Mags: Women's Health (Guest Review)

Our intrepid reviewer Rochelle Zaknich feels inspired to get off the couch... just as soon as the Olympics are over and she's recovered from reading this month's over-zealous issue of Women's Health...

Being a tragic Olympic fan, it was with somewhat greater enthusiasm than usual that I picked up this month’s issue of Women’s Health. I don’t know if it’s all those fit-looking bronzed athletes (go Aussies!) or the sunny Spring-like weather we’ve been having here in Perth, but my thoughts are starting to turn towards hauling myself off the sofa and getting into some sort of health and fitness regime. While I won’t be giving up the sofa just yet – there’s a whole one more week of Olympics to go –, WH seemed like a relevant magazine to flick through in the ad breaks…

The cover... If there’s one thing guaranteed not to surprise you about WH each month, it’s the cover. Think taut, toned chick in a bikini and you’ll never be far off. This month, we get Nicole Boerner – I never recognise the names of any of the cover girls, so I can only assume they’re fit-looking models, or lesser-known athletes who just happen to be pretty. The coverlines feature the usual slew of numbers (‘2,127 All-new Nutrition, Exercise, Relationship, Beauty and Style Tips’ – who has to count these?!) and motivational fitness-speak. It’s labelled a special issue with a focus on ‘Relax & Recharge’ – yes, please!

The ed. says… Alongside her pretty new ed’s photo, Felicity Percival tells us about her difficulty ‘switching off’ during a recent spa visit and laments the fact that we are all drowning in data. A good point, but a quick flick through the issue only adds to this feeling for me – more on this below…

The story line-up:
• The focal point of this month’s issue is ‘The Big Easy’ – jam-packed full of tips and tricks designed to help us streamline our lives, save time and reduce stress. While it’s obvious that a lot of thought and research went into this feature, and many of the tips are quite useful (a diagram showing how to rescue jewellery from the drain – my greatest fear!), I found it contradictory. The feature is so chock-full of websites, gadgets (advertorials?) and numbers that it’s overwhelming. I would have preferred a more holistic approach – how can we change our mindset and streamline our lives from the inside out?
• ‘Sore Subject’ is the token science story this month, all about – you guessed it – pain. A fact-filled, newsy read if you can stay with it (I skimmed!). As a migraine sufferer, I can vouch for the fact that consuming caffeine with your painkillers really can help.
• ‘Head Strong’ is a fitness article all about mind over matter, which felt like a very relevant read after watching 38 year-old Romanian Constantina Tomescu-Dita win the women’s marathon in the Olympics while eating croissants on the sofa today – truly amazing stuff! The feature explains some of the psychology behind endurance, strength-building exercises and motivational mantras from athletes and the WH team (“This is not the hardest thing I’ve ever done”, Amanda Ryan, 32. Though in Tomescu-Dita’s case, it probably was!).
• ‘Sex Repairs’ by Leslie Goldman gives us her first-person experience of sex therapy (brave girl!). Goldman tries to work through three of her issues: impatience to orgasm, her and her partner’s conflicting schedules, and the most tricky: body consciousness. The first two seem to be checked off fairly easily via some tantric breathing and appointment making, while the body-image stuff takes a little more work. Goldman’s therapist explains that it’s the control freak in her coming out, and after some burlesque dancing and a night of submission, the problem is seemingly cured and the feature wrapped up.

The superficial:
• Returning to the ‘relax and recharge’ theme, we get ‘The WH Spa Guide’. All pretty ho-hum for an anti-spa person like myself but possibly quite useful if you’re planning a break yourself. Editor Felicity Percival and Beauty Editor Nicole Wraight both write in-depth reviews before the usual state-by-state guide. It’s probably the cynic in me coming out, but has a journalist ever been sent on an all-expenses-paid spa trip and written a bad review? You know what you’re getting here.
• ‘Lose the Last 3…5…10 Kilos’ features four women who are prescribed diets to help budge the pesky weight that won’t budge. While I think the intentions are good here, I really hate the idea of a diet, especially one that has a name (‘the abs diet’ – sounds fun, huh?). I thought women’s mags were moving past this?
• While I don’t know that it’s ‘superficial’, food articles featuring recipes generally make up the fluffier lifestyle component of the magazine. ‘Power Pizzas’ is a visual treat featuring five pages of recipes that pack a nutritious punch – the Thai Prawn pizza sounds delish!

While I think WH is doing a good job of promoting its mantra, ‘it’s good to be you’, I’d love for it to be a bit more dynamic each month – things are starting to feel a bit formulaic.

The score:
Overall excitement factor: 6
Feel-good factor: 5 and 10ish (ties in well with the tagline of the mag…)
Eye-candy rating: 3

The Stats:
Issue: September 2008
Cover Price: $6.95
Book size: 164 pages
Ad/promo pages: 47 out of 164 pages
FOB ads: Garnier, Olay, Avon, Asics, Biotherm, Champion, O.P.I.
Back Cover: Clinique
Editor: Felicity Percival

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel