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Author: Art Carey
Jami Lynn Appenzeller drives a hefty Ford F-250 pickup that speaks with a throaty rumble.
For recreation, she rides quads with her two boys, and she adores jeeps. “They’re fun to romp in,” she says.
Even though this former Miss Miller Lite has had two children, she has a 22-inch waist and an abdomen as flat and hard as a pancake griddle.
She lifts weights three times a week and isn’t afraid of that corner of the gym where big men pump heavy iron. “I love the realness,” she says.
She’s also a publishing magnate. The second issue of her new magazine, PhillyFIT, is hot off the press, and it’s a winner – clean design, high-quality paper, informative articles by true gurus and certified experts.
“I’m trying to create a sense of community among fitness enthusiasts in the area,” says Appenzeller, 38, who lives in Southampton, Bucks County. “In each issue, I want you to see someone you know, to learn something helpful and new.”
The first two issues have featured articles about ab training, stability-ball workouts, decompression therapy, emotional eating, aquatic exercise, weightlifting for women (10 reasons why they should), the importance of girls’ soccer, and turkey as fitness food, as well as an interview with three Eagles cheerleaders.
PhillyFIT is a bimonthly supported by advertising. About 45,000 copies are distributed free at 1,600 locations – gyms, health clubs, health-food and sporting-goods stores, etc. – throughout Philadelphia and its four suburban counties.
For Appenzeller, this is Round 2. In 1995, bankrolled by a company that published shoppers, she launched Philly Health & Fitness, the region’s first periodical catering to the cut and buff. She helmed it for eight years, earning the allegiance of readers and patrons.
Two years ago, when the owners sold it, Appenzeller bailed out. Two issues later, without Appenzeller’s energy and special touch with advertisers, the magazine folded. Legions of fitness fans were dismayed.
To support herself, Appenzeller did sales and marketing for the National Personal Training Institute. She drove herself hard and helped the business flourish. But the travel and stress took their toll. Last spring, exhausted, she quit. Searching for a new channel for her ambition, she returned to her first love, her “middle child.” She decided to re-create a regional fitness magazine.
She’s a splendid advertisement for her new venture. Not only does she look the part, she lives the active life she celebrates. Her surname is Swiss-German; her pedigree, multinational mutt – Swiss, German, American Indian, Hawaiian, Polish, Irish.
She was born in Arizona. By age 3, she was swimming and diving. She attended kindergarten in Hawaii in bare feet. For six years, she lived in England, where she adopted an abused pony and became a champion rider.
Naturally lean and muscular, she began working out on Nautilus machines at age 15. At Central Bucks West, she was so consumed by riding she didn’t play sports. Nevertheless, she regularly earned the top Presidential Fitness Award.
She married young. Four months after giving birth to her first child, at age 22, she competed in the Miss Natural Pennsylvania bodybuilding contest. She took second place.
The marriage foundered. In her mid-20s, Appenzeller struggled to survive as a single mom. Her boss at the nightclub where she worked as a cocktail waitress entered her in the regional Miss Miller Lite contest.
When she won the title, she was scared. She was shy, uncomfortable being the center of attention, putting herself on display. But she took the job seriously. She was determined to be more than eye candy. She studied the Miller line of products, discovered she had a gift for persuasion and salesmanship.
“It made me stop being afraid of using the power of me.”
There were days when she’d work till 2 or 3 a.m. as Miss Miller Lite, go home and change, open a diner at 4 a.m. and then work as a waitress till 9 a.m. so she’d have the day free to care for her son, Derek. For a spell, to boost her income, she rented the bedrooms in her townhouse. She and Derek slept in the dining room.
Through the tough times, she never wavered in her devotion to fitness. Daily exercise kept her healthy and sane, a sanctuary from stress.
Launching a new publication has been a challenge. Appenzeller hasn’t been able to visit the gym as much as she’d like. She apologized to me for having temporarily lost her six-pack. (Any teen would die for such a taut middle.)
She recently resumed working out at LA Fitness in Bensalem with Derek, now 16. Last summer, despite asthma, she began running. Her younger son, Darion, 7, accompanies her on his bike.
She expresses her philosophy of fitness in one word: moderation. “Just as the family that plays together stays together, if your fitness regimen is fun you’ll stick with it,” Appenzeller says.
She hopes PhillyFIT will help people find their niche.
“There are thousands of options,” says Appenzeller, who intends to spotlight them all. “Please try something, anything!”
Copyright (c) 2004 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Record Number: 7005460945