The folks at Esquire first introduced their readers to fitness with a special section in May 1984. Then, because of the overwhelming response to the issue, they published "Ultimate Fitness."

The book is a bread-and-butter approach to physical fitness. Its greatest attributes are organization and creative presentation, beginning with the first section -- Ten Keys to High-Level Health and Athletics -- and continuing through the second, which introduces the Esquire Aerobics Program.

The 10 keys -- life skills, aerobics, strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, relaxation, concentration, competition and nutrition -- are each explained in two parts: first in theory, then with specific exercises and advice.

The second half of the book consists mostly of pictures with a brief explanation of numerous exercises, starting with the warmup, progressing through the aerobics workout and ending with the warmdown. This workout is nothing more than those exercises that are performed by thousands of people every day in aerobics classes and made popular by television with "The 20-Minute Workout."

Indeed, most of the information in the book is not new and in some places becomes too technical for the beginning athlete. The 239-page book is a compilation of nearly every popular health and fitness book on the market. But for those readers who haven't read all the latest books, this one is a good place to start.

The people at Esquire certainly did their homework, and the first half of the book is comprehensive. It quotes hundreds of authors and experts, and while many of the explanations are common-sense advice, many are interesting.

"Because breathing is the only bodily process that is both conscious and unconscious," say the authors about flexibility, "yoga masters, among others, have always looked on it as a way to gain access to body functions we don't normally think of as being in our control. And so it is with deep relaxation . . . Relaxation, as we've seen, helps athletic activity."

While the book never answers the question "What is Ultimate Fitness?" the motherly advice it gives will remind you to concentrate on some of the more subtle aspects of physical fitness.