Health & fitness magazines

Hands up who doesn’t want to be fit and healthy? Yes, thought so. But plenty of help is at hand as Alan Geere finds down at the newsstand.

By Alan Geere

Health & fitness magazines

Fit & Well

What’s it about: ‘Healthy starts here...’ – tagline with masthead.

Vital statistics: 31 May-12 July 2018 issue: 76 pages of 293mm x 208mm. Gloss paper, heavier cover, stitched. £2.50 cover price. Publishers claim a circulation of 28,000. Published monthly by TI Media in London.

Cover: Big pic of Michelle Heaton (yes, her, one fifth of poptastic girl band Liberty X) promoting her story of ‘Fitness saved me’. Six other coverlines, two other pictures – the obligatory salad and optional ice cream.

Content: A page of contents divided into Live Well, Eat Well, The bodyshop! and #trending plus a modest welcome from the editor at just 46 words. Good use of graphics throughout plus short and snappy reads like ‘6 things giving you bad breath this summer’. Plenty to keep everybody on the straight and narrow, despite the shock horror revelation that Davina McCall, 50, has two crumpets with butter and honey for breakfast. “A little high on the carbs for me”, reports the in-house nutritionist.

Digital: No website that the Spotlight team could find, but 3,300 Twitter followers (just 11 tweets this year up to mid-July) and 10,714 likes on Facebook.

What they say: “Current verdict on Tunisia vs England. Not sure I can cope with that font all tournament...” – editor Charlotte Richards offering typographical advice on Twitter during the World Cup.

Verdict: It’s no surprise to learn that “Fit & Well is the new diet and fitness magazine from the makers of Woman's Own”. It has that slightly breathless tone of a women's mag that is trying to tick all the boxes for all the potential readers. But good fun, affordable and neatly put together, so it’s a ‘yes’ from me.


What’s it about: ‘The UK’s No 1 wellbeing magazine’ – tagline nestling among the ascenders of the masthead.

Vital statistics: August 2018 issue: 156 pages of 273mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £3.40 cover price. ABC total of 86,224 all from print. Published eight times a year by River Publishing in London for Holland & Barrett.

Cover: Big pic of a swimsuited model, who is presumably enjoying ‘The joys of mindful travel’. Six other coverlines, one little picture of a vegan BBQ and an invitation to ‘save 20%’ at a well-known health store.

Content: Straight in to Contents on Page 3, promising Healthy Start, Healthy Balance, Healthy Glow and Healthy Clinic plus over the page, Healthy Food and Healthy Active – I think we’re getting the ‘Healthy’ message. ‘Your Say’ is neatly upfront but a bit measly with just four letters, two tweets and one Instagram post. A wide range of thoughtful features – choose from happiness, holiday hair and adult ADHD – although the cover story on mindful travel is rather a victory for style over substance. Last Word is a neat bookend of 'My Core Four' - this one from an England netballer.

Digital: Quite a spare website – at least, a lot less busy than the mag – offers a chance to sign up for a newsletter and links to Facebook, with 10,913 likes and 13,300 Twitter followers.

What they say: “Like our new website?” – readers poll on website. Vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and you a get a very polite ‘thank you’.

Verdict: A chunky offering at 156 pages and the publishers have done well to limit the ‘sponsors messages’ to mainly nice-looking ads. Plenty to read and look at although the website feels like it has come from a land far, far away.

Men's Fitness

What’s it about: ‘Fit for life’ – tagline incorporated in masthead.

Vital statistics: August 2018 issue: 116 pages of 295mm x 210mm. Matt paper, heavier cover, perfect bound. £4.20 cover price. Combined ABC of 21,183, with 1,070 from digital. Published monthly by Dennis in London.

Cover: Big pic of Kem Cetinay from Love Island showing off his top half. An amazing 12 coverlines so artfully crafted it doesn’t feel cramped. Five! exclamation marks, five + (plus) signs and a beautifully demure barcode in the corner (other publishers take note, please).

Content: A quite dramatic contents spread highlights Updates, Perfect Fit, Features, Fuel and Trainer – a little enigmatic for the first-time caller, but the message is there. Some surprises like a summer fashion special and fat loss foods but fans of the hard-core exercise regime and pictures of men with muscles to emulate won’t be disappointed either.

Digital: No website, just a subscription page, as is the Dennis way, but very healthy social media with 139k followers on Twitter and 607k likes on Facebook.

What they say: “Five years ago this month I had just left a great job to set up my own business...what an incredible few years it has been. Looking forward to this adventure continuing,” editor-in-chief Jon Lipsey coming over all misty-eyed on Twitter (hope the P45 is not in the post).

Verdict: Feels very, er, muscular and won’t disappoint the press-ups and powders brigade. A good variety of material from cycling to cooking make this a good buy for readers who don’t want to move from the sofa.

Men's Health

What’s it about: ‘The only magazine that improves every single area of your life, every month’ – so says Twitter page.

Vital statistics: July 2018 issue: 338 pages of 285mm x 220mm. Quality gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £4.10 cover price. Combined ABC of 175,683 with 10,445 from digital. Published monthly by Hearst in London.

Cover: Big pic of everywhere man Joe Wicks with no shirt, two coverlines with his name, eight other coverlines, six numbers not including the helpful, but tiny, page number cross-refs.

Content: Page four reveals what’s coming up – Weight loss, Nutrition, Muscle, Gear, Health, Fitness – and page five adds some flesh (sorry, muscle) to the cover stories. Page six reveals there are ’60 experts’ writing in the mag including a pharmacologist, a physiologist and a philosopher. The set pieces like ‘cover model muscle’ Joe Wicks and eight pages of barbecueing rattle along nicely while the quicker reads are as tasty as ‘plantain power-up energy balls’ (see page 17). An irresistible quiz to finish: Happy hour looks like a) the pub b) the weekend c) a bottle at your desk.

Digital: Neat and tidy website with click-throughs to Twitter (316k followers) and Facebook with a whopping 1.05 million likes.

What they say: “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!” – error message on Twitter when following the link from website page of editor Toby Wiseman.

Verdict: Upmarket ads like TAG Heuer, Jaguar, and Dolce & Gabbana on a card insert give this thoroughly likeable offering more of a lifestyle appeal rather than just health. Careful and clever design with contemporary graphics elevate it into that space occupied by the big men’s glossies, something you might not appreciate from the rather macho cover.

Natural Health

What’s it about: ‘UK’s top alternative wellbeing magazine’ – strapline above masthead.

Vital statistics: July 2018 issue: 132 pages of 276mm x 203mm. Quality matt paper, heavyweight glossy cover, perfect bound. £4.99 cover price. Circulation figures unavailable. Published monthly by Aceville in Colchester.

Cover: Big pic of a smiling, healthy-looking woman who is not Patsy Kensit, the only name mentioned on the cover. Seven coverlines plus a ‘PLUS’ along the foot of the page promoting four more stories.

Content: Easy to follow contents spread touts Body, Eat Natural, Beauty, Self and Living as well as some offers and an Up Front section that includes that Patsy Kensit column. Food section is well illustrated – tofu with young peppercorns, anyone? – and ‘beauty’ features plenty of products to help get the look. Comes in poly bag with 224-page ‘Positive Thinking’ book and some magnesium oil joint spray.

Digital: An ad-filled website that’s a little difficult to navigate and tiny links to Twitter (17.2k followers) and Facebook (7.7k likes) and a few hundred on Instagram.

What they say: “We are so sorry about this – our customer service provider has been instructed to elevate this as a priority today. We are really sorry that on this occasion a gift has slipped through the net,” – ‘Customer Service Provider’ taking the flack on Facebook for missing subscription gift.

Verdict: A bright and useful publication that avoids some of the preachiness that can often roll along with the natural health bandwagon. A good spread of full-page ads and promotions (well done, commercial team) which can sometimes fight with the opposing editorial content. Almost exclusively female focused, so the publisher might be missing a trick with the other half of the population.

Women’s Health

What’s it about: ‘The latest in fitness, healthy food and women's health’ – explainer on Twitter page.

Vital statistics: July 2018 issue: 140 pages of 285mm x 214mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. £4.20 cover price. Combined ABC of 132,728, with 8,334 from digital. Published monthly by Hearst in London.

Cover: Big pic of TV presenter Caroline Flack who has ‘finally found balance’ in her life, eight other coverlines, two question marks and an artfully curving arrow pointing at Caroline’s elbow.

Content: Editor-in-chief makes us feel ‘Welcome’ followed by credits and contents and another big pic of Ms Flack. Opening section called Know How is crammed with useful bits and pieces, Eat Smart helps readers do just that followed by other sections on mind, body and looks. The longer reads, including the Flack-fest are well presented with generous photography. Some travel, promotions and a delightful ‘My week on a plate’ (don’t try this at home).

Digital: Orderly website plugged on the folio line and click through to Twitter (60.8k followers) and Facebook (622k likes). All the team have an Instagram name to follow and with 377k followers, they must be doing something right.

What they say: “Excellent team player, willing to contribute to tasks outside of the job description” – multi-tasker required in job ad for Fashion Editor.

Verdict: Takes a populist yet considered approach combining celebrity with down to earth food and exercise advice. Great to see a decent proportion of ‘ordinary people’ (aka readers) in there too.

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