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Women's fitness magazine founder hits her stride

Dawna Stone was a fan of Sports Illustrated for Women, so when it stopped publishing, she decided to start her own magazine, Her Sports + Fitness, now known as Women’s Running. It’s based in St. Petersburg.

Times file (2005)

Dawna Stone was a fan of Sports Illustrated for Women, so when it stopped publishing, she decided to start her own magazine, Her Sports + Fitness, now known as Women’s Running. It’s based in St. Petersburg.

Dawna Stone is 40, has a 15-month-old daughter and her own business, but still finds time for her morning run — most of the time, anyway. She's the founder and publisher of the newly renamed Women's Running, a magazine based in St. Petersburg that has a circulation of 90,000. The magazine used to be called Her Sports + Fitness, but so many readers focussed on running that Stone decided to change the title. Last week, the St. Petersburg Times caught up with Stone by phone. She had just called off a holiday trip and had spent a sleepless night taking care of her daughter, Kaelie, who was fighting off her first bad childhood bug. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

So did you run this morning?

I didn't sleep much last night with my daughter up, so no, I did not.

How far do you run?

Three to 5 miles a day. Less since I had my daughter.

With a 15-month-old daughter, how do you find time to run?

The first few months were difficult. In the morning, my husband takes her while I get a workout in. My husband goes to the gym at night, and I take her.

Do you hope your daughter will take up running someday?

Seeing how much emphasis we put on being healthy, I hope that will rub off on her.

You used to be the chief marketing officer for MarineMax. Then five years ago you founded Women's Sports + Fitness. What drove you to start your own business?

I was a big fan of Sports Illustrated for Women, and that magazine stopped publishing. The day I heard it was no longer publishing, I went home and locked myself in my office. My husband was knocking, saying, "What are you doing in there?" I came out and I threw a business plan down and said I'm going to start a women's fitness magazine.

That was it?

I spent six months after that researching to see if it made sense. I asked around and asked people, "What's your No. 1 piece of advice for me?"

What did you like about Sports Illustrated for Women, and what did you want to do differently?

One of the things I really liked was just being able to read about other women who are like me, who have full-time jobs and were trying to stay fit and healthy. One of the things I didn't like was that 80 percent of people were professional athletes.

You bring your dog, Valkyrie, to work?

We have a little miniature shepherd. She's a mutt. She hangs out with me, under my desk, on the couch in my office, runs around and visits other offices. Barks at the mailman. The usual dog stuff.

Does she run, too?

Yes. If you run with your dog every morning, then your dog is ready to go. It's hard to tell your dog "no."

Any advice for people who want to start a business?

I say, do a lot of research, ask a lot of questions, then just go and do it.

What about people who want to start running?

Just get started. And get started slowly. People start out with a New Year's resolution, and they start too hard and too quickly, and they quit after two weeks because they can't maintain it.

It sounds like you're good at encouraging people.

I also do motivational speaking.

Asjylyn Loder can be reached at or (813) 225-3117.

Women's fitness magazine founder hits her stride 12/28/08 [Last modified: Sunday, December 28, 2008 5:39pm]
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