Best Life

11-10slide1When BEST LIFE WAS SPUN-OFF from Rodale's successful Men's Health last May, many wondered whether the men's category was facing another derivative clone. Was Best Life going to duplicate much of what its parent already does well without providing anything original (like say Stuff does with Maxim)?

Looking at the January/February issue, there is the inevitable cover promise of getting fit, but unlike Men's Health, there are no shirtless guys in the issue, with nary an ab exercise to be found.

What Best Life has carved out is a service book for 40-ish guys not quite ready for AARP, with a splash of Oprah-style inspiration. Despite some initial skepticism, this approach looks to be a pretty smart move.

Check out the issues covered in the upfront column 'Advisor': "My 14-year old son...I just got divorced." Yes, Best Life's audience is reached by GQ and Esquire, but doesn't always get the sort of information about themselves that they might prefer, since those magazines focus on celebrities and longer form features.

Instead, Best Life covers topics like the customs for tipping in Japan, best places to rehab (did you know Betty Ford cost $14,000?), and places to 'take her away' (private islands, not spring break).

Obviously, this reader is wealthy, and maybe a bit dandy. In "Crib Notes," tips are provided for creating a 'boutique hotel feeling at home.' There is also a piece on antique cartography (old maps).

Of course, most of what is tackled in Best Life is not groundbreaking. There is a how-to-stick-to-it workout piece that we've seen a dozen times in health and fitness magazines. But the feature offers testimony from real guys struggling with weight, and then breaks down real life situations for these power guys rather than offering vague tips: things like how to avoid overeating when you are traveling on business, working crazy hours, or entertaining clients.

There is also a big feature on "The Sex of Your Life," that touches on how to appeal to women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. While the service approach on this subject is a bit creepy (especially advising older guys on how to get younger girls) the fact that the piece is filled with testimony from real women, including some celebrities, provides insight with depth.

The feature on cover subject Kevin Spacey is a weak point - it's purely a PR piece for his movie Beyond the Sea, and it has a 'who cares' quality that doesn't fit the rest of the info-filled magazine. Also, a story on Peter DeLeo, who survived a plane crash in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, is a cool read, but feels more appropriate for Esquire.

Overall however, Best Life serves an underserved audience, and makes tired material fresh.

Next story loading loading..