Women’s Health Launches ‘Next Fitness Star’ Competition

Magazine hopes to expand into TV series

From The Next Food Network Star to the Next Action Star, we've seen a bevy of reality competitions attempt to find the latest, greatest fill-in-the-blank. Now, Rodale's Women’s Health is getting in on the trend with its own talent search: The Next Fitness Star.

The contest kicked in the magazine’s January/February issue with a nationwide casting call for a fitness-savvy individual to star in the magazine's upcoming workout DVD series. By March, five finalists will be chosen by the judges, including Extra TV host Maria Menounos, celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak and Women’s Health editor in chief Michele Promaulayko. They’ll then be flown to New York to produce short video submissions (and possibly make the rounds on morning TV) for the magazine’s website before jetting off again to lead fitness classes across the country for a hands-on experience. The finalists will be featured on a flip cover in the July issue and the winner announced the following month.

Apart from getting paid to star in the DVD series (which is scheduled for release in November or December), the winner will get a spot on the cover of next year’s January/February issue and their workout added to the class lineup at a major health club. (Women’s Health is close to inking a deal with a nationwide chain, said a rep.) Publisher Laura Frerer-Schmidt is also in talks with potential advertisers for the program; in addition to signing a lead sponsor, she said, Women's Health is planning to work brand integration into every aspect of the competition, from the contestants’ hair and makeup to their workout apparel.

If the franchise proves successful, the hope is that it could expand to the small screen. Rodale’s workout DVDs, which Women’s Health and Men’s Health take turns producing each year, are already a major source of revenue, Frerer-Schmidt said.

The competition is open to both professional and non-professional fitness buffs. “Some of the most famous trainers out there weren’t professionals in this field before they started, but they had these sizzling personalities and amazing personal stories,” said Frerer-Schmidt. The bankability of a star trainer can go far beyond DVDs, she added. “Jillian Michaels sells more magazines than many celebrities—and this was even before she had a show!—because people think she can change their life. We’re looking for that magic.”