Internet,’ says co-founder Jason Borro. ‘FitLink does the grunt work. All we need is a logo and some basic information, and they’re up and running with an impressive suite of services.’ Members need no longer scour the web for local gym recommendations. On FitLink, health clubs, fitness professionals, and enthusiasts coexist in one social network, effortlessly disseminating information. For the first time, gyms have a branded presence in the online social networking scene. Extending beyond targeted banner placements, FitLink incorporates technically advanced advertising techniques. FitLink’s low-cost Premium Location services transform members into virtual advocates and recruiters for their health clubs. Gyms benefit from the endorsements of thousands of educated and qualified members. Fitness facilities can create a free profile page for each of its locations displaying basic information, activities, specialties, and user ratings. With a premium subscription, the fully-branded profile also incorporates the following features:
• Search result priority
• A company logo and link to your club’s profile on all members’ personal profiles
• Free trial membership passes, special offers, and membership packages
• Facility amenities, photo galleries, and staff profiles
• Discussion boards
• Website links and a FitLink URL
Since the site emerged from beta testing in 2008, user-friendly content and features have been added daily to enhance the relationship between health clubs and their current and potential members. With a 15 percent membership increase in January alone, FitLink’s close-knit community has garnered national attention and support by large chain health clubs, independent fitness professionals, and exercise enthusiasts. ‘Our members develop workouts, find partners, join discussion boards and groups, and track results every day. The site has become an important networking tool for the fitness industry,’ says Christopher Charlier, co-founder.”

Investing in the Obama Factor

“Hope, solidarity, better health care, and a new place for America in the world. These are some of the aspirations America has for the Obama presidency, but if you turn to the personal finance gurus, you'll find another aspiration -- making a quick buck. From the latest green start-up to a major infrastructure play, stock soothsayers from all realms of personal finance have been compiling "Obama portfolios," since before the election result was even known. These are collections of companies from sectors that will benefit from the administration's policies, these analysts say -- often because there might be a direct government subsidy dangled in front of the sector. Builders, agriculture companies, health-care providers and solar energy panel manufacturers all made the cut. In other words: Which companies will bask in the reflected glory of the Obama cultural zeitgeist? After all, the Obamas represent more than a mere shift in government; they represent a cultural and generational shift. Who's to say, for example, that BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion won't benefit from Obama's iconic use of the device as much as Caterpillar will benefit from building shovel-ready infrastructure projects? In anticipation of consumers picking up gear to play basketball just like Barack, we've added Nike (NKE), in whose sweats the president has been photographed. There's also Town Sports International (CLUB), known under the brand name Washington Sports Clubs, as well as similar outlets in Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Obama has been known to frequent this company's gyms, and his focus on physical fitness could inspire other Americans with looser schedules.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Keeping Fit Improves Spatial Memory, Increases Size Of Brain Structure

“When it comes to the hippocampus, a brain structure vital to certain types of memory, size matters. Numerous studies have shown that bigger is usually better. Now researchers have found that elderly adults who are more physically fit tend to have bigger hippocampi and better spatial memory than those who are less fit. The study, in the journal Hippocampus, shows that hippocampus size in physically fit adults accounts for about 40 percent of their advantage in spatial memory. Certain activities are believed to modify hippocampus size in humans. Earlier studies found that exercise increases hippocampus size and spatial memory in rodents, but the new study is the first to demonstrate that exercise can affect hippocampus size and memory in humans. The researchers, from the University of Illinois and the University of Pittsburgh, measured the cardiorespiratory fitness of 165 adults (109 of them female) between 59 and 81 years of age. Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers conducted a volumetric analysis of the subjects' left and right hippocampi. They also tested the participants' spatial reasoning. They found a significant association between an individual's fitness and his or her performance on certain spatial memory tests. There was also a strong correlation between fitness and hippocampus size. ‘The higher fit people have a bigger hippocampus, and the people that have more tissue in the hippocampus have a better spatial memory,’ said U. of I. psychology professor Art Kramer, who led the study with Pittsburgh psychology professor Kirk Erickson. ‘Even ignoring the hippocampus data, we see there is this significant and substantial relationship between how fit you are and how good your memory is, or at least a certain kind of memory, a certain kind of memory that we need all the time,’ Kramer said. ‘This is really a clinically significant finding because it supports the notion that your lifestyle choices and behaviors may influence brain shrinkage in old age,’ Erickson said. ‘Basically, if you stay fit, you retain key regions of your brain involved in learning and memory.’ An impairment of spatial memory ‘is one of a number of reasons why older people end up losing their independence,’ Kramer said. ‘Here is yet more evidence that becoming fit has implications for how well you're going to live your life.’”

Activities Offer Ticket To Full Life

“Even when he was driving freighters for 30 years across the Great Lakes, Jim Murnane wouldn't sit idle. ‘I had a stationary bike in the pilot house,’ he said. Whether the vessels under his command had iron ore, coal, limestone, salt or sand, Murnane looked forward to sailing on open waters, when shipmates could take a turn at the wheel. Jim Murnane, 74 of Myrtle Beach plays racquetball three days a week and takes yoga classes two days a week at Kingston Plantation Health and Sport Club. ‘I might as well be sitting on a bike instead of standing there doing nothing,’ he said. ‘Once you're on the lake, there's nothing to do.’ Whenever he pulled into a port, he'd find somewhere to play racquetball or golf, often with the ship's crew. Nearing his 75th birthday next week, Murnane has spent his almost 25 years of retirement on the go but on solid ground. ‘He wants to keep going all the time,’ said Jo Penney, his girlfriend for two decades and one-time competitive racquetball doubles partner until tearing a rotator cuff. She laughed, noting his frequent requests to join him for a walk around the block. ‘If you've been active all your life, you're in a lot better shape when you're older,’ Murnane said. ‘It's just natural, I think.’ Besides playing racquetball three times a week at Kingston Plantation Health & Sport Club in Myrtle Beach, he takes a yoga class weekly and plays golf occasionally. Murnane treats yoga as his ticket to continue his love for racquetball. ‘It does make a difference,’ he said. ‘It's stretching.’ He views walking as great exercise, but places greater value on yoga. For any older person venturing into yoga, he advises not to get discouraged early on, such as how some body part hurts or that a person can't reach the floor with his or her hands. ‘If you're out of shape, you build up to it,’ Murnane said. ‘It's lubricating the joints.’ A New Hampshire native, he played tennis in high school, but after trying racquetball 40 years ago, he was hooked on the latter. A hip replacement earlier this decade took him off the court for two years, but a doctor's recommendation to play only doubles tennis didn't deter him from his chosen game. Murnane likes the socialization from every two-hour racquetball workout. Larry Church, a 34-year-old trainer at the health club, said he's dabbled in the sport and witnessed Murnane's intensity whacking a blue ball. ‘If I got out there on the court with him, he'd crush me and feel good doing it,’ Church said. Murnane's fitness regimen at his age and his rapport at the club impress Church. ‘He's so steady and consistent, which is 90 percent of the battle,’ Church said.”

Eight Great Gym Deals

The Recession May Be A Boon For Consumers Who Want To Save Money On Getting In Shape

“The health-club industry is notorious for aggressive pricing and complicated member contracts, which can drive away even the most enthusiastic exerciser. But the recession is giving consumers the upper hand in this sometimes lopsided relationship. Take for example, The Sports Club/LA, a high-end club with locations in Los Angeles, New York and Miami. President and founder Nanette Pattee Francini says that while the company exceeded expectations for new memberships in January, it has decided against raising prices for monthly dues (averaging $175) and personal training sessions (about $90). For its lapsed members, the company is also waiving 50% of the initiation fee, which can cost as much $800. ‘We just wanted to say to our members, 'We care, we don't want to lay more stress on you,' says Francini. The club is also offering members new discounts on performances at nearby cultural institutions. The Sports Club/LA isn't the only gym chain offering deals to retain and attract members. New York Sports Club, Equinox and 24 Hour Fitness are following suit by slashing initiation fees and monthly dues, as well as offering a combination of monthly and annual plans that de-emphasize commitment. So far, the impact of the recession on the health-club industry has been mixed. An informal survey recently conducted by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, a trade group, found that two-thirds of the 200 respondents said business in January met or surpassed their expectations. The remainder, however, reported that low usage among existing members and poor sales for new memberships led to monthly results that were dismal compared with the previous January. IHRSA expects to release industry-wide performance results for the fourth quarter in the next few weeks. Katie Rollauer, IHRSA's senior manager of research, expects to see indicators like total revenue and membership dues down from the previous quarter. But she's encouraged by consumer surveys, including one sponsored by the club franchise Anytime Fitness, which indicates that people intend to keep their membership even if it means downsizing to a less expensive club. ‘People are looking for ways to stretch the dollar,’ she says. ‘Clubs that get it are trying to work with their members.’. ‘Long-term discounting on membership dues is never a good idea,’ says IHRSA's Katie Rollauer. ‘It's the bread and butter of the industry.’”

Park Districts Bulk Up Public Fitness Centers

“The new Fitness Station in West Chicago boasts many of the features of a private health club: Aerobics classes keep people sweating to the latest music; cardio machines have screens with built-in video games; T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Fit Happens’ are for sale at the front desk. But the 10,000-square-foot facility, which opened Jan. 3, isn't run by a national fitness chain or even local health-conscious entrepreneurs. It's the latest offering from the park district. ‘We see the value of keeping the community in the community,’ said Nicole Walker, marketing director for the West Chicago Park District. ‘Our goal is to keep it local.’ West Chicago's foray into the world of workouts is one that many communities have made in recent years. In Elmhurst, the park district recently upgraded its fitness facility to include granite counters and automatic soap dispensers in the restrooms. In Oak Brook, members of the Premiere Fitness Club can get massages, free towels after workouts and coffee from an on-site cafe. Downers Grove residents enjoy personal TV screens on cardio equipment. ‘If you look around at surrounding communities, every park district has a fitness facility—and if not, they're trying to get one,’ said Susan Nance, fitness manager for the Downers Grove Park District Fitness Center. ‘It's trying to meet the needs of the community.’ A desire for healthier living is behind the trend, park district officials say. Until recently, most park districts could get away with a small exercise room with a rowing machine and a stationary bike for the handful of interested residents. Today, even residents with basic knowledge of a gym expect top-notch equipment and trendy group exercise classes, they said. ‘I don't think the demand was there 15 years ago,’ said Shirell Mollo, director of communications and marketing for the Oak Brook Park District. ‘Now this is something that people really desire.’ There's been growth in the number of health clubs nationally. In 1982, there were about 6,000 health clubs listed in Yellow Page directories across the country. By 2007, that number had jumped to 30,000, according to Kara Thompson, spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. So far, Thompson said, the private health club industry does not feel threatened by the increase in park district workout facilities. ‘There's a place for every type and genre of club, every niche and style in every given area,’ she said. Park district facilities ’definitely breed a healthy competition.’ Use of the park district facilities varies. In Oak Brook, for example, the majority of the 1,500 people who belong to the fitness center also have memberships at private gyms. Those residents often work out at the Oak Brook facility while their children participate in park district programs, said Joe Nidea, manager of the Premiere Fitness Club.”,0,6798649.story

24-Hour Fitness Club Snap Fitness Now Open In St. Petersburg

“Snap Fitness, a 24-hour fitness club, has opened at Fourth Street and 31st Avenue N, near Harvey's 4th Street Grill. Memberships start at about $1 a day. In addition to offering the latest equipment, Snap Fitness will offer personal training services and group fitness classes.”

Hypertension Affects Brain Function In Children

“Children with high blood pressure are not as good at complicated, goal-directed tasks, have more working memory problems and are not as adept at planning as their peers without hypertension, according to recent research. If they are both hypertensive and obese, they are also more likely to have anxiety and depression. Considering the demands on a child's brain - both in continued development and in education - and the fact that up to 10 percent of the increasing population of obese children have hypertension, these novel findings could give physicians and parents more impetus to diagnose and treat high blood pressure in children. ‘These results were very surprising to me, despite similar findings in adults,’ said Marc Lande, M.D., a pediatric nephrologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and author of the paper published in the Journal of Pediatrics this month. ‘Adults with hypertension often have other problems that might affect cognition such as chronic disease, smoking or alcohol use. However, children with hypertension usually do not have these comorbidities.’ In addition, more than half the children with both hypertension and obesity demonstrated clinically significant anxiety and depression. Lande said he was initially looking at anxiety and depression only to rule to to rule out its interplay with executive function, which is a collection of cognitive abilities that help plan for and respond to complex situations; he did not expect to tease out this new finding. ‘Children with only obesity or only hypertension did not have the anxiety and depression that children with both obesity and hypertension did,’ Lande said. ‘With further study, screening for anxiety and depression could end up being routine when an obese child is diagnosed with hypertension.’”

Stretching Will Enhance Your Flexibility While Exercising

Q: I am an active woman with a busy schedule and I exercise four to six times a week. Recently, I noticed that my flexibility has decreased somewhat. This confuses me because I always thought that regular exercise improved flexibility. What's going on? A: First, I have to give you credit for maintaining a regular exercise routine. Keep up the good work! Based on your information, I suggest that you incorporate stretches as part of your workout routine. Flexibility is enhanced by using a variety of stretching methods. It is best to stretch before and after each work-out. Stretching before a work out prepares your body to take on a work load, helping to avoid sudden shock to you body. It is important to stretch at the end also when your muscles and connective tissues are warm and well-oxygenated. That way it is easier to elongate the musculotendinous unit, which lengthens the actual muscle fiber and increases range of motion. Specific benefits of regular stretching, which improves overall flexibility, include: increased physical efficiency and performance, decreased risk of injury, increased blood supply and nutrients to joint structure, increased neuromuscular coordination and improved muscular balance and postural awareness. These benefits contribute to exercise enjoyment. Your health club may have a poster in their fitness area explaining stretches for all major muscle groups. If your problem persists after stretching regularly, you would be wise to get specific training and advice from a fitness professional.”

Another H.E.R.O. Waiting To Emerge

“Those of us who teach exercise and are involved in health and fitness love acronyms. Each of the past columns have been about the program called Turn Back the Clock or TBTC, as we commonly refer to it. It's a competition where teams of five people try to lose the most body age with the help of the staff of the Provena Saint Joseph Inwood Athletic Club. At the health club, we often name classes using acronyms, such as H.I.T. (high intensity training) or G.R.A.B. (gravity, resistance, abs and BOSU). Of course in that description is another acronym -- BOSU-- which means both sides up. A BOSU looks like a large, plastic ball that was sliced in half. One half is the dome side (DS); the other is the platform side (PF). That said, a person could participate in TBTC, take a H.I.T. class using a BOSU with the DS up. I want to introduce you to H.E.R.O., the acronym that was developed as a result of TBTC. We have heroes in each group that have undertaken this commitment of time, sweat and perseverance. But the idea that one person is more of a hero than the other is just not feasible. TBTC participants will tell you that this has been the greatest program to get them motivated to exercise, and as a result they feel better, improve their health and lose weight. They also will tell you working out with a team creates a positive exercise experience. From the experience of the six weeks on a TBTC team, the staff has given a lifetime of tools with the H.E.R.O. (health, education, responsible, ownership) system. Health - Trainers introduced participants to working out for improved health as the number one goal. Weight loss is often the motivator, and it is great to shed those pounds. But feeling better and increasing longevity is brought to the forefront in the experience. Education - Workouts always are planned out and explained to participants so they not only know how to perform an exercise, but what the benefit of the exercise is as well. A registered dietician comments right in each individual's journal each week. The comments address their eating habits and choices, whether good and bad. Responsible - The point is driven home that ultimately each individual is responsible for his or her own health. Participants have to show their responsibility to the team in showing up for the workouts and to be responsible for what they eat each day. Ownership - Participants take ownership in their own health. Ultimately, isn't that the only way that we can change something if we take ownership of it? Most people's lives are so busy, and we are often last on our own list. This has to stop if we want to succeed. So in essence, consider joining a TBTC team at the Provena Saint Joseph Inwood Athletic Club , learn the H.E.R.O. system, and take a G.R.A.B. class with a BOSU, DS up. You'll love it and be glad you did!”,4_5_JO25_TURNBACK_S1.article

Another H.E.R.O. Waiting To Emerge

“Those of us who teach exercise and are involved in health and fitness love acronyms. Each of the past columns have been about the program called Turn Back the Clock or TBTC, as we commonly refer to it. It's a competition where teams of five people try to lose the most body age with the help of the staff of the Provena Saint Joseph Inwood Athletic Club. At the health club, we often name classes using acronyms, such as H.I.T. (high intensity training) or G.R.A.B. (gravity, resistance, abs and BOSU). Of course in that description is another acronym -- BOSU-- which means both sides up. A BOSU looks like a large, plastic ball that was sliced in half. One half is the dome side (DS); the other is the platform side (PF). That said, a person could participate in TBTC, take a H.I.T. class using a BOSU with the DS up. I want to introduce you to H.E.R.O., the acronym that was developed as a result of TBTC. We have heroes in each group that have undertaken this commitment of time, sweat and perseverance. But the idea that one person is more of a hero than the other is just not feasible. TBTC participants will tell you that this has been the greatest program to get them motivated to exercise, and as a result they feel better, improve their health and lose weight. They also will tell you working out with a team creates a positive exercise experience. From the experience of the six weeks on a TBTC team, the staff has given a lifetime of tools with the H.E.R.O. (health, education, responsible, ownership) system. Health - Trainers introduced participants to working out for improved health as the number one goal. Weight loss is often the motivator, and it is great to shed those pounds. But feeling better and increasing longevity is brought to the forefront in the experience. Education - Workouts always are planned out and explained to participants so they not only know how to perform an exercise, but what the benefit of the exercise is as well. A registered dietician comments right in each individual's journal each week. The comments address their eating habits and choices, whether good and bad. Responsible - The point is driven home that ultimately each individual is responsible for his or her own health. Participants have to show their responsibility to the team in showing up for the workouts and to be responsible for what they eat each day. Ownership - Participants take ownership in their own health. Ultimately, isn't that the only way that we can change something if we take ownership of it? Most people's lives are so busy, and we are often last on our own list. This has to stop if we want to succeed. So in essence, consider joining a TBTC team at the Provena Saint Joseph Inwood Athletic Club , learn the H.E.R.O. system, and take a G.R.A.B. class with a BOSU, DS up. You'll love it and be glad you did!”,4_5_JO25_TURNBACK_S1.article

Health Care Businesses Offering Free Checks

"To celebrate American Heart Month, two businesses along the Randall Road corridor are teaming up to help local families take care of themselves. This month, Physicians Express and Tri-City Fitness, both just off of Randall Road on Main Street in St. Charles, are offering you free services to get your heart health on track. Physicians Express is offering free blood pressure and blood sugar screenings to everyone. ‘Early detection is the key to avoiding heart attack and stroke and these simple tests can help detect a problem before it becomes deadly,’ said Dr. Vimal Patel of Physicians Express. Anyone who visits Physicians Express this month also will receive a free trial membership at Tri-City Fitness, which has exercise equipment and offers classes such as yoga, Pilates, cardio jam and spin. The health club trial also includes a free overall health assessment with blood pressure screening, body composition and nutrition guidance. ‘The value of exercise for a healthy heart is indisputable,’ Patel said. ‘Studies not only show the benefits for the heart but also show exercise decreases chances for diabetes and for developing certain cancers.’ Sue Doherty of Physicians Express said the business thought the free screenings and membership might be especially beneficial to people right now. ‘With the economy, we've noticed people are letting themselves go. They don't have the money or the time and think they don't need it. We want to give them a jump start to help so they don't let themselves go or ignore a problem,’ Doherty said.”

Team Of Sport Science Academics Surveyed 300 Kent Residents And Discovered Wii Fit Is The Most Popular Form Of Home Exercise, England

"Dr Gill Perkins and Dr Ian Swaine from Canterbury Christ Church University conducted a survey of 300 people at the Ideal Home Exhibition at the Kent Showground on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th February. The experts explored the public's exercise habits, their perception of physical activity and their awareness of local schemes which aim to boost people's fitness. Dr Perkins and Dr Swaine discovered that Wii-Fit was the most popular form of home exercise over home-gym equipment and exercise DVDs, although most people who use Wii-Fit only use it once a week. Forty four per cent of those surveyed said they were aware of guidelines for physical activity for health, however, there were various ideas as to what the guidelines were. The majority of people said they that if they wanted advice about physical activity or weight loss and they would prefer to obtain the information from a health specialist or the internet rather than magazines or television. Dr Perkins said: ‘It is surprising how many people in Kent use their homes to keep themselves physically active. Wii Fit is a particular favourite, with many people regularly using home-gym equipment and exercise DVDs. But it's not all about exercise equipment - Kent people are keen on getting active in the garden too.’ Dr Perkins continued: ‘The people of Kent are even more active outside of their home environment. Popular activities include brisk walking and cycling, with many making regular trips to the gym. The people we spoke to were well-informed as to physical activity guidelines, with the internet being a popular choice for seeking out information. However, there is still a significant minority of people in Kent who do not do any kind of physical activity and, of those who were active, most were not active enough to combat a gradual increase in body weight over time.’”

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Hotels Resist Having Defibrillators

“If your heart stops suddenly, you may not want to be at a hotel. Automated external defibrillators -- laptop-sized devices that can automatically restart a heart after sudden cardiac arrest -- are now required equipment on commercial airliners and have saved lives at airports, casinos, health clubs and many public buildings. But hotels have resisted installing them, citing potential liability issues. Global Hyatt Corp. says just roughly 20% of its properties have AEDs -- though that number is increasing. Choice Hotels International Inc. says ‘very few’ of its hotels are equipped. InterContinental Hotels Group PLC says it doesn't require its hotels to have AEDs ‘but the matter is currently under review,’ a spokeswoman says. Marriott International Inc., Hilton Hotels Corp. and Best Western International Inc. all declined to say how many of their hotels have AED devices. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. didn't comment. Expedia Inc. says of the 53,000 hotels that can extensively spell out their amenities on its site, about 7,000 hotels, or 13%, list "medical assistance available," which can include an AED or other services. ‘At a five-star hotel, are they really giving the best service they can to their guests if they don't have an AED?’ asked Maureen O'Connor, public-access defibrillation program manager in San Diego, where a county program to push AED installation has run into resistance from hotels. Hotels worry that if they have the devices, which cost about $1,200 to $2,000 each, they could be sued for failing to have enough units, failing to put them in the right places, or failing to replace batteries or maintain them properly. Another concern: hotel worker training. ‘Our goal is to make sure guests in medical distress are treated by trained personnel, such as EMTs or paramedics,’ says a spokesman for Marriott. The American Hotel and Lodging Association, the trade group for the hotel industry, raised the potential liability issue in a legal-issues briefing to members, though it says it hasn't taken an official position. ’This type of exposure is known as the 'no good deed goes unpunished' exposure,’ the group told its members. ‘None of those arguments could be made if you had no AED at all.’”

CheckFree Now Fiserv

“CheckFree, which was acquired by a peer two years ago, has now adopted the name of its parent company Fiserv. Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV) bought Norcross, Ga.-based CheckFree in December 2007 for $4.4 billion. CheckFree divisions and business units have about 4,000 employees. ‘CheckFree enjoyed 27 years of growth as we played a leading role in the movement from paper to electronic processes in financial services,’ said Fiserv Vice Chairman Pete Kight, in a news release. ‘With our vast cumulative expertise in payments, processing services, risk and compliance, customer and channel management, and business in intelligence and optimization we are singularly focused on defining and transforming the ways in which financial services are delivered.’
• CheckFree's Banking division is now Electronic Banking Solutions and CheckFree's Biller division is now Biller Solutions, Fiserv.
• CheckFree Health and Fitness is now Club Solutions, Fiserv.
• CheckFree Investment Services is now Investment Services at Fiserv.
• CheckFree's former software division is now integrated into existing Fiserv business units.
• All of CheckFree's prior acquisitions, including the Corillian and Carreker businesses, will use the Fiserv name and display the new brand identity.
• and CheckFreePay walk-in payments, will retain their existing names.”

ACAC Builds Bridge Between Doctors, Fitness Providers And The Public

“February is Heart Month, and it is the perfect time to raise awareness about skills that can save lives. On Feb. 24 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. and on Feb. 27 from 10 – 11:30 a.m., ACAC Fitness & Wellness Center will host ‘Save a Sweet Heart’ workshops where the public can learn to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and receive an overview of CPR/AED techniques. Advance registration is required. One in 400,000 people will go into cardiac arrest while working out at a health club, cites Joe Schwar, a membership coordinator and CPR instructor at ACAC. Statistically, that would mean that ACAC has seen more than its fair share of action. Schwar recounts the successful resuscitation of three individuals at ACAC over the past 11 years using a combination of CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED). One morning last December, it was business as usual—until the AED alarm went off. Emergency codes indicating that a member was experiencing a life-threatening emergency were broadcast over all of the company’s two-way radios. ‘Your heart just sinks when you hear the alarm,’ says Schwar, ‘and then you spring into action because you know that every second counts. As a precautionary measure, we respond to all priority emergency calls by pulling our AED.’ ‘ACAC’s Save a Sweet Heart classes are a great chance for parents to learn valuable skills to protect their children. And couples like the idea of being able to help their partner during a crisis. These classes are not full certifications, but participants will walk away with basic CPR/AED information. I hope people will take advantage of this opportunity.’ ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers were early adopters of the AED, a device that detects abnormal heart rhythms. ‘If someone goes into cardiac arrest, AED use greatly improves the patient’s chances for survival,’ says Schwar. ‘If CPR is started right away and the rescue squad arrives within four to six minutes, survival rate is about 17%. With an AED, the chance for survival jumps to 70%.’ Schwar attributes ACAC’s excellent track record for emergency response to company-wide CPR/AED training. ACAC team members across all departments, whether they work four hours or forty per week, are required to be CPR/AED certified. ‘We take our members’ health very seriously,’ says Joyce Steed, general manager at ACAC. ‘While we obviously like to be in the business of preventing health crises, we need to be able to act swiftly in the event of an emergency.’ According to Steed, the health and fitness industry is realizing more than ever the overlap between health services and exercise providers. ‘There is a real movement towards medical fitness,’ says Steed. ‘Exercise is a great form of medicine to treat and prevent an incredible range of health problems. The missing link is a bridge between the doctor’s office and a patient’s daily life.’ The American Medical Association seems to agree. Its Exercise is Medicine™ campaign, launched in November 2007, urges doctors to monitor patients’ physical activity levels and to prescribe exercise. One of the studies behind that campaign showed that patients look to their doctors for health and wellness advice and that they are more likely to exercise if it is prescribed by a doctor. Despite the AMA’s glowing endorsement of exercise, Steed identifies one problem that remains. ‘The majority of people need some guidance or motivation to break old habits. I imagine after a doctor has prescribed exercise that some patients ask themselves, ‘What next?’ Most of our new members want to know what kinds of things they should do, for how long and if they’re doing it safely and effectively. That requires some professional input.’”

Diabetes Rising Faster In UK Than America

“A new study found that the rate of new cases of diabetes in the UK rose by 74 per cent between 1997 and 2003, and has now overtaken the rate in North America, which has one of the highest incidences of diabetes in the world. The study's lead author is Elvira Massó González of the Spanish Centre for Pharmacoepidemiologic Research in Madrid, and is to be published this week in the online issue of Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. According to the Telegraph, Massó González told the press: ‘Our results suggest that, although the incidence of diabetes remains lower in the UK than in the USA or Canada, it appears to be increasing at a faster pace.’ The study looked at new and existing cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the UK, using data from the Health Improvement Network database between 1996 and 2005. The researchers found that over those ten years, 42,642 people in the UK were diagnosed either with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Type 1 usually affects younger people, and type 2 usually develops later in life due to being obese or overweight, but in recent years patients have been getting younger, some as young as seven, said a report from the BBC. Of those newly diagnosed cases, just over 1,250 were for type 1 and more than 41,000 were for type 2 diabetes. The results showed that the overall prevalence of diabetes went up from 2.8 per cent of the population in 1996 to 4.3 per cent in 2005, equal to an annual rise of just under 5 per cent and an increase of 54 per cent over the decade. The prevalence was found to be 29 per cent higher among men than among men. The rise is predominantly due to a rise in type 2 cases: new cases of type 1 have remained much the same every year for those ten years, but type 2 new cases went up from 2.6 to 4.31 cases per 1,000 patient years, equivalent to a rise of 69 per cent over the decade, and rising even more rapidly in the latter part: by 74 per cent between 1997 and 2003. Diabetes UK reports that the study shows obesity playing a significant role in the sharp rise of type 2 diabetes in the UK. In 1996 of the people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, 38 per cent were overweight and 46 per cent were obese. In 2005, these figures were 32 and 56 per cent respectively. 2.5 million of people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes and another half million have it and don't know it. Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK , said in a press statement: ‘This research is a sad indictment of the current state of the UK's health.’ ‘Sadly, the statistics are not surprising, as we know that the soaring rates of type 2 diabetes are strongly linked to the country's expanding waistline,’ he added. Studies show it's possible for people to significantly reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by keeping to a healthy weight and waistline. ‘It is imperative that we raise awareness of the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet and doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day if we want to make any headway in defusing the diabetes time bomb,’ warned Smallwood.”

Healthy Competition

“If you think Sir Richard Branson has already successfully done it all, brace yourself - the multi-billion dollar entrepreneur is about to stir up further healthy competition on Aussie shores with a new series of Virgin gyms. The latest arm of the Virgin brand, Virgin Active gyms, promises bigger clubs, cheaper rates and no complicated contracts, essentially giving other major players in the fitness industry a run for their money. According to the marketing hype, Virgin Active is already one of the largest health club businesses in the world, with over 170 clubs and more than 900,000 members since its inception in 1999. Incidentally, the chain started in South Africa when Nelson Mandela called Branson to tell him one of their health chains was going to go bust and hundreds of jobs would be lost. Virgin Active opened and now has 80 clubs across South Africa. So, how does Virgin Active compare to its competition? Branson insists: Virgin Blue build 5000 or 6000 square metre clubs as opposed to 2000 or 3000 square metres. People don't have to line or pile into studios. There are an array of mind/body classes to choose from. All clubs boast 25m swimming pools as well as sleep pods for a quick daytime power nap! Virgin Active won't have contracts. Instead, they run on two-weekly rolling payments. Initially members sign up for a month and then roll on every two weeks. They need to give three days notice prior to payment coming out to cancel. Memberships will cost around $20/week. Virgin Active is currently developing sites across Australia. The very first Australian club opened in Frenchs Forest, Sydney in December 2008, and in June 2009, Melbourne will welcome its very own at 138 Bourke St.”

Young Adults In US Face Health Challenges: CDC

“No health insurance, obesity, poor health habits, and unintentional injuries are some of the key health challenges facing young adults in the United States today, according to the latest report on the nation's health. This year's annual report -- Health, United States: 2008 -- prepared by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics - features a special section on the health and health habits of young adults aged 18 to 29 years. According to the report, obesity rates have tripled among young adults in the past three decades, from 8 percent during the period 1971-1974 to 24 percent during the period 2005-2006. ‘Obesity rates do not appear to be increasing as rapidly as they did in past decades, but remain high, with over a third of adults age 20 and over considered to be obese in 2005-2006,’ the CDC notes in a written statement. What's more they often lack health insurance. In 2006, according to the report, 34 percent of adults aged 20 to 24 had no health insurance and 29 percent of those aged 25 to 29 were uninsured. Young adults, Bernstein noted, are often uninsured ‘because they are young, and some of them don't have jobs because they just finished school. Also, employers today are less likely to provide health coverage to new employees.’ ‘There also seem to be huge access problems among the uninsured,’ Bernstein said. During 2004 and 2006, 17 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 reported needing but not receiving medical care, prescription drugs, mental health care, or eyeglasses because they could not afford them. ‘It is a big problem,’ she said.”

Recovery Days Maximize Weight Loss And Fitness Gains

“When is the last time that a fitness expert told you to take it easy in order to improve your health? It doesn't seem logical that intentional laziness would have any benefit in the context of a fitness program. But it does. In fact, many coaches consider a recovery day as important as speed days, endurance days, and technique work. To clarify, a recovery day is not a day off. No fitness gains will be achieved by sitting on the couch and reminiscing about the prior day's feats at the health club. Active recovery is the key to a well rounded workout plan. Active recovery means that you still work out but at an intensity level that is greatly reduced, say 60% of your max heart rate, and a shorter duration than usual. Thirty minutes of a brisk walk on the day after a long run helps the body fully reap the benefits of longer endurance efforts. This light day not only allows your muscles the time they need to repair but also helps to increase blood flow, preventing sore muscles and stiffness. When I taught spinning, it was typical to see a few regulars come in every day and spin to the point of near collapse. Spin classes are a great opportunity to push the envelope of intensity. But by pushing hard every single day they never allowed their bodies to adequately recover and ended up always exercising at a diminished capacity. A recovery day would have allowed their bodies to refuel for a more effective future workout. Fitness gains also diminish after the body adjusts to the same old routine. A smarter plan is to give your body the benefit of a range of intensities. Plan no more than three or four hard days a week and follow these with moderately easy shorter workouts. This balanced approach keeps the mind and body fresh for workouts that will help you to push past plateaus and realize significant fitness and weight loss gains.”

New Standards Urged For Treatment At Spas

“Legislators and doctors are pushing tougher rules for the exploding medical spa business in Massachusetts, saying some of the thousands of consumers who receive laser treatments, chemical peels, and other procedures are being put at risk by unlicensed and untrained providers. These spas, which offer medical procedures along with traditional beauty salon services such as hair care and pedicures, would have to be licensed by the Department of Public Health, according to a proposal from a legislative task force. And laser skin procedures, including the removal of age spots and tattoos, would have to be performed by a doctor or nurse with special training. Nonmedical practitioners - cosmetologists, electrologists, and aestheticians - would be allowed to remove body hair using a laser, but only after special training and certification. The group said in its report that doctors and other professionals not specifically trained in dermatology have begun offering laser skin procedures, which ‘presents an unacceptable risk to patients.’ ‘An ER physician can't just walk out of their ER and start doing Botox’ injections, said Russell Aims, spokesman for the Board of Registration in Medicine, which licenses doctors and spearheaded the medical spa task force. ‘A hospital wouldn't allow a dermatologist to do brain surgery.’ Because consumers pay cash for cosmetic procedures, rather than use insurance coverage, ‘the same standards have not been applied as in traditional medicine,’ Aims said. The number of medical spas nationwide has skyrocketed to about 2,500, compared with 500 in 2004, said Hannelore Leavy of the International Medical Spa Association. The group, based in New Jersey, does not know how many of these spas operate in Massachusetts, but task force members said there are probably several hundred, with dozens along Boston's Newbury Street and in the Chestnut Hill section of Newton. Regulating medical spas is complicated because they combine many different professionals under one roof, including cosmetologists, electrologists, aestheticians, nurses, and physicians. In Massachusetts, each of these professions is licensed by its own board, and each has its own standards. There are no overall regulations governing who can do certain cosmetic procedures and what type of training is required, and there is no requirement that medical spas be licensed. Senator Joan Menard, a Democrat from Fall River who sponsored legislation based on the proposal; said she pushed for creation of the task force because she was hearing from friends and acquaintances "who were dermatologists or nurses about the growing incidence of damage to women by people who are not licensed and are using chemicals, or Botox or lasers. . . . There were people severely burned or scarred." The administration of Governor Deval Patrick believes that medical spas should be regulated because they perform medical procedures, although it has not taken a position on the filed legislation, said Paul Dreyer, director of healthcare safety and quality for the Department of Public Health. The agency does not have data on the frequency of problems at medical spas. Medical spa owners in Massachusetts are split over the proposed rules. Andrew Reudnick, president of Sleek Medical Spa, a Florida company with four locations in Massachusetts, said the regulations would ‘make it a much safer environment for consumers.’ But Karin Flynn, owner of Laser Spa in Newton, said that requiring spas to comply with a new set of extensive rules ‘would raise prices enormously’ for consumers.”

Slimmers Still Ahead In Battle Of The Bulge

“Progression was on the menu for our Telegraph Slimmers as week eight came and went with yet more pounds shed. Collectively, 4.4lb was lost, as the 13-week schedule for our selected Slimmers – all on different diet plans – nears its completion. We can do it... the determined Telegraph Slimmers after the latest weigh-in at the Oasis Health Club. Four of our selected five each lost 1.1lb, leaving Emma Lynn, nutritionist and partner of Aqua Viva Health, delighted at the consistency being showed by the fantastic fivesome. She said: ‘I've been away on holiday for two weeks and it is absolutely fantastic to come back and see that they are consistently losing weight.’ ‘Again they have all lost weight, or at least stayed at the same level, which is great to see.’ At the weekly weigh-in at Grimsby's Oasis Health Club, the slimmers yet again faced the scales. Despite a hectic week for our Family Friendly Slimmer, 27-year-old Katie Ligertwood, of Grimsby's Baytree Avenue, it was still a success as she shed 1.1lb. She said: ‘It has been a very busy week because I have had the children off. But we have done lots of running and walking in the park so it has been a good week.’ Busy Bee teacher Sarah Worrell, of Filey Road, Grimsby, also lost 1.1lb – for the second week running. She said: ‘It has been another really good week.’ ‘I have bought some more gym gear and I have gone down two sizes so I am over the moon.’ Another to lose 1.1lb was Julie Hostad (52), of Fords Avenue, Healing, who is tackling the My Way plan. She said: ‘I'm really happy this week.’ ‘It is half-term so I have been to the gym every day, and it has been another good week.’ Socialite Paula Marrows (45), of Glebe Road, Scartho, was the fourth slimmer to lose 1.1lb. She said: ‘It has been another week of losing weight. We all seem to stay the same and nobody has put any on, so I'm happy.’ Staying the same weight was Sheila Patrick (68), of Grimsby's Yarborough Road, who follows the Just Me plan. She said: ‘I've done quite a lot of exercise but it seems I'm just on one level at the moment.’ ‘I am quite pleased to have stayed the same.’”

LA Fitness Planned For Mount Lebanon

“Green Tree-based Kossman Development Company plans to bring an LA Fitness location to Mount Lebanon. The company will present the proposal to the Mt. Lebanon Planning Board, seeking a change to the zoning ordinance of its overlay district, which would allow a health club as a conditional use. In a prepared release, Kossman described the presentation as the first step in the process to secure L.A. Fitness International LLC as a tenant for the proposed development. Kossman plans to build two 40,000-square-feet speculative office buildings at the intersection of Mount Lebanon Boulevard and Castle Shannon Boulevard. If approved, the LA Fitness location is expected to bring 60 to 80 jobs and would have a full-service health club with covered parking that would feature racquetball, basketball, a broad range of group fitness programs and an indoor swimming pool.”

Monday, February 23, 2009

Handling Stress Brought On By the Economy

“In this economy, many have fears over losing a job, not being able to make payments, or evaporating retirement accounts. Dealing with all the worries can increase stress, if it isn't managed. To help you 'Survive in '09' there are some ways to cope with the worry over wealth. ‘When I'm working out, and pumping the weights, it makes me feel good mentally and physically,’ explained Mark Morgan. On most afternoons, you'll find the 26-year-old pumping iron at 24 Hour Fitness on Central Expressway in Dallas. ‘This is my place of comfort. I know that I'm not having to deal with bills when I'm here, I'm not having to deal with gas prices fluctuating when I'm here,’ Morgan said of his workout environment. ‘I'm able to deal with what's most important… my health, my life.’ Like many North Texans, Morgan is feeling the weight of the economy and working off a little stress. In fact, officials with 24 Hour Fitness say they have seen about a 15-percent increase in membership. "As you work out your body releases endorphins. It's a chemical process internally but as you're working out your body defuses itself where it becomes a lot more relaxed," explained 24 Hour Fitness Manager Omar Aguirre. Trainers say when you're relaxed and energized, you see the person in the mirror in a whole new light. Jassy Bigelow works out regularly and said, ‘You may be in a really bad position, may have lost your job, but if you have a clear mind, through exercise, it helps make things look a little more positive. It might make you a little more energetic, if you're out there looking for another job, another position, or seeing things in a totally different way.’”

Gyms In Good Shape Amid Lean Times

“With more time on their hands because business is slow, and with stress levels rising as they struggle to deal with the economic downturn, more people are turning to fitness as a salve. Gyms and fitness centres are seeing a marked increase in patronage. A Straits Times check of seven local fitness chains shows that all have seen membership figures soar by 10per cent to 100per cent over the past six months. Two budget gyms showed the largest jump. One, Fitness Force, with one outlet at a community centre at Cairnhill, has seen membership double to 300. It charges $65 a month. The other, women's gym Contours Express, has reported a 30per cent membership increase at its three gyms - to a total of 600 members. Members pay $59 each a month. Three other chains - ClubFITT, Sky Fitness and Speed Institute - showed a 10per cent to 17per cent increase. 'Numbers are really picking up,' said Fitness Force owner Keith Tan, 35. He says most of the new members are working adults between the ages of 25 and 50. 'We thought the recession would mean fewer people signing up, but the opposite happened.' A check with the latest Yellow Pages directory shows there are now 70 listings under the health club and gym categories, up from 53 listings in the 2007-2008 edition. This fitness frenzy is reflected in a Mastercard survey taken here in January, which measured what 400 people will be spending their money on in the next six months. The fitness and wellness industry had the second-highest resilience index score at 73, after the property and renovation category, which came in first at 77. This, said Singapore Sports School assistant director of sports Chan Wai Lin, is not surprising because 'in times of recession, people look for a way to keep their mood up and relieve stress'. She added: 'It could also be because they have more time on their hands now.' This is true for True Fitness member Edmund Poh, who was retrenched last December. The 26-year-old now goes to the gym every day for three hours each time, up from a two-hour session twice a week when he was still working. The former bank employee said: 'Since I lost my job, I've had so much time and nothing to do. It can be boring. So I decided I might as well make use of my time.' Sales executive Nixon Yip, 28, will be joining a gym 'definitely this year' to quell his 'recession fears and keep fit'. He said: 'Exercising will help me to keep these things off my mind.' Others also say the recession has turned them into fitness freaks. Ms Wo Yu Jia, 37, said the stress of coping with the downturn made her sign up with a yoga gym last November. The 37-year-old said: 'Exercise keeps me happy. It helps me handle emotional imbalances, especially now when the bosses are screaming at us to meet targets.' Encouraged by the increased uptake in memberships, some fitness centres are looking to expand their businesses. But some members are paying the price for this popularity. Mr Brian Chew, 28, says it is now more difficult to find a spot at his favourite spin class at California Fitness. The sales engineer said: 'It is so much more crowded than it used to be. We used to be able to just walk in. Now, spots are all booked-up way in advance.'”

Only Exercise Prevents Low-Back Problems: Clinical Trials' Review

"Low-back pain continues to impose a huge burden on industrialized societies, in terms of symptoms, medical costs, productivity, and work absence. Annual costs related to back pain in the United States alone may run as high as $100 billion per year. But a systematic review of the literature for high-quality scientific trials published in the February issue of The Spine Journal finds exercise in workplace and community settings effective in preventing new episodes of low-back problems. ‘Strong and consistent evidence finds many popular prevention methods to fail while exercise has a significant impact, both in terms of preventing symptoms and reducing back pain-related work loss,’ said Dr. Stanley J. Bigos, University of Washington professor emeritus of orthopaedic surgery and environmental health. Bigos and his colleagues assessed methodological quality and potential for bias of clinical trials in preventing episodes of back problems. The researchers found 20 controlled trials to be high-quality according to Cochrane Collaboration Back Review Group criteria. Seven of the eight high-quality trials promoting various exercise programs were found effective, but other common and popular methods failed including: reduced lifting programs, back or ergonomic educational interventions, lumbar supports, shoe inserts and stress management. ‘Passive interventions such as lumbar belts and shoe inserts do not appear to work,’ Bigos said. ‘And eight trials found ergonomic interventions, of either reducing lifting, or back or ergonomic training sessions to be ineffective in preventing back problems.’"

Alabama Receives Grant To Combat Obesity

“The Alabama Department of Public Health is one of eight state health departments selected to receive grants to support the development of physical activity and nutrition programs in partnership with selected communities. Because of the BITE (Balancing InTake and Expenditure) grant, the department will provide $15,000 directly to community groups. Alabama has developed a competitive process to select at least five local communities to receive grants by April 2009. Successful community applicants will demonstrate that partnerships are in place to effectively plan and implement physical activity and nutrition projects to reduce community risks for obesity. Community applicants will be expected to convene and coordinate a coalition of organizations that are vested in improving physical activity opportunities and improving nutritional status of their residents. These groups and their members will become part of a research project that will test various methods of project management. The planning and implementation of community projects will take place during the 13-month period from July 1, 2009, to July 31, 2010. The local project coordinator or chair will become a member of the state's Obesity Task Force. The community groups receiving awards will be encouraged to embrace combating obesity as a continuous priority. Eligible applicants for BITE grants were the 15 states with the highest overweight and obesity rates in the U.S. The state grants were awarded based on the strength of the state's history and current ability to build and sustain partnerships with state and community-level organizations with capacity to build community-based health initiatives in obesity prevention. Other states selected were Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia.”

Unhealthy Lifestyle More Than Doubles Stroke Risk

“Stroke is one of the leading causes of illness and death worldwide. In the UK alone, the estimated annual cost of caring for stroke is around £7 billion. There is good evidence to suggest that lifestyle behaviours like smoking, physical activity and diet can influence the risk of heart disease, but their impact on stroke is less well known. So researchers based in the east of England set out to examine the impact of four health behaviours on stroke risk in a large group of men and women living in Norfolk. The study involved 20,040 men and women aged 40-79 years old who were taking part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Study (EPIC). Between 1993 and 1997, participants completed a detailed health and lifestyle questionnaire and underwent a thorough health examination by trained nurses. Participants scored one point for each of four healthy behaviours: current non-smoking, physically not inactive, moderate alcohol intake (1-14 units per week) and blood vitamin C levels of 50 µmol/l or more, indicating fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day. An individual could therefore have a total health behaviour score ranging from zero to four, with a higher score indicating more protective behaviour. Participants were then followed for an average of 11 and a half years. Strokes were recorded using death certificates and hospital discharge data. There were a total of 599 incident strokes during the follow-up period. After adjusting for other factors that may have affected the results, the risk of stroke was 2.3 times greater in those with a score of four compared to those with a score of zero. A significantly higher percentage of women scored four compared to men. The risk of stroke increased in linear fashion with every point decrease in health behaviour score. So, for example, those with a score of two were one and a half (1.58) times more likely to have a stroke than those with a score of four, while those with a score of just one were just over twice (2.18) as likely to have a stroke. The authors acknowledge that their study has some limitations, but suggest that the results may provide further incentive and support for the notion that small differences in lifestyle may have substantial potential impact on stroke risk. The conclusion that lifestyle predicts the risk of stroke should help to inform individuals' choices and policy-makers' decisions, writes Dr Matthew Giles from the Stroke Prevention Research Unit at John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford in an accompanying editorial.”

Who Puts the Boom in Boot Camps

“Fitness Boot Camps Canada, Canada’s leading results-based fitness company, is expanding with 3 new boot camp locations in Calgary. These camps open March 2nd 2009 at Calgary NE 530pm Winston Heights Community Association, Calgary NE 530am BDB Martial Arts and West hills/ West Hillhurst In Calgary times TBA. This will propel Fitness Boot Camps Canada to a total of 10 locations in Alberta – making it a convenient fitness alternative for residents of Calgary. These locations were selected because they have great indoor and outdoor facilities including open fields, running paths and multiple elements that make outdoor fitness ideal for this location, says Allan Fine, founder and owner of Fitness Boot Camps Canada (FBCC). ‘Boot camp is by far, the hottest fitness trends in the country and a great way to meet health-related and fitness goals and have a good time while you’re doing it,’ adds Fine, who as creator and founder of Fitness Boot Camps Canada is an NFPT personal trainer and a certified professional life coach. ‘We know our clients are busy with work and family, and we take that into account when designing our programs. We’re excited for this newest move as a these 3 locations brings convenience to a whole new set of clientele.’ FBCC is fully permitted and authorized to offer indoor and outdoor fitness boot camps at multiple park locations . According Allan Fine, founder and President of Fitness Boot camps Canada, the company’s 30-365 day results-based indoor and outdoor fitness boot camp program offers weight, core, cardio and cross-training workouts like no other traditional fitness program. Coupled with a nutritional regimen, this program is designed to help clients of all fitness levels get into shape. Unlike many other boot camp-like programs that only offer one trainer, FBCC has a team of dedicated and certified group fitness instructors who consistently push clients outside their comfort zone while maintaining a positive, friendly environment. This intensive training program has helped thousands of ordinary participants reach above and beyond their fitness goals. As a nationally recognized expert and motivational speaker in the fitness industry, Fine works proactively in terms of safety and certification to stay ahead of the curve. Safety and providing an outstanding experience for her participants is of utmost importance to the program and each of the FBCC instructors are insured, trained in safety precautions, CPR, injury response, and are outdoor fitness experts. Each outdoor boot camp program is authorized.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Power From The People: Gym’s Members Help Keep Lights On

“Why not use people power to make electric power? So much energy is burned off in gyms and health clubs — and anywhere else people are walking, running, dancing, even fidgeting — that linking America's twin wars on obesity and energy overconsumption seems a no-brainer. You could power your club, maybe sell some electricity back to the grid, and save big time on your bill. After all, hundreds of people are coming through and working out all day long. How could it not be a generating gold mine? Gyms in world-class cities like London and Hong Kong are taking a run at this idea. But you can find a closer one on that boulevard of hip-ness, Northeast Alberta Street in Portland. The Green Microgym has been gathering momentum there since it opened in August 2008. Owner Adam Boesel, a "typical green Northwesterner," he said, was working as a fitness trainer at a Seattle health club when he decided to go into business for himself and went looking for a marketing strategy. How could his gym be different from everyone else's gym? His bet on an environmentally friendly gym in environmentally friendly Portland turned out to a winner. Today there are approximately 125 members paying $39 (individual) or $59 (couple) to let themselves in and use the unassuming, occasionally staffed 2,800-square-foot storefront facility. ‘People like this idea,’ Boe-sel said. ‘It's the kind of thing they've thought of already and they're so pumped to see it happening.’ Boesel's handful of elliptical trainers, treadmills and exercise bikes are all retrofitted with flywheels or resistors that use their own spinning action to charge up a big portable battery — which can then be used to power the Green Microgym's lights, TVs or stereo system — or feed power back into a wall socket. Boesel worked with the Energy Trust of Oregon to install ‘net metering’ technology that allows the Green Microgym to deliver electricity back to the local power grid and get credit for it. (Net metering is available in Clark County; visit ). The Green Microgym offers a ‘burn and earn’ program to benefit members for the power they generate — or, rather, for the time they spend generating power. They keep track of that time on punch cards — it's an honor system — and for every 10 hours completed, they get $10 vouchers for neighborhood businesses including cafes and wine bars. ‘What other gym can you join where you get in shape, power the CD player and make power to make money to use in the neighborhood?’ Boesel said. Explore the catalogs of the exercise equipment giants and you won't find much that generates electricity. ‘Have we thought about it? Are we thinking about it? Sure,’ said Tim Joyce, senior vice president and general manager of Nautilus, the exercise equipment maker headquartered in Vancouver. ‘But there's not a lot of research and development around it.’ Just making a product green isn't enough to sell it to consumers who are already pleased with what they've got, he said. ‘Consumers are pretty spoiled,’ he said. ‘You'd need to have a product that's as good as what they already have and then add value, give them more. That's going to be hard to do around just making it green.’ ‘A lot of gyms have large spinning group exercises with 30 or 40 or 50 people exercising at the same time,’ he told the BBC. ‘Everyone is working extra hard and you have a lot of people doing it at the same time, and a machine like the Dynamo, if you figure a 100 watts per machine and you have 40 machines, that's 4,000 watts.’ That could be enough to power the whole club, he noted — if the air conditioners aren't going full blast.”

Taking a Spin for Hope at Westboro Tennis & Swim Club

“On Sunday, March 1, the American Cancer Society will host Spin for Hope - a three-hour indoor cycling event that will take place simultaneously at participating health clubs in Massachusetts. Locally, the event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at Westboro Tennis & Swim Club, 35 Chauncy St. Westboro Tennis & Swim Club will also host a survivor breakfast to honor cancer survivors and their caregivers from 8:15 to 8:50 a.m. Everyone is welcome to attend the breakfast, even those not cycling. Free food and refreshments will be served, donated from local vendors such as BJ's Wholesale Club, Edible Arrangements, Dunkin' Donuts and many others. Spin for Hope participants can register as an individual and cycle for the entire three hours, or form a team of two or more people and take turns. Registration fee is $25. Prizes will be awarded to top fundraising individuals. Those interested can also support the event by donating to their favorite cyclist or team, volunteering their time, or by becoming an event sponsor. In 2008, 25 health clubs around Massachusetts participated in Spin for Hope, rasing $247,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society's research, education, advocacy and patient support programs. For more information, to register at a participating health club or to host an event at a local club, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit .”

Curves® Of Lakewood Rolls Out Red Carpet To Silver

“Curves of Lakewood is rolling out the red carpet to members of the award-winning Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program, the nation's leading exercise program designed for older adults. Beginning January 1, 2009, SilverSneakers members are eligible to join Curves of Lakewood at no cost. ‘We are so pleased to welcome local SilverSneakers members to Curves of Lakewood,’ said club owner Cathy Childs. ‘As you age, your risks for debilitating disease increase, and being overweight or obese significantly adds to that risk. At Curves of Lakewood, we have programs that help women of all ages do the three most significant things they can do to decrease their risks -- manage their weight, exercise regularly, and eat healthfully.’ We have two locations in Lakewood, one is located at 85 S Union Blvd (Just N of Alameda behind Wendy's) call 303-984-2702, the other is at 7625 W Hampden Ave (At the corner of Wadsworth & Hampden behind Abe's restaurant) call 303-984-4760 for an appointment with one of our friendly, knowledgeable trainers or stop by either of our Curves locations. We would love to show you our great club and all it has to offer including our free weight management program. There are 6,500 Curves locations and more than 2.5 million women in the U.S. who are eligible for the SilverSneakers program.”

The Zumba Boom [Video]

“It [zumba] arrived at Bodyworks Fitness Center in Marlborough just last month, and already there's been enough interest to add three classes, said gym owner Janice Flanigan. And Marlborough is only a microcosm of the exuberant dance/workout's popularity. Zumba (pronounced ZOOM-buh) has gained devotees in China, Italy and Spain — and in Connecticut gyms, community centers and schools from Bloomfield to Danbury, Middletown to Brookfield, Newtown to New Milford. And everywhere, the official slogan is: ‘Ditch the workout, join the party.’ Make that the ‘sweaty party.’ By some counts, reasonably committed participants can burn 500 calories in an hourlong class, said Danielle Rich, a Zumba instructor at the Taking Care Center in downtown Hartford. She's been teaching since October. ‘I'm a dancer, so I was thinking, 'I don't really know if I'm going to like this,' but I really like the dance-fitness thing," Rich said. "I think a lot of people feel silly at first, but that's what makes people smile. I love watching the looks on the faces of the people in class. That's what makes the class for me. I know they're having a good time.’ Laura Namnoun, Taking Care's group exercise director (and master personal trainer), has been pleasantly surprised by the turnouts and the people who keep coming back. ‘The first day of class, our exercise room holds 30 or 40 comfortably, and over 60 came,’ she said. ‘We were moving equipment just to make room for everybody, and then we were waiting the next time to see how many came back, and they all did.’ Part of the attraction is that participants forget they're working out. It's not a boring half-hour on an elliptical machine or a mindless moment on a stair-stepping machine. And Zumba, a Colombian expression for moving fast and having fun, lets participants move at their own pace. ‘You end up laughing at yourself,’ said Namnoun. ‘People sweat without having to think about it. For myself, the first time it was hard to catch on, and then the second time I got into it more and more.’”,0,6996336.story

How to Choose a Health Club

“Are you thinking of joining a health club? How many times have you skipped a workout because the gym is too far away or will be too crowded when you get there? If you’re like a lot of people, the answer is ‘too many.’ Why give yourself an out? Cut the excuses by doing your homework and choosing a club that’s right for you. It’s no secret that picking a quality club is key to sticking with your program. But choosing a health club can rank high on the confusion meter. Sign-up specials scream in all forms of media, and it seems there’s a new club on every corner. Before you jump on the latest two-for-one membership deal, take the time to consider these helpful tips: […] Reputation—Before you join, talk to current members about their experiences with the club. The Better Business Bureau or state Attorney General’s office can tell you if the club is a member or if any complaints have been registered against it. Added security comes if the club is a member of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). IHRSA clubs must oblige by a code of ethics that protects the health and safety of their members, as well as protects consumers from unscrupulous business practices. To find an IHRSA club in your area, visit”

Feeling Fit And Feeling At Home In The Water

“When Paul Rhodes took his first dip in the therapy pool at Longmont United Hospital, he wore extra large swimming trunks. He now wears medium-sized trunks. Rhodes, 46, credits 2-hour water workouts thrice weekly for helping him go from weighing 225 pounds in August to 165 pounds now. His enviable progress surprised him more than anyone else. ‘Never, ever have I ever belonged to a health club. Me joining a health club? I used to think it was like putting a screen door on a submarine,’ he said. The fun factor of water workouts— in tandem with his improved fitness and sense of well-being — hooked him, he said. ‘I sort of accidentally got in shape. The more I went, the better I felt. The better I felt, the more I went,’ he said. Rhodes said he now moves like a man relieved of carrying a heavy backpack. Shedding 60 pounds allows him to dress and undress and get in and out of bed and chairs more easily, he said. That freedom means a lot to a man already challenged by a physical disability. Rhodes was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that stiffens the muscles and joints, he said. His labored gait sometimes leads to falls, and he can’t use his curled arms much to catch himself. This winter, he wiped out on the LUH cafeteria floor and got a mild concussion. ‘The water gives you more of a security feeling of not falling. If you lose your balance, you’ll just float,” he said. “But the water won’t lie to you. It will let you know when you’re doing a great workout.’”

Norwich Union Healthcare Joins Forces With Fitness First And Livingwell

“Norwich Union Healthcare has added two major health and fitness club providers to improve its NU Get Active initiative. All Norwich Union Healthcare private medical insurance and income customers can access cheaper health club membership discount, through specially negotiated rates with a national network of health and fitness clubs. The addition of the Fitness First and Livingwell health clubs doubles the amount of facilities previously available, particularly within the London area. Rebecca Freebody of Norwich Union Healthcare says, ‘We are committed to the health and wellbeing of our customers and this is the first of a number of exciting initiatives we will be launching this year, designed to help our customers lead a healthier lifestyle.’”

Fitness Fanatics Complete Exercise Challenge For Charity

“A team of fitness fanatics gathered to complete an exercise challenge to raise money for a children's charity on Saturday. Around 10 people, including staff and gym members at Fifth Dimension Health Club, used the 49 pieces of cardiovascular equipment, such as treadmills and crosstrainers, to clock up more than 630km in four hours and five minutes. Fitness trainers JJ Cook and Andy Cole organised the event to raise money for Starlight Children's Foundation, which brightens the lives of seriously and terminally ill children by granting their wishes and providing hospital entertainment to help take their minds off the pain, fear and isolation of their illness. JJ said: ‘It was tiring by the end – some people were starting to feel it. But we did it and we are very proud that we completed it.’ Andy Furley, a gym member, clocked up the longest distance of 75.15km. The team is still collecting sponsorship money but think they have raised around £2,200. If you would like to sponsor them contact JJ Cook at Fifth Dimension on 01453 769120.”

Start! Walking at Work

“If you spend your day behind a desk you know hours can sometimes pass before you get up. ‘It's so easy to get tied down, you're so busy you think you really just don't have the time,’ said Simone Stone of Ferguson Enterprises in Newport News. She and her co-workers now make time to get up and walk, ‘We kind of pull each other away and say yes you do have ten minutes.’ Simone says The company is behind them 100%. They even painted red hearts along a one mile path where they say many walkers joggers and bikers spend lunch breaks. They've added healthy choices, like water and fruit to the vending machines and posted signs to encourage (or as Simone says guilt you into ) taking the stairs. Company communications Coordinator Amanda Wroten tells Ten On Your Side, ‘there's not a huge cost assoicated with what we've done but (again) its investing in our people. Our people are our most imporant asset, so if we can take care of them we're going to take care of the company.’ Ferguson started its program three years ago. The company doesn't keep any statistics, but the American Heart Association does. ‘Its going to be a benefit to you as an employer because its going to help you with your healthcare costs down the road,’ said Tracy Ashley AHA Hampton Roads Vice President. Ashely says even little changes can make a big difference, ‘for one thing you're moving you're gettng your heart beat up and racing second its setting the tone that you're changing your lifestyle.’ Simone says its changed her whole family Her boys help count calories and go to the gym with her in the evenings. ‘I defiently fell off the exercise wagon and once we started walking it puts it back into focus. It reminds you you need to get up and do something.’ and that's the whole idea. National Start walking day this year is April 8th.”

Yoga Classes Now Offer Power Naps [Video]

“Don't you ever just wish they'd bring back nap time? In the middle of their busy day, one group of New Yorkers seem to be living that dream. A new group fitness class, PowerNap-Plus at Equinox in the Upper East Side, where about 20 minutes of free-flowing yoga and meditation is followed up by a 15- to 20-minute nap. ‘The point of the class, we're all sleep deprived, we're overstimulated, we're over-stressed,’ says instructor LaShaun Dale. ‘Many of us are overexercised in this population and it is really meant to create an environment and an appointment for you to take a first step, an initial step toward wellness.’ So often, intense exercise can actually prevent people from relaxing. But here, movement is considered meditation and Dale says she has this class structured in such a way to help practitioners slide into a more restful state. ‘It's like climbing a very steep mountain,’ says Dale. ‘We're going to walk up the hill. Then as soon as we get to the top, it's like 10 minutes, meant to just tax you, it's not complex in the brain. And then we'll bring you back down to the valley where you can rest.’ So long as the workout beforehand doesn't overtax you, health experts say the combination of yoga and a nap could be an excellent approach to recharging. ‘This is not really a new concept. It's called a siesta, and people in more civilized countries still do this. We don't really do that much in the United States,’ says Dr. Carl Bazil of the New York Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center. ‘This new practice of combining it with meditation and yoga, I actually think that's a very good thing for a couple of reasons. I teach it to my patients - if you have trouble getting to sleep at night, that's what I teach them to do, is try to wind down.’ Participant Gretchen Allabach says the class give her a chance to take a timeout from high-energy days. ‘I think it is definitely something wonderful, especially for New Yorkers. We live in such a high energy place with a lot of things going on,’ says Allabach. ‘We're all attached to our BlackBerries, even [President Barack] Obama can't drop his. I think it is something where we can all put the BlackBerry aside, take a moment for ourselves and kind of detox from the world and New York.’ So without their BlackBerries, New Yorkers can enjoy the fruits of their relaxation.”

énergie Group Acquires Eight Fitness First Clubs

“The énergie Group has finalised its acquisition of eight Fitness First Clubs and has embarked on its second franchise agreement with Qatar-based investment group Ghamin Bin Saad & Sons Holding Group (GSSG). GSSG purchased the eight clubs as part of the investment group's plans to grow its portfolio of énergie clubs both in the UK and the Middle East simultaneously. The firm plans to invest in 30 clubs in the UK. All eight clubs will undergo a rebranding, costing approximately £1m, over the next eight weeks, two of which will become women-only facilities in Northampton and Southampton. Others are located in Inverness and Dundee in Scotland, Rotherham, Milton Keynes, Swindon and Epson. The Milton Keynes site is the first facility that énergie has a 50 per cent stake in, as part of plans to make it its national training centre where it puts its franchisees through their paces. GSSG, which has net assets of more than 1.8bn Qatari riyals (£338m) and interests across the Middle East and Europe, has agreed a development pipeline that will see the two groups open a minimum of 50 clubs over the first five years of the partnership.The deal followed énergie’s acquisition in 2008 of 23 Motorcise Healthy Living Centres, as well as fitness franchise Attiva. It now has 80 clubs – mainly in the UK and Ireland, with two in Latvia – and 25 in the pipeline for 2009. In 2008, it opened one franchise site approximately every seven days, making it one of the fastest brands to expand. Last year, GSSG was granted a master franchise licence for six énergie brands across Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Libya. GSSG is already a market leader in the Qatari fitness club sector, with four large sites in operation and two under construction."

Baby Boomer Gym Membership Booming

“You've probably noticed that your health club is more crowded with the New Year's resoluters. But what you may not know is that the uptick in gym membership for the past few years has been driven by Baby Boomers. They're either at the club to maintain their perceived eternal youth, or find their way back to it after years of slacking off. A Reuters story recently cited an International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) survey showing that gym membership among the 55-plus group in the United States jumped from 1.5 million in 1987 to 9.9 million in 2007. Curves, with its 30-minute circuit training catered to women, is leading the pack in terms of membership, according to Reuters. ‘These women have the most purchasing power of any segment of the population. They don't want to sit their golden years out on the sidelines -- more than any other generation they want to stay young and fit,’ Becky Frusher, spokeswoman for Curves, said to Reuters. In a report entitled ‘Baby Boomers and Beyond,’ the IHRSA noted several ways that health clubs can meet the needs of Baby Boomers (and we're not talking a remake of Jack LaLane and Jane Fonda aerobic tapes): Customized fitness, Physical therapy, Brain aerobics, By appointment scheduling, Nutrition programs, Spa services. Marketer Tom Mann at TR Mann Consulting noted recently ‘the fitness industry will continue to represent a growth opportunity even in a down economy.’ He also cautioned about terminology when it comes to Baby Boomer fitness: ‘... the mature market reacted very negatively towards the term 'exercise' while the term 'active' tested very positively.’ So, after a drenching, sweat inducing workout, we're supposed to feel happy saying we were ‘active’? Thanks, but I'll stick with ‘exercise.’”