Pilar Gerasimo shares her final thoughts as editor in chief of Experience Life.
Back in 2001, I got it into my head that somebody ought to create a better breed of health and fitness magazine. One that was more concerned with whole-person vitality and resilience than with six-pack abs and celebrity fitness tips. One that would do deep, thoughtful articles on topics that really mattered and help solve the real health challenges that real people were facing.
There was apparently a reason nobody had created this magazine before. It was, according to all the publishing insiders I consulted, a terrible idea: It would never sell on the newsstand, advertisers would hate it, and readers just didn’t have the attention span for that kind of thing anymore. The most successful magazines, I was told, were taking just the opposite tack — going with more celebrity glitz, more sensational topics and quick fixes.
So when I pitched the concept for Experience Life to Life Time CEO Bahram Akradi, I knew it was a long shot. But it seemed to me that even if the world of conventional publishing wasn’t ready for my big idea, a forward-thinking company with a vested interest in transforming health might be.
Fortunately, my long shot paid off. Akradi endorsed the idea wholeheartedly. And today, 12 years, 110 issues, and millions of readers later, I think we can say, “We did it!”
The magazine has proven more successful, in more ways, than I ever imagined. We’ve earned our fiscal keep, grown our circulation, attracted great national advertisers, won all kinds of awards. We’ve even found our way onto newsstands. (You can find us at all Barnes & Noble stores, and if you don’t see us at your local Whole Foods or natural food market, please ask!)
The biggest payoff, though, has always come in the form of letters — the ones from readers who’ve written to say that they love the magazine precisely because it is different, and because it has changed their lives for the better.
What I know is that every time one life is changed, every time one person gets even a little bit healthier or happier, the lives of everybody around that person change. In some small way, the world changes. And for me, that’s what Experience Life has always been about: changing the world — one life, and one experience, at a time.
Over the past decade, my commitment to that goal has only deepened. For all the reasons detailed in my Manifesto for Thriving in a Mixed-Up World (January 2010), it’s become clear to me that, together, we’ve got to make healthy living less of an outlier exception and more of a mainstream movement.
I want to live in a world teeming with healthy, happy, empowered people. I want to live in a world where getting and staying healthy is an easy, natural, normal thing to do.
And that’s why I’ve decided to step up my own role in this effort: As this issue goes to press, I’m shifting into a new role as Executive Editor of Healthy Living at the Huffington Post. From there, I will draw on an even wider array of tools and resources and be able to reach an even bigger, broader audience. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to provide strategic direction and guidance to Experience Life, and by bringing the magazine into the rich media stream from which the Huffington Post’s Healthy Living section draws, introduce even more people to its stores of well-researched health wisdom.
I have so many people to thank, starting with Bahram Akradi, without whose unwavering support this magazine would never have seen the light of day. And then there’s our incredible edit and art teams, without whose skill, dedication and spirit Experience Life’s com-pelling pages could never take shape. And our amazing digital-initiatives team — and oh dear, there are so many more! Our business and ad teams, our freelancers, our expert sources, our 650,000 subscribers and nearly 3 million readers. Darn it, the outro music is already playing and there’s no way I’m going to get through everybody!
But I need to extend thanks to at least one more person, our talented executive editor David Schimke. Formerly editor in chief at the award-winning Utne Reader (another great new-model magazine born in Minnesota), David will now be assuming the top editorial role here at Experience Life.
Dave, thanks for making this a seamless, graceful transition for our whole team, and for our readers, and for empowering us all to take our next healthy leaps with confidence and ease. Here’s to the next 110 brilliant issues!