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Governor to Be Executive Editor of 2 Fitness Magazines

The publications will use Schwarzenegger's name, and he will receive $250,000 a year for his Council on Physical Fitness. Aide sees a 'nominal' time commitment.

March 06, 2004|Joe Mathews | Times Staff Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will announce today at his fitness convention here that he has agreed to become executive editor of two fitness magazines.

The magazines, Muscle & Fitness and Flex, were owned by publisher and bodybuilding promoter Joe Weider for years until he sold them to American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer. Weider brought Schwarzenegger to the United States in 1968.

The governor, a seven-time Mr. Olympia, was to appear at a banquet Friday night honoring Weider.

"It's a visionary job. It's a labor of love," said Margita Thompson, the governor's press secretary. "His focus is going to be the governorship of California."

The deal is envisioned as something of a swap between the governor and the magazines. Muscle & Fitness and Flex get to use Schwarzenegger's name in selling the magazines. In return, the governor receives $250,000 a year for five years for the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness. That council will be formally "relaunched" in the spring, Thompson said. "He has a lifelong commitment to the fitness community," she said.

Rob Stutzman, communications director for the governor, said in a conference call Friday that the editing job would take up "only a nominal amount of time."

"The governor has ended his movie career for the time being to be governor, and that's what he's fully engaged on," Stutzman said. "This is a relationship and an endeavor that will not have a tremendous demand on his time, but will allow him to have creative and visionary input into the future of the magazine."

The governor has written a column in Muscle & Fitness for years, generally focusing on exercise tips; the March column includes exercises for the lower back.

Schwarzenegger first appeared on the cover of Muscle & Fitness in July 1968. He has been on the cover 30 times; he has appeared on Flex's cover 19 times. Muscle & Fitness usually shows a bodybuilder on the cover of its magazine.

The cover of the March issue of Flex magazine features a young woman wearing a thong bikini. Promoted on the cover are a 22-page swimsuit special "featuring the sport's sexiest women" and workouts for building "cannonball delts" and "freaky quads."

Asked if editing the magazine was an appropriate role for California's governor, Stutzman said: "Sure. These magazines promote physical fitness, which California could use a little more encouragement on. It's good for the health of the citizens of the state."

The governor has placed his business interests, including his stake in the Arnold Fitness Weekend, in a blind trust managed by his longtime investment advisor, Paul Wachter. But a handful of critics have pointed out that it is impossible for a person whose fortune is based largely on public performance not to know the sources of his money.

Doug Heller of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which runs the website arnoldwatch.org, suggested this week that interests that sponsor the Arnold Fitness Weekend -- from Hummer to the magazine and nutritional supplement interests connected with Weider -- could provide undue influence. "The governor has a blind trust -- with 20-20 vision," Heller said.

Schwarzenegger is in Columbus for Arnold Fitness Weekend, a three-day weekend that features a bodybuilding tournament called the Arnold Classic. Schwarzenegger has put on bodybuilding events here since 1976, and co-owns the Arnold Fitness Weekend, which began in 1989.

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Times staff writer Peter Nicholas contributed to this report.

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