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FITNESS

Read All About It

One in an occasional series * Next month: A review of health magazines.

June 29, 1998|LESLIE KNOWLTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Feeding our desire to stay trim and youthful is the ever-expanding specialty category of fitness magazines. With titles targeted to everyone from pregnant women to aging men, many publications in this niche include hearty doses of general health information, in addition to workout routines, recipes and travel tips.

Here is a guide to nine of today's top fitness titles, including some newcomers:

Shape

* Issues a year: 12

* Established: 1981

* Circulation: 1.1 million

* Cover price: $2.99

One of the top sellers in Joe Weider's fitness magazine kingdom, this visually pleasing magazine, with its crisp photography and plentiful white space, has won more than 10 awards since 1990, including a Folio for editorial excellence in the overall women's category. In addition to workout routines and real-life success stories, it includes travel, recipes and beauty tips, and it tackles tough topics such as eating disorders.

* Recent features: "The Modern Medicine Chest" (why yours should include ginger, feverfew, echinacea and peppermint); "Guiding Lights" (with a personal travel guide, go safely to places you'd normally only see in photos); "Rx for PMS" (new remedies for premenstrual syndrome).

***

Living Fit

* Issues a year: 10

* Established: 1994

* Circulation: 320,000

* Cover price: $2.99

Designed for women 35 and older, this rapidly growing Weider magazine is an attractive and fabulous read for anyone. The celebrity covers feature in-shape middle-aged women, such as Gloria Estefan and Cybill Shepherd, showing us that getting older doesn't have to be bad. Check out the hard-hitting medical stories and beautifully written personal essays on everything from letting hair go gray to turning 50.

* Recent features: "Addicted to Quitting" (a realistic and timely primer to help women stop smoking); "The Final Option" (are Mexican cancer clinics dispensing cutting-edge curatives or hawking hokum?); "Hot Shots" (injections to erase wrinkles).

***

Men's Fitness

* Issues a year: 12

* Established: 1983

* Circulation: 300,000

* Cover price: $3.95

Designed for the typical guy who wants to stay in shape but isn't into full-time bodybuilding, this additional title from Weider is a great read for women, too. Its recent redesign is sharp and lively, with an eclectic mix of articles ranging from sports and adventure to health and fitness for the mind and body.

* Recent features: "Rethinking the Midlife Crisis" (males have menopause, too); "No-Brainer Weight Loss" (transform your diet and physique in just six weeks); "Get What You Want From Women" (learn artful persuasion); "Into the Woods" (a complete guide to backpacking escapes).

***

Fitness

* Issues a year: 10

* Established: 1989

* Circulation: 900,000

* Cover price: $2.50

Published for the past four years by Gruner & Jahr, Fitness is chock-full of useful information on everything from looks to health of mind and body, with lots of real-life success stories to inspire you. Check out "Fitness Investigates," in which writers test products ranging from buckwheat-hull-filled Sobakawa pillows to silicone pouches that go into bras.

* Recent features: "Does Drinking Wreck Your Diet?" (the truth about alcohol); "Do Fad Diets Work?" (three outrageous diets put to the test); "Find Your Metabolic Type" (which one of four types are you and what does it mean?).

***

Prime Health & Fitness

* Issues a year: 4

* Established: 1995

* Circulation: 175,000

* Cover price: $3.50

Targeted to men 35 and older, this attractive Weider newcomer is a fabulous addition to the fitness magazine scene and a good read for any age or sex. In addition to useful fitness and cosmetic ideas, it tackles serious health topics such as melanoma, heart disease and prostate cancer in a strong and intelligent way.

* Recent features: "Kicking Butts" and "Quit and Get Fit" (two excellent stories on quitting smoking); "Head Strong" (lower your risk for strokes); "Lag Time" (how to deal with jet lag).

***

Conde Nast

Women's Sports & Fitness

* Issues a year: 6

* Established: 1997

* Circulation: 350,000

* Cover price: $2.50

Launched in October as a monthly called Conde Nast Sports for Women, this magazine was revamped after the publisher acquired Women's Sports + Fitness in January. Appearing with the new title for the first time in June, it's designed for the already active woman who wants new and varied challenges, and covers fitness in addition to sports such as golf and surfing, plus nutrition, health, travel and style.

* Recent features: "What Is Pilates and Can You Do It at Home?"; "On the Trail of the Turtles" (about the island of Culebra and it's leatherback sea turtles); "Too Sexy for Her Game?" (the life and times of tennis starlet Anna Kournikova).

***

Fit

* Issues a year: 6

* Established: 1995

* Circulation: 250,000

* Cover price: $2.99

This magazine from Goodman Media Group--publisher also of American Woman and various country and decorating magazines--has lots of exercise routines, celebrity health news, medical updates, recipes, travel and beauty tips.

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