Two new consumer magazines add muscle to fitness market

Two new women's fitness and lifestyle consumer magazines -- Balanced Living and Women's Health -- hit the newsstands this month, with publishers hoping they can find a niche in an already crowded market and offer brands another chance to reach broader markets.
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Two new women's fitness and lifestyle consumer magazines -- Balanced Living and Women's Health -- hit the newsstands this month, with publishers hoping they can find a niche in an already crowded market and offer brands another chance to reach broader markets.

Women's Health comes from Rodale, already a purveyor of magazines such as Runner's World and Men's Health, and Balanced Living was conceived by Yoga Journal as a broader offshoot to its niche yoga publication. Both appeared Oct. 5.

Publishers of both magazines say that their publications can find a place in the market, and will cover many aspects of women's lives from career to relationships to stress to physical health. Women's Health adds sex and weight loss to its described focus, while Balanced Living includes emotional health and "yoga lifestyle."

Samir Husni, author of four books on the magazine industry and a professor of journalism at University of Mississippi, tracks magazine launches and keeps a close eye on the market. He said that there is room for the women's health sector of the industry to grow.

"Real Simple has shown magazine publishers that there is still room in the marketplace for service magazines aimed at women who want to live in today's world and not in a fantasy world," he said. "Those two magazines are doing just that. There will be more of the same, and the same basics of survival of the fittest will be the judge at the end of who survives and who does it."

Women reading healthy
As perhaps obvious by its name, Rodale's Women's Health is a spin-off of the same publisher's Men's Health, and is intended to be "a fresh, smart, informative and inspiring magazine that speaks to today's active, youthful women in a way that is passionate, authoritative and relevant to your lifestyle," according to a Rodale press release. It targets women 25 to 40 years old, will cost $4.99 at newsstands across the United States, and is starting with a distribution of 450,000.

Rodale will add Women's Health to a list of nine other titles it already produces, including other lifestyle journals such as Prevention and Organic Living.

"Rodale has done well the last three years," Bill Stump, senior director of new product development at Rodale, said in a statement. "We deserve the right to grow."

Growth is the key statement there. Stump said that Rodale has already signed big-name advertisers, including Adidas, L'Oreal, Neutrogena, Liz Claiborne and Jeep. He also reported that each of the two test issues will have 132 pages with 30 pages of ads.

Balancing your living
Balanced Living is "devoted to helping readers create happier, healthier, more balanced lives," according to a Yoga Journal press release. The magazine's target demographic is women 25 to 54, and it will also sell for $4.99 at newsstands with an initial distribution of 310,000 (the same number as Yoga Journal's original circulation circa 1975). Yoga Journal subscribers received a copy of Balanced Living for free, and the magazine is also available on newsstands.

Balanced Living focuses on yoga, as Yoga Journal does, but then goes a step further to broaden that focus to include articles about food, relaxing retreats and profiles like the story in the test issue about raw food chef Roxanne Klein.

The concept for Balanced Living was born when Yoga Journal's editors saw the results of a 2003 Harris Interactive Service Bureau survey. The survey found that stress is the leading health concern among American adults and one of the main reasons people do yoga.

Balanced Living's first release has 128 pages of editorial with about 45 pages of ads from companies like Hugger Mugger (a manufacturer of yoga products) to Gaiam to Alba (a manufacturer of organic facial products).  

What's different?
So, what sets these publications apart from, say, Real Simple or Self?

According to Stump, women's magazines don't really use humor, but Women's Health, which has an editorial staff of mostly women, is designed to have a little women-power attitude. Hence, headlines like "Guys have More Hang-ups Than a Telemarketer," or "Candid Account of a Woman who Married a Metrosexual" (for those of you who don't watch "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" or "South Park," a metrosexual is a straight man in touch with his feminine side, who indulges in the urban lifestyle).

Also, according to a Rodale press release, "Unlike other women's magazines -- which often over-emphasize looks and being thin, or what women lack rather than what you are capable of -- Women's Health educates and motivates women, showing you how to take control of your physical and emotional selves so you can realize your full potential."

Balanced Living, according to Kathryn Arnold, editorial director at Yoga Journal, will provide readers with useful information about how to improve their lives.

"Readers have told us that finding balance in all aspects of their lives is their No. 1 goal," Arnold said. "Yoga Journal's Balanced Living is for those who want sound, real-life solutions on how to live healthfully in a stressful world."  

Entering a jammed market
Women's Health and Balanced Living may be different from other women's lifestyle magazines, but the fact remains that the fitness magazine market is already full of glossy pages. Stump himself said in a Media Info Center interview that the women's fitness magazine "market is crowded."

But is it too crowded for these two new publications? Stump of Rodale said that Women's Health has a good chance of success because "health and fitness is a lifestyle."

"After this two-issue test, we will decide what to do," Stump said. "This is consistent with Rodale plans."

Jim Milliot, who specializes in the book business for Publishers Weekly, recently told the Media Info Center that the women's health market is strong. That's what the folks at Yoga Journal think too.

"Depending on how (this issue) performs at the newsstand," said Dayna Macy, communications director at Yoga Journal, "we will roll it out as a quarterly starting fall 2005."

To get a closer look yourself or for more information about these new publications, go to www.rodale.com or www.yogajournal.com.

SNEWS® View: As magazine expert Samir Husni said, it's survival of the fittest in the magazine world, and time will tell if either of Rodale or Yoga Journal's babies can take more than a first step. There have been plenty of other women's magazines -- sometimes offshoots from men's like Sports Illustrated for Women or Women Outside -- that have plenty of reader fans but get killed for one reason or another that sometimes has nothing to do with ads. Rodale's Men's Health has been very successful with a circulation of nearly 4 million and even has magazines in other countries that are called Men's Health, in English. Could Women's Health follow suit? We're not sure. The competition is a lot stiffer from the likes of Shape or Health also. Yoga Journal is the most widely-read yoga magazine in the United States, and though Balanced Living overlaps in small ways, there is plenty of room for articles like "Comfort Me with Radishes" and "Meditation for Everybody" which are not usually found in other for-women publications. Although it may not have the potential of a circulation of millions, we think it's a bit more of a niche that could develop a solid and long-term following.

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