Fitness Publications to Enter Women Magazine World

Two fitness publications are aiming to flex their muscles in the women’s magazine marketplace. Women’s Sports & Fitness and Female Body Building think they can push through with books that take a broader, less targeted approach to sports than many fitness books. At the same time, they will try to take advantage of the trend among women’s books like Vogue and Clamour to pay more attention to fitness.

The publishers of these two magazines plan to make their mark in a surprisingly under-populated niche: sports books for women. Despite the fact that women comprise well over 50% of the new participants in all sports, according to American Sports Data, Inc., and are responsible for a rapidly growing portion of sporting goods sales, most sport-specific books target men.

Women’s Sports & Fitness is actually a seven-year-old publication that, this past July, shed its old identity (as well as its old design format) and was reborn a “recreational sports’ book. “Previously,’ explains editor Martha Nelson, the magazine “was directed to the more hard-core, competitive collegiate athlete, the elite athlete.’ Now, she continues, the book “speaks to other enjoyable aspects of sports, like sense of achievement, stress reduction and comradery.’

The magazine, according to Nelson, competes with vertical sports publications for ad dollars but not for readership. Of its largely female audience, 80% work and close to that number hold managerial positions. The average reader makes $32,000-plus annually and is 18 to 35 years old.

With a cover price of $1.75, the book’s publisher, Douglas H. Latimer, says that a 25% increase in the book’s guaranteed rate base, to 250,000, will be effective in October. Another 20% increase will kick in as of January. Latimer adds that anticipated paid circulation is expected to grow to 400,000 by the end of 1987.

Ad rates will increase in October, too. A black-and-white page, open rate, will rise from $3,195 to $4,325 in October, jumping to $5,195 by January. The four-color rate, currently at $4,975, will go to $6,750 in the fall and up to $8,100 by January.

In a nutshell, the party line at Female Body Builder is that “muscle’ is not a dirty word, or unfeminine. The magazine, due to debut October, will certainly take a more vertical approach than WS&F. But it is still broader in scope than most vertical sports publications and is aimed at the active body builder as well as the spectator.

“There is life after the gym,’ proclaims Rochelle Larkin, editor-inchief. That’s why, though the book will often feature cover shots of muscle-bound women flexing their all, it will contain lifestyle features on clothes, nutrition and cooking, even home decorating. “I don’t want to look like the Ladies’ Home Journal,’ states Larkin, “but I want to offer readers those service features.’

Anticipating a circulation of 150,000 by the end of twelve months, ad rates run $3,340 for a full-page black & white, $5,000 for full-page four-color. The cover price will be $2.95 and, initially, the book will be a bimonthly, expanding to a monthly after three or four issues.

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