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Posted by r2d2 04/12/2009 @ 06:07

Tags : fitness, health

News headlines
Food and Fitness on Metrorail - Washington Post
As a Metrorail commuter, I choked on the May 8 Metro article "Food Kiosks at Stations? Metro Just Might Bite." If Metro managers think riders won't eat and drink more in the system with food kiosks in stations, they've got it wrong....
Alison Sweeney Takes Her Role as Fitness Host Even Farther - Seattle Post Intelligencer
By ROBYN ROSS Alison Sweeney may already be known as the devious Sami on Days of Our Lives, but these days she's taking her other job as host of nbc's The Biggest Loser one step further by challenging herself to new fitness goals with EA SPORTS Active...
Majesco, Jillian Michaels Issue New Fitness Ultimatums To Wii Owners -
New to the 2010 ultimatum is are new workout modes, including the six-month long "Fitness Resolution" feature and "Exercise with Jillian," giving you one-on-one time with the titular trainer. Majesco also promises improved motion tracking,...
New Made-in-America triactive Fitness E-Line Outdoor Exercise ... - PR Web (press release)
San Luis Obispo, CA (PRWEB) May 13, 2009 -- The new Made in the USA eco-Friendly TriActive Fitness E-Line is now available from triactive America, the leading outdoor exercise equipment company. Made of recycled steel and e-coated for extended...
Ferguson waits on Ferdinand's fitness -
Sir Alex Ferguson will check on the fitness of Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans before finalising his Manchester United team to face Wigan at the JJB Stadium tomorrow. Ferdinand tweaked a calf in training on Saturday that ruled him out of United's win...
SAN MARCOS: New fitness center for seniors bridges 'generation gap' - North County Times - Californian
Palomar College fitness instructor Carol Hydrusko, wearing a dark top, leads an exercise class in the new fitness studio at the San Marcos Senior Center on Monday. Heavy demand for exercise classes, computer sessions and other programs at the San...
Bellyfit: A Revolutionary Fitness for Women - The Epoch Times
Bellyfit, the latest buzz in the fitness world, can achieve all this through a fusion of ancient and modern movements and techniques. But Bellyfit doesn't just deal with the physical—it is a holistic regimen that also has a spiritual component....
Focus on fitness: Y's Camp Sokkia to offer tons of healthy fun for ... - Herald & Review
The youth and family director recently promoted the camp, set to begin May 26, which will have a special focus on fitness this year. Each day, camp will officially start at 8:30 am with a mile run or walk with counselors through surrounding...
Former Biggest Loser contestants now the faces of nationwide ... - Greenville News
The former real estate agents have since launched their own fitness campaign, made guest appearances on the 700 Club and the Today Show and finished writing a book called “Dream Again.” “It's been a whirlwind,” Amy Parham said....
Town rejects donation for fitness center - The Enquirer Journal
By Billy Ball WEDDINGTON - Town officials squashed immediate plans to donate $145000 to a school fitness center Monday, but the Town Council will likely roll the funds into its 2009-2010 budget. The four-member council was split on a motion to...


Fitness may mean: The state of being physically active on a regular basis to maintain good physical condition.

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Fitness First

Fitness First is one of the largest health and fitness providers in the world, second in number of clubs only to Gold's Gym and third in memberships only to 24 hour fitness and Gold's Gym, with clubs in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.

In 2005 the company was acquired by BC Partners, a European private equity group.

In Australia, Fitness First took over a number of Living Well Lady locations owned by the Hilton Group. Also they bought the 11-gym Healthland chain from an administrator, and now own over 80 gyms across Australia.

In late 2006, Fitness First reached the milestone of 500 clubs world-wide, marked by the opening of the fourth club in Sydney, Australia.

It now has over 550 clubs worldwide with more than 1.5 million First Fitness members.

Fitness First (Australia) offers a number of membership plans on different terms. Some membership contracts have a minimum term of one year and incur a cancellation fee on exit. Others are billed on a fortnightly basis and can be cancelled with 4 week notice. On the "home" plan, members can access one Fitness First location. Other plans allow members access to any standard Fitness First gym within Australia. Limitations apply on access to international Fitness First gyms. Fees range from around $70 to $110 per month.

Fitness First is renown for high-pressure aggressive sales pitches (harassing pedestrians & subjecting prospective members to incessant follow-up phone calls). Other common complaints relate to overcharging and creating legally binding contracts that are hard to break or receive a refund.. Cases also exist where direct debit accounts are still debited after the member has cancelled their membership.

In August 2008, Fitness First took an ill patient to the Australian New South Wales (NSW) Supreme Court to recover a $200 cancellation fee although she could not afford to pay and was no longer able to use the gym on medical grounds. The patient explained her medical condition before signing up and was instructed to sign the contract. Fitness First sought action to ensure that gym contracts with clients were still legally valid even if the court were to find that the client did not understand what he or she had signed. Fitness First's victory on appeal overturned a prior decision against the company by the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, which had found that a contract required a "meeting of the minds, in that they each fully know and understand the terms and conditions of the agreement". The Supreme Court found that the Tribunal had erred in a matter of law.

The company also hit most members in Australia with significant fee increases in August 2008, in the range of 20% - 30% increase, depending on membership type. The reasons provided for the increases were the number of new clubs opened and "increased general costs".

In March 2009, a Fitness First trainer allegedy attacked a member after a dispute about closing times, pushing him down a flight of stairs. The member spent the night in hospital with a broken nose and seven stitches to the forehead from a deep gash. Police are investigating.

In a study comparing Fitness First with other gyms, Fitness First respondents were less likely to have been shown how to use equipment by a qualified staff member, offered a fitness assessment or advised on an appropriate exercise routine.

Fitness First does not include instruction on the use of equipment by qualified trainers for new members, although in most clubs, trainers with 'May I help you' T-shirts may be on hand to answer general queries. To obtain this service members are expected to purchase a Personal Training Triple Pack, an added cost on top of membership fees. The "PT Triple Pack" is a method of on selling continuing personal training, and program cards are never provided. A 2008 study proved it is clearly the greediest gym globally.

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Bally Total Fitness

Bally Total Fitness is an American fitness club chain with four hundred gyms in seventy cities, and claims four million customers. At its peak, prior to filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2007, Bally operated nearly 440 facilities located in 29 states, Mexico, Canada, Korea, China and the Caribbean under the Bally Total Fitness, Crunch Fitness, Gorilla Sports, Pinnacle Fitness, Bally Sports Clubs, and Sports Clubs of Canada brands. In response to an increasingly competitive market invaded by niche clubs catering to specific market demographics, Bally has diversified into franchising, with over thirty Bally facilities now operating as franchises. The company's headquarters are located in Chicago, Illinois.

The company traces it roots to 1931 Lion Manufacturing which was later named Bally Manufacturing (named for its successful pinball product called the Ballyhoo. Its success at building slot machines led the company to open casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

In 1983 it purchased Health and Tennis Corporation of America in 1983 and Lifecycle exercise bike manufacturer. In 1987 was the world's largest owner and operator of fitness centers. It further expanded with the purchase of the American Fitness Centers Nautilus Fitness Centers. Included in the acquired clubs were ones connected to Vic Tanny and Jack LaLanne. The various brands were consolidated under the Bally Total Fitness brand in 1995.

In 1996 it was spun from its casino owning parent. In May 1998 it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange trading under the ticker symbol of BFT.

Bally filed for bankruptcy in August 2007, with outstanding debts of $761 million. Over the preceding ten years, its stock price had fallen from a high of approximately US$37.00 to less than $0.37 on the Pink Sheets, a plunge of over 99% of its value. It was delisted from the NYSE.

On October 1, 2007, Bally announced its emergence from bankruptcy court protection, 100% owned by a hedge fund, Harbinger Capital.

On December 3, 2008, Bally again filed for bankruptcy due to problems arising from a global credit crisis. The company indicated that it would explore options including reorganization or possibly even a sale, but that it hoped to emerge from bankruptcy as soon as possible.

Bally Total Fitness has been the subject of controversy over their sales and membership cancellation practices, with some customers claiming they were misled into signing long term membership contracts that can last for three years, and subsequently found themselves dealing with collection agencies. The fitness chain has had problems for years. In order for a Bally member to cancel their memberships, a member must move over 25 miles away from the Bally Total Fitness gym that they joined, or must obtain a doctors note indicating that they are unable to work out for over six months due to any injuries. If a member chooses the membership where they can work out at any Bally gym, the member cannot have their membership canceled even if there is no Bally gym near the members new residence. Even with these cancellation policies listed in the membership contracts, members still find it impossible to cancel their memberships. Members have also alleged that once their membership has expired, the corporate fitness chain will renew the membership and deduct money from their bank or credit card accounts without the members consent. Complaints have also arise regarding the 30 day free trial period that some Bally Total Fitness clubs offer. Members have alleged that when choosing the 30 day trial period, they must provide their bank or credit card account number to a Bally sales representative and in order for them to satisfy the trial period, the guests must attend the gym for 12 out of the 30 days in order for their trial period not to turn into a membership if the guest decides not to become a member. Even when satisfying the 12 day requirement, members allege that their trial period turns into a membership contract where the corporate fitness giant is deducting membership dues from their bank or credit card accounts without the members permission.

In April 1994, Bally paid $120,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges of illegal billing, cancellation, refund, and debt-collection practices. But consumers complain that little has changed over the years. From 1999 to 2004, over six hundred customers complained to the New York Attorney General's office, leading to an investigation and subsequent agreement by Bally Total Fitness to reform their sales tactics in February 2004.

Paul Toback, a former White House aide in the Clinton administration who joined Bally as a corporate development officer in 1997, was named Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in late 2002, after predecessor Lee Hillman resigned.

Bally has been the subject of at least one federal investigation, in addition to the aforementioned probe into consumer complaints against Bally, conducted by the New York State Attorney General, regarding the firm's sales practices. In April 2004, Bally disclosed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was investigating its accounting practices. The company eventually restated its financial statements for 1997 through 2003.

The SEC has yet to complete its investigation, but an internal Bally probe blamed the company's "culture of aggressive accounting" on Mr. Hillman and former Chief Financial Officer John Dwyer; both men have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

On February 28, 2008, the SEC formally filed financial fraud charges against Bally Total Fitness. Among the charges, the SEC alleges that in 2001, Bally overstated its originally reported stockholder's equity by roughly $1.8 billion (over 340%), and understated its 2003 net loss by $90.8 million, (or 845%).

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California Fitness

California Fitness (aka Cal Fit) is a wholly owned subsidiary of 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide which has over 400 clubs serving more than 3 million members. The first California Fitness club was established in 1996 in the business district of Hong Kong. Currently, there are 25 clubs:.

The mission of the company is to help members live better through California Fitness. The company offers members the opportunity to experience the most innovative and largest number of Group exercise classes in the region as well as providing highly professional Personal Training from the largest group of Personal Trainers in the region. In addition to the state-of-the-art cardio & resistance equipment, members can enjoy sauna & steam facilities, plus free internet via the in-club kiosks. California also has clubs with a swimming pool in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia providing all club members access.

Beginning in 2005, California Fitness further differentiated its business by partnering with two fitness superstars, Jackie Chan and Yao Ming, to create signature clubs in the region. There are a total of 6 California Fitness-Jackie Chan Sport in Asia and 2 California Fitness-Yao Ming Sport in mainland China.

Varieties of membership are available, including one-club membership to Zenith membership that allows cardholders to gain access of all 24 Hour Fitness and California Fitness clubs.

California Fitness launched Hong Kong’s first human powered exercise machines used to power a gym building, Powered by YOU experiment in 2007.

Even though the club is popular largely from its publicity stunts and marketing campaigns, there have been several reports regarding the members being charged fees beyond their membership periods or after request of cancellations. A largely affected group of Members are from Singapore where the law is quite strict and binding. The business model of this fitness club chain is hugely criticized by the public mainly because they end up paying more than what is ever told by the sales executives.

Similar incidents has been alleged against their parent (24 Hour Fitness) and there are two existing cases against them in the courts of California, United States. One of the cases has been recently settled ruled in favour of the public who had fought for re-imbursement of the additional fees taken by the club by means of unfair business practices. In the settled case the plaintiff had alleged that 'The third cause of action alleges that 24 Hour Fitness’ practices and contract are unfair and unlawful in violation of California Business and Professions Code section 17200, as 24 Hour Fitness allegedly collects dues beyond the term of the membership contract in violation of the Health Studio Services Act (“HSSA”), fails to comply with statutory formatting and disclosure requirements of the HSSA, and sells monthly membership agreements using false and misleading representations and advertisements prohibited by Civil Code section 1812.92 and Business and Professions Code section 17500 et seq. Based on prior rulings by the Court, the “unlawful” portion of this claim only applies to Class Members who entered into their contracts after January 1, 2002.' The was upheld by the court in the verdict. .

The other case is in San Francisco Superior Court (Case No. CGC-05-446492).

Despite company changes, California WOW Xperience is still frequently confused with California Fitness.

California Wow Xperience (California Wow X) are related but totally separate companies which were spun off of California Fitness in early 2000s, with the California Fitness founder Eric Lavine as the CEO. Korean branches were spun off as local franchises, whereas the Thai branches are run as joint ventures with Major Cineplex as a major institutional shareholder. The company is actively traded on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, ticker CAWO, in contrast to the privately held branches of 24 hour fitness and its fully owned subsidiary California Fitness. Today, with Korean branches out of business, California Wow is headquartered and run entirely from Thailand, not the US. Its Vietnam unit is run as franchises similar to Korea, and Thai membership does not extend to Vietnam or vice versa.

There was a grand opening for the Vietnam branch in January 2008 in Saigon, but no website. Vietnam gyms are run as franchises as and members are not given free access to Thai gyms or vice versa.

Calif Wow X Thailand, PCL operates 12 branches: 10 in Bangkok, Thailand of which 1 is female only, 1 in Pattaya, 1 in Chiang Mai.

2 franchised branches in Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, District 5 and as of October 25 2008, in District 1, operated by locals.

Formerly: Seoul(3), Daegu(1), Korea.

In August 2008, cross membership agreements between California WOW Xperience and affiliate companies (Cal Fit and 24 Hour) were terminated. This completes the split into completely separate gym companies. California Fitness and 24 Hour still maintain their cross agreements.

Locally franchised branch of California Wow went bankrupt in Korea in April 2008.

According to the Korean news media, the Korean employees had not been paid for the previous three months salary. Members of the gym are banding together to sue the company for membership fees. Approximately 40,000 people were members of the club.

Member have not received any compensation for their memberships, nor does it seem as though they will. The club sold memberships right up until the day they closed.

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Source : Wikipedia