Media Lifeline: Men's health titles

Publishers achieve mixed success in getting men to read about exercise.

December 1999: FHM's publisher Emap, having identified fitness as a growing fad, launches FHM Bionic, with plans to publish it as a twice-yearly newsstand spin-off. But sales are so encouraging (around 100,000) that it decides, in August 2001, to relaunch it as a monthly.

December 2001: But it proves a flop. Keep-fit fanatics find its increasingly oafish posturing terribly patronising; while long-term fans of FHM oafishness prove stubbornly resistant to the notion that they should embrace a healthy lifestyle. After three issues as a monthly, Bionic's circulation has dipped below 45,000. In the week before Christmas, Emap, with admirable timing, announces that the title is to close with the loss of 11 jobs.

May 2004: Other sweaty titles (ZM from The National Magazine Company and GQ Active) had gone the same way; but NatMags keeps faith with keep-fit. It realises it needs some proper expertise, so in 2004, it signs a joint venture deal with Rodale, the publisher of Men's Health. As the monthly market has its heart ripped out, first by lads' weeklies, then by the migration of readership online, Men's Health turns out to be a solid performer.

January 2008: Men's Health even has the cheek to take the fight to FHM. When FHM reveals it is to launch a travel-sized compact edition to be sold in Smith Travel and Alpha Retail shops, NatMags announces plans for a dinky version of Men's Health to compete head to head.

November 2008: Bauer Media, FHM's current owner, can't help but notice that Men's Health isn't the only success story in this sector - the circulation of Dennis Publishing's Men's Fitness has also been holding up. Time, perhaps, to put a toe back into this water - it announces that FHM Bionic will reappear as special edition available on newsstands in December. It is to be aimed at those hoping to trim down again after the excesses of Christmas.

Fast forward ...

December 2009: In the week before Christmas, Bauer now announces it is to cease publication of the main FHM brand as a print product. Instead, it (FHM, not Christmas) will now exist primarily as an internet portal - but a number of FHM lifestyle, fitness and fashion newsstand spin-offs will continue to appear on an irregular basis. The flagship in a new "heritage media" division is Bionic, which will now aim at four issues a year.

You have

[DAYS_LEFT] Days left

of your free trial

Subscribe now


Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Become a member of Campaign

Get the latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now