Date: 27th August 2021
By Sarah Moore
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the health and fitness industry was shut down almost completely. With most of their clients and advertisers closed, IMPACT Magazine halted production temporarily “almost by default,” says publisher and editor-in-chief, Elaine Kupser.
Trying to survive the absence of advertising revenue and the closure of IMPACT’s usual distribution points, times were tough, and Kupser says they “almost considered not continuing to publish the magazine for a minute.” But instead, Kupser shifted to community service mode, prioritizing supporting her health and fitness industry in whatever way she could through IMPACT.
In spring of 2020, IMPACT hosted several virtual town halls, with hundreds of people attending from across Canada, to discuss the newfound challenges the fitness and race industry was facing and to brainstorm solutions.
The bi-monthly health, fitness and sports performance magazine also started offering free online fitness classes once a week, led by some of the best instructors and trainers in Canada. The popular series, called Sweat Across Canada, is available on IMPACT’s IGTV and YouTube Channel and still runs weekly to this day. Yoga, Pilates, weight training, core training, and Ballet Barre are amongst the series’ accessible offerings.
“It gives exposure to our industry people, who really need it right now,” says Kupser, “and it also helps the community stay healthy and fit for free.”
IMPACT temporarily shifted its editorial content online as well, releasing two digital issues last summer. The effort was a success, and the two issues were recognized with Gold and Silver awards at the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.
The first digital issue released was a special edition: The Best of Food & Nutrition. The second, their August 2020 issue, donated almost $100,000 worth of free advertising to businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 as a way to support to the fitness industry and others, even as the magazine was suffering their own financial struggles due to the pandemic.
“It was kind of our gift back to our community that has supported us for almost 30 years,” says Kupser. “There was a possibility that this might have been my last issue and I really wanted it to be meaningful.”
Luckily, it wasn’t her last issue. Thanks to the wage subsidy program and grants, the magazine was back to publishing in print in November 2020, including their 2021 Inspiration Issue featuring Canada’s Top Fitness Instructors. However, the timelines have shifted slightly with the annual Running Issue coming out in May rather than the usual March release.
Kupser says the delay gives the team at IMPACT the time they need to put together a phenomenal issue. It also gives the race industry some breathing room as they wait to hear about restrictions and decide if running events will be held virtually or in-person.
Since 1991, the goal of IMPACT has been to give Canadians relevant, research-based content and to inspire them to live healthier lives. Part of that mission means supporting the entire community, not just its readership.
“We’re like minded: our advertisers are people who are also trying to help people live their healthiest lives,” says Kupser. “So we’re trying to keep it going, on all levels, to make sure we’re supporting everybody the best way that we can.”
What was the first magazine you fell in love with?
Chatelaine. My mom always had a subscription to that magazine when I was growing up. I just found it so beautiful as a young girl, flipping through her magazines looking at the fashion and food.
What is your favourite thing about working in magazines?
I get to meet so many incredible people, people I never would have met otherwise.
How would you describe Alberta’s magazine industry, in a couple of words?
I don’t think it’s recognized enough. Most of the magazines in Alberta are free publications. They are professionally produced, the content is second-to-none, and they would, in my opinion, compete against any national magazine brand. We have so many credible, beautiful magazines that could use more attention nationally and even locally.
Who is someone whose work you especially admire?
From a credibility point of view I always love to look at The New York Times, because I’m just so inspired by their content, it’s just so consistently good all of the time. For other inspiration with the fitness and sports industry, I love Outside Magazine. As a sports magazine, it has fantastic content and the graphics, design and imagery are presented so beautifully. And for sheer pleasure, I can’t help myself from purchasing home and design magazines. I will forever be a fan of print.
What are you looking forward to in the next year?
Definitely our 30th anniversary edition and celebration this upcoming fall of 2021. It’s quite unbelievable to think that this milestone is approaching. We are going to take this opportunity to not just celebrate our accomplishments, but the accomplishments of others.
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