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on February 6, 2002
I've been a subscriber for two years, but I'm not going to renew this time. There are some great things about this magazine. There's always information about eating healthy, and many of the recipes are wonderful. Another feature is the Diary portion, where the magazine profiles individuals who have turned to fitness and healthy eating in order to lose weight. It's the most inspiring part of the magazine, and it's great that the magazine focuses on real women, not just how to tell those in perfect shape to stay in shape.
I do wish that the magazine would have a bit more variety. I feel like I keep seeing many of the same exercises repeated over and over. I also wish the magazine would realize that not all of us are in to New Age spirituality. If you do choose to subscribe, don't be surprised to see the latest issue at the newsstand before it arrives in your mailbox.
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on January 22, 2002
I'm a past subscriber of Shape magazine. I enjoyed the Success Stories the most - I'd like to see one of these as a main feature, with more exercise/diet details.
I did enjoy it for a couple of years, then I got a feeling of deja vu - the articles started getting a bit samey, like they're running out of ideas and recycling the same old stuff. I might buy the odd Shape issue on the newstand if a cover feature catches my eye, but now I'm trying out some other fitness magazines for variety.
I agree with another reviewer that too many of the exercises use machines - I'd much rather see handweights. Maybe when they recycle the same ol 'moves again, they could use free weights.
And the clothes profiled are too expensive, not to the mention the emphasis on vacationing at health spas (why do these always smell of staff junkets...)
My advice is to subscribe for a year or two, then reread the same issues again...
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on February 17, 2002
I've been subscribing to Shape for two years now and I have decided not to renew my subscription this year. When I first began reading Shape, it was almost solely dedicated to fitness and health. Now it's about 50% beauty and fashion (and a lot is articles that are simply trying to push products). I disagree with the writer who said that she wished they would stop showing moves with gym machines; this is one of the few sections of SHAPE I enjoy reading, as it does give great instructions on how to use the machines (definitely cheaper than hiring a personal trainer). But I do agree with the previous comments that the stories are starting to all sound the same from month to month - especially the success stories. If you're just starting to exercise, this magazine will be helpful for you. But if you're a long-time exerciser, skip this one.
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on December 29, 2005
I use to subscribe to SHAPE several years ago, and then it was packed full of great work out routines, meal plans, etc for women at all levels of fitness.

Well . . . my last few months of Shape have been a complete disappointment. I found very few pages of good genuine fitness and healthy eating advice. Instead, it ranks right up with Glamour in the category of magazines with the highest percentage of advertisements, nearly all of the excercise material is supposed "quick fix" fitness fluff which gives women very unrealistic expectations, and the healthy eating advise is absolutely elementary.

There is no substance in here for women like me, the average working woman who desire to live a healthy life everyday and have limited time to commit to exercise. I want a magazine that is inspiring with a focus on living a sustained healthy lifestyle, not a joke about getting flat abs in a week with illustrations of perfectly chiseled models who obviously do not face the body challenges of average women. I'm sorry but most women are not going to look like "her" after two weeks, or many months of Shape's 10-30 minute a day routines, but they sure lead you to beleive so.

I highly recommend "Her Sports" it is THE magazine for women desiring to live an active, day-to-day healthy life!
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on April 11, 2005
Hardly an issue of "SHAPE" hits the newstands that does not prominently feature some article that sells some myth of fitness. There is almost always some article on "sculpting" followed by another implying there are some magic "spot reducing" exercise contained the pages. These two myths of fitness seem to be part of the magazine's core editorial policy. "Sculpting" is something done to clay, not muscles and fat, and "spot reducing" is a myth that ranks up there with the Flat Earth Society. I suspect the editorial staff of "SHAPE" promotes the kind of articles that espouse what people want to hear, not what is true about working out. Furthermore, nearly every photo of a strength training exercise features some hot-looking 20-something model using weights so light they wouldn't challenge a grandmother. Never will you see a picture of a model holding a weight that would be even slightly heavy for a healthy, fit woman of that age.

Mostly this magazine seems to be an excuse to sell ad space. Save your money and look elsewhere.
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About two years ago, I became a subscriber to Shape, mainly because I had received it for free as part of a package deal with another magazine. I had always liked browsing through issues of Shape in the supermarket, and I thought that being a subscriber would help support my fitness goals. Overall, I have enjoyed Shape and found it to be useful, but there definitely are some negatives, and the magazine might not be for everyone.

But first the good. Like many others have mentioned, what I most enjoy about Shape is their real-life weight stories featuring a nice variety of women, some of whom actually needed to *gain* weight in order to be healthy. I also love their relatively new feature in which they follow one of their own staffers on a year-long weight loss journey. Many of their other regular features are also excellent, particularly the body part-focused strength exercises and other how-to exercise guides. And I especially like that Shape uses "Reader Models" with so many of their articles--real life women of various ages (although admittedly, mostly in the 25-35 range) with normal, healthy, strong bodies. Finally, their featured exercise plans each month often offer some unique variations on traditional exercises, and the recipes are often quite good as well.

The main negative has already been brought up by many others here: the use of too-skinny, not overtly fit or strong models to illustrate much of the magazine. I find this extremely disappointing; I understand that to sell magazines, the models probably have to conform to some traditional standards of attractiveness, but those of us buying the magazine want to see women who are not only fit but also strong--show us some muscles now and then! As I said above, the reader models are great; the women are usually quite fit, but they have muscles and curves too, which is wonderful to see. Shape MAY be trying to make some improvements in this area, as the last few covers have featured famous women who do exercise (such as Denise Richards), but they still have a long way to go. And while they're at it, I hope they will return to having their cover models dress in fitness wear, not bathing suits! They can still show off their model's physique AND showcase cute fitness wear at the same time. Similarly, I would like to see the magazine get rid of the fashion segment at the end *unless* they start focusing it on exercise clothing, not haute couture.

If you are overweight and/or new to exercising, you may find the magazine discouraging, but if you can get past some of the negatives, it can also be inspiring. I think it's up to each individual to determine whether a magazine like this is likely to hurt or help her fitness efforts; for me, it is helpful, but this definitely might not be the case with everyone.
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VINE VOICEon January 25, 2012
I really used to enjoy Shape, it had a nice balance of fitness, nutrition, and some beauty. It also would also contain very good articles addressing women's issues. Since the new editor Tara Kraft took over, this magazine has really gone down hill. The articles on fitness and nutrition are almost nil and the serious articles that really addressed women's issues are now very rarely there. She has basically turned this into a wanna be beauty magazine. On the editor's page, Valerie Latona would write about causes or women's concerns. Tara Kraft just presents a narcissistic catalog of all the extraordinarily expensive things she likes or wants. After subscribing to this magazine for years, I just got my last issue and I won't renew. How disappointing.
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on March 29, 2002
I read some of the previous reviews and honestly I don't fully see where they are coming from. I've subscribed for about a year and a half and while I see some recaps on some similar exercises, they throw in new things a lot. There are a lot of recipes and notes on diets and such that I love, and they only talk about how bad fad diets are and don't advertise for them! The workouts do mostly require membership at gyms, but that's why there are magazines out there like Self...I kind of consider Shape for not so amateur exercises and Self for the new and not really wanting to spend a lot of time at it person, or who wants to workout only at home. It's great they show you the equipment and how to use it...and all kinds of great little tips that are helpful. I also do like a little of the beauty stuff, yet it's not overwhelming it. yes the clothes are spendy, but who says you have to buy them? I think they are in all magazines!
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on November 2, 2011
I used to read Shape regularly years ago. I decided to get a subscription again recently, and I can't believe the changes. Every other page at least is an ad. "Articles" featured on the front page, in nearly every case but perhaps one, consists of a 200 word blurb, a giant photo and a couple fluff facts to go with it, all on less than one page (sometimes half!).

The actual exercise articles and tips are few and far between. There is a lack of any health news, no breakthroughs, no Q&A, nothing really but "fun" layouts in place of actual text, and fluff. Lots of fluff. You could combine all the actual content in this 162 page magazine down to 15 pages.

The Editor's page alone should tell you that you are going to be in trouble. On her note from the Editor's page she always puts photos and info on what she finds "necessary" that month. it's usually a lavish vacation, some expensive spa, some $400 dollar dress that she proclaims is a "bargain". It's like she is writing the page to all those high school friends that she hated and wants to know she's doing well, not to her actual readers. Sounds catty, but I can't think of why else she would put such irrelevant information as where she took her last expensive vacation. It's not relevant to nearly anyone reading it. I got the magazine for health and workout info, not overpriced clothing info. I get Vogue for that. The biggest problem is overall content however. It's a terrible excuse for a magazine and not worth the paper it is printed on. Poor trees.
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on January 21, 2007
This is a "fluffy" women's fitness magazine. It regurgitates the same information over and over, just repackages it a little differently each time. "Let's give readers the same workout with a red bikini this time..." They use models that are far too thin and not even muscular looking for most of the fashion spreads, which seems to encourage an unhealthy body type. I also found the magazine to underassume the intelligence of the readers. Muscle & Fitness Hers, Oxygen and Fitness Rx are much better choices if you are serious about fitness.
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