Archive for the ‘Magazine: Health and Fitness’ Category

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Yoga Journal (

Issue reviewed: November 2010, Issue 233

  • Published in San Francisco, Calif., by Cruz Bay Publishing Inc./Active Interest Media
  • Circulation: 350,000
  • 120 pages, perfect bound


  • average HHI: $84,120
  • yoga practitioners


Yoga Journal gives the appearance of being very basic material that anyone who has taken a single yoga class, or who has some appreciation for the practice, could jump right into and “get” immediately. But it is not light reading. Once the reader reaches the features, about halfway through the book, the stories stretch for 6 to 7 pages each, and the content assumes the reader has a thorough enough knowledge to skip defining such concepts as samsara and asana. And the magazine does not focus on how to do the newest, coolest pose — very little of the content focuses on poses. The yogic lifestyle is the overriding force — the thoughts, behaviors, diets, spirituality, medicinal and physical aspects of the lifestyle are discussed in-depth.


Yoga Journal has pleasing colors throughout and makes good use of white space. Some of the elements in the magazine are really fresh — such as the parenthesis around deck heads. Some others, like the thought balloons, dotted lines and double lines, are less original but still appealing. The photography is diverse and interesting: The shots of yoga poses are artistic, and the food photography is very well done (and very appetizing!).

What’s Best

  • Editor’s Note: Although editor Kaitlin Quistgaard doesn’t let the reader learn about Ms. Quistgaard at all, she does do a good job of shaping the theme of the November issue in the editor’s letter, Reality Show. She previews three of the articles in the issue and ties them all together — that yoga helps its practitioners better see and accept the truths at hand.
  • Ayurveda: This section in the shorts department, Om, is made up of two single pages addressing Ayurveda (the science of life) — how to take care of your skin based on what type you are (fire, earth, water, air). It’s a beautiful layout of products, displayed like meals and accented with flora. It’s a unique approach to what amounts to a short product guide.
  • Web integration: Throughout the magazine are references to bonus material on Yoga Journal’s website — and it has tons of extra content in the form of photos, videos, articles and blogs. The website is a great companion to the magazine, and is strong enough to stand completely on its own for someone who doesn’t have a subscription and is just getting started and needs a primer.

What’s Worst

  • Cover: The left-hand side of the cover features a strip that breaks the flow of the nice colors and attractive type to include a monotonous list of subjects covered, such as health, fitness and food. It adds nothing and instead takes up valuable real estate.
  • page: This page doesn’t seem to have been designed by the same designers for the rest of the magazine. Whereas white space is tastefully used on the rest of the pages, this single page looks too sparse, like something is missing.

Overall Opinion

Yoga Journal was a nice surprise. The editorial content was full of variety and addressed multiple topics of interest to yogis. The integration of sidebars and short how-tos into feature stories was well-done and keeps the reader’s brain working from cover to sign-off. For its depth and breadth, I give Yoga Journal an A.

I invite your comments! Check out the magazine or its website and tell me what you think of it.

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

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Healthy Living (

Issue reviewed: August 2010, Vol. 3, Issue 8

  • Published in Leesburg, Fla., by Akers Media Group
  • Circulation: less than 20,000


  • residents of Lake County, Fla.
  • people interested in overall health or fitness

Overall Editorial

Healthy Living intrigued me because it won best overall magazine (consumer, circ <20K) at the recent Florida Magazine Association conference. So it was almost a challenge to see what’s so great about it. (For reference, Boca Raton Magazine and SOBeFit won in the higher circulation categories. I’m not familiar with Boca Raton Mag yet, but SOBeFit is one rockin’ publication.) The editorial in Healthy Living is fairly diverse, from pet adoption to child health to medical myths to finance to cooking … and the list keeps going. But the quality of writing is not consistent: Whereas some stories in this issue (A Sight For Sore Eyes: My LASIK Adventure) are engaging from the beginning and informative throughout, some others (cover feature Feat of Gold) lacked an interesting lead and never climaxed.

Overall Design

The design is a hit most of the way through. The colors are bold and eye-catching, and the photography is very strong. But the design has two failings: One, the editorial is often hard to discern from advertising, possibly because the taglines at the top of the pages are too small and the design just inconsistent enough to make the department pages not resemble each other; and two, the typography needs serious help. Justified type is dated and should be changed to ragged right as quickly as possible, and the paragraphs in most articles are separated by a line rather than by a tab. It just feels old.

Cover Design and Blurbs

The cover is striking! I didn’t know who Tyson Gay was, but after seeing this cover, I couldn’t wait to find out! Using minimal colors — black, white and aqua — the designers made this cover pop. The nameplate is inviting and works well in other colors (as I’ve seen in other issues of Healthy Living). I couldn’t tell at first that this was a regional magazine. It looks good enough to be on the national newsstand. And some of the cover blurbs were pretty good: My fave was What’s In Your Makeup?, leaving the credit card Vikings from TV commercials screaming this phrase in my head all evening. The cover is slightly wider format than standard magazines, and it has a matte finish that makes you want to touch it.

Editor’s Note

In the Publisher’s Corner, publisher Kendra Akers writes A Fast Start, comparing sprinter Tyson Gay’s journey to that of Healthy Living. It’s short and sweet, and reminds the reader that the magazine he or she is holding is an award winner and is being recognized in publishing circles. It also leaves the reader rooting for the magazine to take home the Best Overall Magazine award, which it did just a few weeks ago.

Departments and Columns

Community Matters is the short section that most magazines have that gives quick info. But the design on this section is so bland that I don’t want to read any of it. I’m forcing myself for the benefit of this review. Nothing jumps out, everything’s boxed off, and all the titles are shrunk to nobody-cares-to-read-me size. It’s a terrible missed opportunity because each tidbit is likely interesting to residents of Lake County; however, the writing is as bland as the design in this section, and the mini-articles read more like short press releases than small, dynamic stories. But thankfully, the other departments in this magazine are much better. Medical Mythbusters takes readers’ health myths and explains whether they’re true or old wives’ tales. Pet Adoption introduces readers to a local shelter critter who needs a home and also offers a pet care tip. Two columns in the back of the book, S’motherhood and Mencouragement (creative titles!), are well written and interesting perspectives from each gender.


The issue seemed to focus its energy on two main features: Feat of Gold and Hide-and-Seek: Hidden Health Issues Facing Children Today. I’ve already stated what I thought about the Feat of Gold/Tyson Gay story. It was almost a chronological timeline of Gay’s accomplishments, rather than a story that offered real insight into his personality. The Hide-and-Seek story similarly lacked heart and storytelling. However, the information was good and relevant to parents or really anyone who has a limited understanding of medicine. For a list, though, it felt really disjointed, and I blame the design more than the content for that.

Use of Photography

James Gibson is the chief photographer, and he is blessed with a range of photographic opportunities. He skillfully shot people portraits (not easy), food (definitely not easy), eyeballs (gross) and action shots (really hard). The photos in Healthy Living generally pop off the page, and several made me pause to check them out.

Use of Illustrations

The only illustrations in this issue are in the Hide-and-Seek feature, and they are simple, computer-generated medical illustrations. I’ve seen better, but they get the point across.

Relevance to Intended Audience

This magazine likely appeals to its Lake County residents for highlights such as the community calendar, local updates and features on area talent (like Tyson Gay), as well as ads targeting local customers. Several of its articles could translate just as well to a national magazine because their reach is so broad.

Integration with Website

The website is very attractive, but it doesn’t integrate with the magazine at all. It’s almost a static site that directs the visitor to the online version of the publication (click here to access free copies of several issues of Healthy Living, including the one reviewed here). An integrated website would be an excellent opportunity for Healthy Living to expand its content and its reach, and to demonstrate cross-media engagement to its advertisers. An updated community calendar, a searchable database of articles and bonus information about its feature subjects or contributors would be great assets for the Healthy Living website.

Flow, Story Hierarchy

Studying the contents page helped organize this magazine in my brain. Flipping through, it felt a little all-over-the-place. But it basically has four sections: Beauty & Wellness, Health & Fitness, Food & Nutrition and Balanced Living. It would probably help if the features weren’t mixed in between these sections. I would suggest moving the feature well to the front, after the opening departments but ahead of Beauty & Wellness.

Paper Quality

The paper quality was good — the glare of the pages was sometimes annoying, but the photos looked really strong on the paper. The magazine is perfect-bound, and at 116 pages, it feels really thick and full of content.

Overall Opinion

I give Healthy Living a B for mostly interesting content, very good photography and a compelling cover. I see room for improvement in the typography, the website and the writing.

I invite your comments! Check out the magazine at this link and tell me what you think of it.

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review