Women's Health

While many magazines are barely keeping their collective heads above water, Rodale's Women's Health is flourishing.

Earlier this week, the title raised its rate base for the sixth time since its launch in October 2005. Starting with its January/February 2010 issue, it increases its rate base 11%, from its current 1.35 million to 1.5 million.

Publisher Jack Essig said in a statement that consumer demand drove the rate increase. Women's Health's total paid circulation has increased 30% in 2009 compared with the same period last year. "Women's Health has editions covering 21 countries and reaching more than 11 million readers around the world," Essig said. "Women everywhere are embracing the brand for its straightforward and unique approach to health, fitness, beauty, sex, relationships and fashion coverage, which has led to its tremendous success."

So what is it about this magazine that has women so excited? Its appeal could be that while it tackles serious topics, it's also borderline trashy. Take the cover blurbs: "17 Super-hot sex secrets!" "How to talk so he'll really listen" and "8 Fashion trends: Cool now, classic later." These could just as easily be in Cosmo, the headmistress of trashy goodness, as Women's Health.

While standing at the newsstand debating between reviewing Women's Health and Natural Health, I flipped open both magazines to the middle to see what I'd get.

Women's Health easily sealed the deal with "Let your girls in on the action" which features a huge shot of a half-naked woman pushing her "girls" inward as she strategically covers her nipples. "Your boobs are wily little seductresses," the article begins. "They poke provocatively out of bikini tops, peek over lacy push-up bras, and flaunt their fabulousness naked in bed - turning any red-blooded heterosexual male into a panting pile of mush. But what most women don't realize is that their boobs can give them heaps of satisfaction too." Take that, Cosmo.

Besides sex ed, there's a slew of other good info in this issue. I read with particular interest the article, "You can be a runner." My gym membership has lapsed and I've been trying to come up with other fitness options that might be easier on the wallet. I used to run in college, but would I still be able to do it without killing my aging joints or other body parts? This straight-to-the-point two-page article assures me that I can and should run. It debunks much of the bad press the sport has gotten (no, it doesn't ruin your knees or lead to chronic back pain. And it doesn't make your skin sag; runners may just look like they have more wrinkles because they are thinner. I can live with that.)

I'm not a fashion aficionado, but I appreciated the looks featured in the "Cool now, classic later" piece. I could easily see myself investing in a sheer blouse or a pair of kicky boots, although the idea of spending $775 on the Michael Kors booties featured on one page makes me feel a little nauseous. Boots, or more than half of the mortgage payment? Not a tough decision.

Thankfully, not everything is out of range for the working-class woman. The $12.50 Hue fishnets are a much better alternative to the $138 BCBG Max Azria tights, thank you very much.

I'd never heard of the cover girl, actress Mila Kunis, but after reading the amusing profile of the 26-year-old upstart, I will seek out her movies. Angelina Jolie better keep an eye on Brad Pitt, because Kunis looks like a younger, hotter version of her without the Billy Bob Thornton baggage. But unlike Jolie, I'll bet Kunis isn't a homewrecker. She comes off as too nice for that.

"Secrets of the skin doctors" is a great piece in which four dermatologists are grilled about what products they recommend for various skin types. Although I've always been blessed with good skin, it's good to get some product tips to handle the inevitable aging issues. The article includes prices and store info right in the text, which I find preferable to having to flip to a separate "where-to-buy" section.

Honestly, it's hard to find much of anything to criticize in this magazine, which probably explains its popularity and profitability. It definitely has a user-friendly feel to it. In some pieces, for example, text is highlighted in yellow at the beginning of new thoughts, which helps break up the copy. Let's face it: The Internet has changed the way people read and consume information. And only the magazines that are responsive to that will survive. Like Women's Health.

Published By: Rodale Inc.

Frequency: 10 Times Per Year

Web site:

2 comments about "Women's Health".
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  1. Susan Benjamin, August 18, 2009 at 10:26 a.m.

    This article seems to come from an agency or a mag. employee. No magazine is perfect and, at the very least, a good review should be more than a one-sided pitch.

  2. Tanya Gazdik from MediaPost, August 18, 2009 at 11:39 a.m.

    I did call it "trashy." I'm sure the Rodale people aren't thrilled with that. Seriously, look at their numbers. And show me another magazine in the category that is even close to being this profitable. I write 'em like I see 'em.

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