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Naversen tackles wild adventures at magazine

Naversen tackles wild adventures at magazine

Laurel Naversen has worked undercover on a fitness trainer's story, participated in a Navy Seals-like boot camp, interviewed a host of United States Olympic hopefuls and played tennis with John McEnroe.

Not too shabby for a 24-year-old journalist less than three years out of college.

Naversen, a 1993 graduate of South Medford High, has been working for Women's Sports & Fitness magazine since March of last year as assistant editor.

In the June 2000 edition, Naversen penned a piece about becoming a fitness trainer. Much to her surprise, she was able to obtain her credentials on the Internet by passing a relatively easy test consisting of true-false and multiple choice questions.

A few days after taking the test, Naversen's credentials from the International Fitness Association arrived in the mail. She then went to eight workout gyms in New York City, two of which were ready to hand her a job.

It didn't hurt that her credentials included being licensed to teach kickboxing, a sport she knew virtually nothing about.

It was quite an eye-opener, says Naversen, who was in the Rogue Valley last weekend visiting her parents in Jacksonville. Most of the gyms wanted legitimate licenses from credible institutions (such as the American College of Sports Medicine), but a couple accepted what I had.

The message I got out of this was that people need to be aware that this sort of thing goes on. You need to know where these people are getting their training.

After graduating from Brown University in 1997 with a degree in English, Naversen worked as a business consultant in London and had a brief stint doing public relations work for Fortune magazine.

She then hooked on at Women's Sports & Fitness, a fledgling monthly whose circulation has reached about three million since making its debut two years ago.

The 130-page magazine has feature stories on all sorts of participatory sports, from extreme skiing in Chile to shark diving in the Bahamas to rowing across the Atlantic. Males, of course, need not be interviewed.

It's been a lot of fun working there, says Naversen, who lives in a studio apartment on the upper east side of Manhattan. It's a young magazine and so that has led to a lot of opportunity for someone like me.

If I were working at Glamour or Vogue I'd probably be just a cog in the wheel. But they (Women's Sports & Fitness) send me out on fun assignments.

Asked how she landed the piece on fitness trainers, Naversen said, We have brain-storming meetings and the fingers seem to point to me on these types of assignments. But that was the first undercover piece I've done.

Another intriguing story assigned to Naversen dealt with an enterprising former Navy boot camp instructor who put on camps in Central Park.

For two weeks, Naversen crawled through sand pits, ran through obstacle courses and, in one instance, had to carry a 6-foot-5, 240-pound man across a field.

It was an exercise in discipline and survival, says Naversen, who was a standout swimmer in high school and college. We ran a lot but running was the easy part. Some people did it to get in shape for marathons and others were just your glutton-for-punishment, weekend warrior types.

For whatever reason, a lot of people in the class were lawyers.

Naversen recently completed a series of stories on Olympic athletes, including soccer player Julie Foudy, swimmer Ashley Tappin, mountain biker Alison Dunlap and track sprinter Inger Miller, perhaps the main threat to upset Marian Jones in her quest to win five gold medals at the Summer Games in Australia. The articles will appear in the September/October issue of Women's Sports & Fitness.

I spent a decent amount of time with all of them, says Naversen, who interviewed Dunlap and Tappin in Colorado and Foudy and Miller in Southern California. Those people are very focused and they know what they want.

Naversen's most thrilling moment while on assignment came at a tennis clinic in Florida when she found herself across the net from McEnroe.

He was funny and real nice, she says. The night before he became cantankerous when he was playing in a real match, but at the clinic he was relaxed.

Naversen likes living and working in New York.

It's very fast-paced and very exciting, she says. There's so many young, fun people to meet. Ninety percent of the magazine publishing jobs are in New York City — that's where the major companies are.

It's impossible to know where I'll end up five or 10 years from now, but right now I'm having fun.

While attending Medford schools, Naversen says writing was one of her strengths and that working for a magazine was a natural, obvious choice, although I didn't know it at the time.

Getting her kickboxing instructor credentials was much less predictable.

Women's Sports & Fitness is also on the Internet at www.phys.com