There's barely a trace of "The Shield" in M&F's look at Chiklis' training regimen for the upcoming "Fantastic Four" flick. Nor, actually, is there much of anything in the mag besides muscles and fitness. I counted exactly three pages out of 264 - one on the revamped Dodge Charger, one on sunglasses, and one on sunscreens - that had nothing to do with the magazine's title subjects.
And that's precisely the way it should be. M&F doesn't dilly-dally; there are no specious "songs to work out to" lists or features on weight-room décor. It delivers on its title promise, and that's that.
To its credit, the publication does so in a surprisingly imaginative manner. Take the Chiklis/"Fantastic Four" tie-in. In addition to a short Q&A with the star, the mag adds a five-page "Super Power Workout" comic created by Marvel Comics that drops the superhero-y gang into the weight-room setting. The mag also sets photographer John Hunt loose at the Arnold Fitness Weekend, and the resulting hazy, black-and-white photos make the competitors appear almost genteel.
The July issue finds M&F continuing to stretch its editorial wingspan. The publication now offers a dedicated section for women readers, highlighted by a feature on Hollywood stuntwoman Danielle Burgio. Wisely, the profile concentrates on Burgio's fitness regimens, rather than on tales of Hollywood pomp and debauchery. If M&F readers want fluffy featurettes, Lord knows there are other places they can turn. Here as elsewhere, the publication keeps its eyes on the prize.
That prize, of course, is a bod so taut and solid that it could double as a department-store mannequin. Needless to say, M&F hasn't turned its back on its legacy of providing incredibly involved workout and nutrition tips. The July issue offers a training notebook (complete with perforated rip-and-save tips on calf-sculpting), a series of training-table nuggets (pizza without at least eight meat toppings? The horror. The horror.) and an anecdote-minded training section (profiles of training routines, rather than personal histories). The mag also presents "boredom-busting" workout variations and a proposed regimen for individuals who don't have the time to pump (clap!) themselves up during the workweek.
I don't have any problems with M&F's straightforward, straight-faced tone, which is proudly devoid of puns and pop-culture nods. I wonder, however, when the mag will get a tad more adventurous with its design. Granted, given their instructional bent, the stories have to include a certain number of inelegant gruntin'-and-liftin' shots and illustrations. But the "Fantastic Four" and photo spreads excepted, M&F doesn't offer much graphically.
In his editorial, M&F executive editor and California governor (giggle) Arnold Schwarzenegger notes that he is "reluctant to come across as the retired sour-grapes bodybuilder pining for the 'good old days.'" While I can't speak to anything hulk- or bulk-related - an attempt to lift my printer/copier dealie the other day left me in traction, sobbing for my mommy - it's heartening that the magazine itself adopts a similar approach to the one Gov. Schwarzenegger (chuckling uncontrollably) recommends. Its tone is sincere to a fault and forward-looking, advocating hard work rather than quick fixes. There's more than a little nobility in that.