This holiday season was different from past years for me in that I actually finished all of my shopping early—almost two weeks ago actually. For once I'm relaxing and enjoying these last weeks of December without the holiday stress of finding and buying those last-minute gifts. But I know that others aren't quite as fortunate. Many of you are still part of the holiday rush, which is why I'm here to help with my own picks for the best fitness gifts for anyone on your list.
Don't panic: You still have a few days to shop before Christmas! The following fitness gifts are all available online and are ready to ship; most are readily available at national chains as well. But even if your shopping is done (lucky you!), you'll find plenty of fabulous ideas here for YOU. After all, you deserve a nice reward for everything you've achieved this year, right? Maybe you'll even get some holiday gift money or a year-end bonus that you can use to treat yourself to a fit gift (or two) to start the new year off right.
Fitness Gifts Both Big and Small
I'm a long-time fan of the Fitbit. I wear mine religiously and love how it motivates me. If you could get one gift to help motivate you to get fitter in 2013, this would be it. I previously raved about the Fitbit—and how it now connects to SparkPeople and we even hold monthly Fitbit steps contests with our members. Now the Fitbit has a new device to replace the Ultra called Fitbit One ($99.95). For the same price as the earlier "Ultra" model, the One also has a silent vibrating alarm and syncs wirelessly to your smartphone or iPad with their cool new app. And for a lower price point, you can get the tiny Fitbit Zip ($59.95). It's big on cuteness (comes in 5 color choices) and has all the key tracking features you'd expect from Fitbit. (P.S. Don't forget to enter our Fitbit One Giveaway. We're pulling winners this Friday!)
The Travel Stick
I'm a big proponent of foam rolling to release and self-massage sore muscles and promote recovery. It's great for you and the pain is oh-so worth it. But I'll admit, I don't love to crawl and contort myself all over the ground in order to relieve a little muscle soreness, so I don't roll as often as I should. Enter The Stick. I was "sold" on this after trying Coach Nancy's travel stick during a running trip to Pittsburgh. It was so easy to use while sitting, standing, and lying—in any position really. It was easy to adjust the pressure myself, and it simply felt great. It's on my holiday wish list this year (hi, Mom!) because it's small enough to travel well or be used at home, and I know I'll actually use it because it works so well and doesn’t involve me constantly pushing my dog away while I roll around on the ground using my foam roller (No offense, Ginger; you know I love you!) Also available at sporting goods and specialty running stores.
oGorgeous Gym Bag
Some women like to spend big money on designer purses. Personally, I'll take an inexpensive purse any day. But I will splurge on something else I use every day: a nice gym bag. I used to think it was crazy to spend more than $40 on a gym bag for your dirty shoes or your smelly clothes. But now that I've had a few "fancy" gym bags, I'll never go back. These make perfect rewards and motivate me to get to the gym. Cassey Ho, of the famed Blogilates YouTube channel, designs her own line of gym bags called oGorgeous. She sent me this oGorgeous gym bag as a "thank you" for creating that fun apartment-friendly cardio workout video with her. It has pockets galore for everything—including my yoga mat—plus a separate removable bag for shoes or dirty clothes, which is a must in my book. The first day I carried this baby to my Pilates class, I got compliments GALORE from everyone. Still do, actually. More than just a gym bag, I've used it as a weekend travel bag, a laptop bag for work, or even an extra-large purse on days I had to carry lots of stuff. Bonus: It's cruelty-free (vegan) faux leather.
The Year's Best Workout DVDs
Would you be offended if someone gave you a workout DVD as a gift? I sure wouldn't! I love workout DVDs and trying new exercises. If you're looking for a great title, here are my top picks from the past year, including a few new releases.
The Ultimate Kettlebell Workout for Beginners
Featuring my favorite kettlebell guru, Paul Katami, this new title breaks down kettlebells into three easy-to-follow 20-minute workouts that are safe and effective. I love Paul's teaching style. His kettlebell DVDs are the best I've ever seen and this one is no exception. It's perfect for anyone who asked for a kettlebell this holiday season!
SparkPeople: Total Body Sculpting
So far it's made Shape magazine's cut as one of the six best DVDs of the year, and been called the "best workout DVD for a full-body workout" by iVillage. It has something for every fitness level with three 20-minute routines to tone muscles and burn calories. Coming to a Target store near you in January!
Breathless Body 2: The Edge
By far one of the best cardio DVDs I tried last year—maybe ever—this fast-paced, equipment-free workout will really challenge your body with athletic HIIT drills (and no complex choreography). Perfect for all fitness levels thanks to Amy Dixon's smart plan and great cueing.
FuseDance Cardio Melt
I really love Tracey Mallet's teaching style and exercise ideas. I've tried several of her DVDs and they are always unique enough that I never get bored. These workouts are low-impact and use light weights so they're suitable for beginners. If traditional strength training bores you, you'll enjoy these "dancey" toning moves; and if you love to dance but can't handle complicated choreography, you'll have fun (and be successful) with this DVD.
The 8 Colors of Fitness
I purchased this book a couple years ago actually and I found it to be intriguing and accurate. It's based on the premise that we have our own fitness personalities (or "colors") and that we'll be more successful sticking to a fitness program if we are picking the right activities for our personalities. It uses a common personality test to determine your color, then tells you what it means and which activities are best for you. I was skeptical, but I found my own assessment to be SPOT ON. The activities I do are the very kinds of things it recommended—almost to a T. It makes me think that one big reason people fail with fitness is because they pick the wrong things for them. Definitely check it out—also available on Kindle!
BOSU Ballast Ball
I finally splurged and got myself a Ballast Ball this year, something that had been on my wish list for a very long time. What's awesome about it is that it adds a lot of versatility to exercises that use a stability ball. When you lift it, the added weight increases the challenge. When you move it about, the material inside moves, too, creating momentum and instability that makes exercises harder. And even better: You can do all kinds of new exercises with it because it doesn't roll away when it's on the floor. For example: Stand in front of it, then sit down onto it, roll back, perform a sit up, stand back up—and the ball won't even move. It's great for core work and more! BOSU even offers workout DVDs featuring the Ballast if you need more ideas.
DoD Fitness Cushions
I reviewed these products last year, and they are a great solution for people with chronic neck, wrist and knee issues for whom exercise can be painful. If you enjoy Pilates, yoga or other mat-based exercises, but need a little extra cushioning in one or more of these areas to do it comfortably, then these are for you. Available separately or as a full set from the DoD fitness website!
Aria Smart Scale
You've heard of smartphones. But have you heard of a smart scale? The Aria scale is by the makers of Fitbit, so right away, you know it's good. This Wi-Fi enabled digital scale tracks weight, body fat percentage and BMI over time for multiple users. Even by stepping on the scale, it knows who you are and tracks your data. That data is then wirelessly uploaded to your private online account (which you can also sync to your SparkPeople account, if you'd like) so you can see your progress over time. When you reach new goals, you even learn online "badges" and rewards. And I'm a sucker for its sleek, modern design, too.
I bought myself a kettlebell a couple years ago. I love kettlebell training, so this has been a great investment. Yes, kettlebells do cost more than dumbbells, but I also think they are a lot more versatile. My kettlebell is by GoFit (the one pictured), which you can find in 7, 10, 20, 30, 35, and 45 pound weights. The handle is a good size, and the vinyl-dipped exterior makes it a little safer for me to sit down and move around on my hardwood floors. [Note: I do NOT recommend "contoured" kettlebells, which I think lead to greater injury risk than round kettlebells. If you are doing your exercises properly, the bell will never slam into your wrists or body.] You can also find this brand at Target and other retailers if you need to pick something up last minute.
Brooks Green Silence Running Shoes
I run pretty exclusively in Brooks shoes and I cannot wait to try their Green Silence shoe, which appeals to both the runner and tree hugger in me! These shoes are biodegradable once you've finished running in them, and they feature rubber soles, non-toxic glues and more. In fact, it even won an award from Runner's World as "Best Innovation" a few years ago. I'm especially excited that, while many "green" products cost more to buy, this costs no more than my typical running shoes!
What fit gift(s) do you hope to receive this year--or treat yourself to before the New Year?
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