Media: New fitness title for females

If there is one person who is not already sick of the mantra 'New Year, new start,' it is the editor of a women's health and fitness magazine.

As January comes around, females read Women's Fitness, Zest and other magazines dedicated to health, exercise, weight-loss and dieting.

'We've seen the health and fitness media maintain a steady performance over the past few months, with more titles joining the market,' says Lizzie Webster, senior media officer at Age Concern and Help the Aged.

However, she adds: 'It is crucial magazines understand that keeping fit can be expensive. Any magazine that does this has the potential to develop a loyal readership.'

Enter new launch Women's Running, a title for female runners of all ages and abilities.

'In the current climate, women are not going to take out gym memberships that they will be cancelling after two or three months,' editor-in-chief Christina Neal says. 'They are looking for ways to become healthier that are convenient, affordable and accessible, like running.'

Neal is confident the title, launched on 29 December, will survive despite the tough times the media industry is experiencing: 'It seems crazy there are only two magazines in the running market, and neither really cover women.

I know, from working on titles such as Women's Fitness, that if you increase coverage of running, sales go up.'

Julia Nolan, head of marketing at sports bra brand Shock Absorber, agrees: 'Our recent survey has revealed the number of women running is increasing, yet there hasn't been a publication that caters exclusively for this market.'

Neal could be on to something, particularly given the popularity of charity events such as Race For Life, which have encouraged more and more women to start running.

But Simon Hackett, deputy MD of health and lifestyle agency Pegasus PR, warns: 'This is a very specialised and focused magazine, so it will have to give its audience something new.'

The magazine covers a wider range of topics linked to running, including nutrition, lifestyle, health, weight-loss, motivation, toning workouts, beauty and fashion. 'We look a lot at the psychology behind running and how women can build their confidence and feel good about themselves,' adds Neal.

Hackett adds: 'Magazines that extend into these wider lifestyle issues are those that will ride the current trend most successfully.'

Feedback from the first issue has been overwhelmingly positive, says Neal. 'We've had a lot of women saying they didn't feel they could run, but the magazine has encouraged them.'

And Webster points out: 'Leading health and fitness titles sometimes target elite athletes. A magazine targeting a diverse range of ages and fitness levels could be welcome.'

QUICK FACTS

Circulation: No figures yet. Initial print run of 60,000

Number of women who ran Race for Life in 2009: 730,000

Magazines Neal edited before Women's Running: Women's Fitness, Good Health

Contact: christina.neal@wildbunchmedia.co.uk

A MINUTE WITH ... CHRISTINA NEAL, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, WOMEN'S RUNNING

- Where did the idea for the magazine come from?

There are only two running magazines out there, and if you look at the cycling market or triathlon sector, there are four or five titles for each. It seemed strange there were not more than two running titles considering the numbers of women who have started running.

- Describe the reaction so far

We have had a fantastic response and we already have subscribers. We were talking with PR professionals in the months leading up to the launch and not one has said they do not see a market for it.

- What is the best way for PR professionals to work with the title?

For the first approach, I prefer an email.

That gives me the chance to look at the idea they are pitching. I'm really open to ideas and they do not have to be specific to running. For example, we have a general health section, as well as nutrition and recipe columns.

- How do you hope the magazine will be seen on the newsstand - as a specialist title or a women's glossy?

As a glossy title for women who want to improve their health and fitness through running.

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