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In its latest attempt to cater to the athletic needs of today's 74 million 1 physically active American women, Nike has opened seven NIKEgoddess stores and in-store boutiques in cities across the country, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Dallas. And while such metros are good bets for targeting an active female population that spends an estimated $17 billion a year on active wear, they are not the only places one can find an athletic goddess.

According to data from New York City-based Mediamark Research, Inc. (MRI), today's physically active women are more affluent and more educated than the average American woman. Given that these gals — who, by definition, engage in sports or fitness activities at least twice a month — are relatively well educated (most have at least a college degree and many have post-graduate degrees as well), it's not surprising that they tend to occupy professional, executive or managerial positions at work and to have household incomes above $60,000. But not all active women are 18-year-old hardbodies. In fact, the most active group of women is 25- to 34-years-old — when many wake up to the fact that their youth is slipping away.

The accompanying map, created by American Demographics, shows where such active women are most likely to be found. The map is based on a nationwide survey of 26,109 women, ages 18 and older, conducted by MRI and drawn using Easy Analytical Software, Inc.'s database. We culled 100 measures that marketers associate with active women (e.g., spent $100 or more on athletic/workout apparel in the last year, drank six or more energy drinks in the last 30 days, kickboxed at least two to three times a month) and mapped out the counties where these women are likely to live. Counties in dark orange are very likely to be home to active females, while counties in pale yellow are not likely to be.

The nation's physically active females are most likely to be found in urban and suburban areas. Especially striking are a chain of coastal counties in California stretching from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay Area; bedroom communities from central Virginia's horse country on up to the wetlands and wilderness of Maine that are hunting, camping and canoeing destinations; and a cluster of counties in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Given that active women tend to be relatively affluent, it's not surprising that they tend to move to places that attract the well-off because of their proximity to scenic mountains or bodies of water.

1 Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, 2002

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