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The fact is, the whole thing was a bit of an experiment. Not to say that we didn’t know what we wanted to achieve – we did! Right from the beginning, we were determined to create a magazine that would help its readers design a better body and a better life. Just exactly what that magazine would look like and read like, however, was harder to say.

We knew the magazine should support the Life Time Fitness triad of education, exercise, and nutrition, and that it would have to serve a broad audience without losing its integrity or focus.

Four key content areas emerged:

1) Health, nutrition, wellness: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight; eating well; supporting and optimizing the body’s natural processes; natural beauty and body care.

2) Athletics, fitness, exercise: Building strength, muscle, flexibility, endurance; developing athletic ability, body confidence and physiological know-how.

3) Quality of life: Expanding and deepening life-wisdom; sparking insight and broadening perspectives; inspiring personal development and achievement; supporting healthy life choices.

4) Adventure destinations, travel, outdoor experiences: Celebrating our health and hard-earned bodies by getting out in exciting locations; seeing and doing extraordinary, exhilarating things.

“Huh, cool,” we thought. “But how?” There wasn’t any one magazine we wanted to model ourselves after. Nor were there any guarantees that what we felt compelled to do with the publication would actually work. A bi-monthly magazine full of meaty articles on all those topics, with departments on everything from stress-management to natural cooking? It seemed a little quirky. But we had faith that if we built it, people would come: People who saw health and fitness as important parts of a larger puzzle, people who were interested in moving themselves and their lives in a positive direction.

So we gave it our best shot, and you know what? It worked. It worked so well, it even surprised us. Oh, there have been glitches to be sure, but more often than not, the accidents have been happy ones, and the net outcomes have been encouraging. To hear weekly from readers who say we “get it,” and that we’re giving them something they can really use, is rewarding beyond words.

So yeah, we’d love to take credit for our ingenious planning and our take-charge attitude. But sometimes “taking charge” is really about letting something happen that wants to happen. And evidently, Experience Life wanted to happen. In the past year, we’ve received so much from so many: gifted writers and editors; innovative thinkers; inspiring authors and experts – and of course, our wise and enthusiastic readers, whose numbers have nearly doubled. We’ve also had the talents of our fabulous art director – Lydia Anderson – and our dedicated production team. Thanks to them, the fresh look of the magazine continues to get rave reviews. Just a few months ago, as a first-time entrant in the Minnesota Magazine and Publishing Association Awards, we took home a Gold Award for Overall Design Excellence. Woo hoo!

Of course, there are still plenty of things we’re working to improve. Lydia’s made some great design tweaks for 2003. And for future issues, we’re working on a graphic coding system that will help readers determine at a glance whether a given article is likely to be interesting to them and relevant to their personal goals.

We’re also making an important change in our Voices [Opinions/Expertise] department. In the past, we’ve featured a diverse array of experts and opinions, and a different topic with every issue. This year, we’re getting more focused on helping you overcome personal health challenges, and we’re running a series of articles by one of the country’s leading experts in integrative health: Dr. Elson Haas (you can read his article and find out more about him on page 47.) Next year, we’re planning to feature a series by a leading fitness expert. In this way, we’ll be able to delve into some important subjects we’d otherwise have to gloss over, and we can offer you full benefit of the expertise at our disposal.

There will be other changes, too – many of which sync up with the initiative that Life Time Fitness CEO Bahram Akradi describes in his letter on page 8 – but rest assured, we’ll see that the best parts of Experience Life just keep getting better.

Planned or unplanned, we hope your new year is full of adventures, insights and successes aplenty. Stay in touch and let us know how it turns out!

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