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The publisher of hard-body title Muscle & Fitness, believing it's time to acknowledge women in the weight room, plans to launch a female-friendly version in December.

Weider Publications' Muscle & Fitness Hers, to be sold on newsstands for three months beginning Dec. 28, will be geared toward "women who want more out of fitness," according to its tagline. Unlike the lifestyle approach taken by Conde Nast Publications' Self, Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's Fitness and Weider's own Shape, Muscle & Fitness Hers targets women who want to train as serious athletes.

The idea for the spinoff came from female Muscle & Fitness readers who demanded a title all their own, according to Editor in Chief Tom Deters.


Four years ago, women made up about 18% to 20% of the magazine's readership. Now the number has increased to 30% of its total audience, he said. Muscle & Fitness had a newsstand-driven circulation of 491,633 for January through June, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Muscle & Fitness Exec VP-Group Publishing Director Robert Washburn said Weider had considered a separate women's title for years, but only now did circumstances seem right for a dedicated female-directed magazine.

According to Judith Langer, principal at New York-based Langer Associates, the new title could find a viable niche because muscular women have become more mainstream.

"Women used to be very afraid of muscles and body building," she said. "But there's been a major change in attitude. Women are more interested in harder bodies."

The 1999 State of the Industry report from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association indicates a dramatic increase in strength training by women during the 1990s. In 1987, about 12.5 million women lifted weights or practiced resistance training at least once during that year; in 1997 that number jumped 68% to 21 million.

The cover price for Muscle & Fitness Hers will be $3.99; 250,000 copies will be distributed on newsstands nationwide.

Muscle & Fitness Hers will contain beauty and fashion articles specific to women readers. Like its male counterpart, it will showcase athlete models. Features will include stories on "illegal" legs, "killer" midsections and "foods to fuel you up," while retaining the trademark Muscle & Fitness concentration on weight training and diet.

"Muscle & Fitness readers have an active interest in resistance training," said Mr. Deters.

Although the magazine will emphasize muscle-building, it will take a softer approach in its look than its male counterpart.


Pink floods the cover of the launch issue, from the title and background to the dumbbells and outfit on cover model Denise Paglia, an International Federation of Body Builders competitor and former host of ESPN fitness shows such as "Fitness Beach" and "Body Shaping." Inside, different typefaces and layouts will give the magazine a more airy feel than its counterpart, Mr. Deters said.

Muscle & Fitness Hers already has about 30 pages of ad commitments for its second issue, which tentatively is scheduled for May release. The launch issue carries more than 40 pages of advertising, the majority of which come from fitness-related marketers such as Met-Rx and Otomix.

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