African-Americans' healthy lifestyles are Heart and Soul

June 24, 1993|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Staff Writer

It's a magazine whose time has come, says publisher `D Reginald Ware.

Although the idea took a while to germinate -- about four years -- the premiere issue of Heart and Soul magazine hit newsstands )) last week.

So what makes this magazine different from the numerous other health-oriented magazines that are on the market?

It's a glossy, 84-page quarterly magazine that bills itself as "the nation's first healthy lifestyle publication for African Americans."

Says Mr. Ware: "We try to delve deeply into the African-American lifestyle -- into every aspect of our daily life. African-Americans are plagued by a number of illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension that can be minimized or even prevented through exercise and a better diet.

"We do things like talk about the food that we eat. We talk about raising children in single-parent households, how breast cancer affects black women and what to do about it."

The premiere issue has a little bit on all those subjects -- including a soul food make-over designed to offer low fat and sodium versions of traditional African-American dishes.

One article chides African-American women for "being in the rear of the fitness parade. . . . We lag behind white women and white men. We even trail our brothers!" the article says.

It encourages black women to "join the parade" by starting with fitness walking and highlights a group of public housing residents in Atlanta who began an organized walking program.

The 35-year-old Mr. Ware has a bachelor's degree in marketing and a background of public relations in the health care field.

About four years ago, while living in Los Angeles and representing African-American physicians, he came up with the idea for a magazine called Feeling Good. That magazine was initially distributed in physicians and dentists' waiting rooms.

"It started out as a publicity tool for my doctors, but readers loved that publication and I saw that the potential was there to do more," he says.

Coming up with the concept was the easy part, he says, "but I needed a partner. And finding a publishing partner was hard."

After years of fine-tuning the magazine and knocking on doors, he found that partner: Rodale Press Inc., which publishes health and fitness publications, including Prevention magazine.

"We already had been thinking about doing something like this for a long time," says Richard Alleger, publisher of Rodale Special Divisions. "It was kind of always on our mind but we were busy with other things and never got around to it.

"But 30 minutes after Reggie [Ware] came in to talk to us, we started trying to think up a name for the magazine."

The first run of the magazine was for 230,000 issues.

Although launching a new magazine can be an risky endeavor, particularly in a shaky economy, Mr. Ware is convinced that Heart and Soul's time has come.

"When you feel something is right, you just have to go ahead and do it," Mr. Ware says.

"It will work."

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