I honestly can't believe how quickly this year has gone by, especially considering some of the major bumps my road has had recently. With 2016 right around the corner, I'm getting anxious for the start of a new year that is hopefully going to continue moving me towards a great future! BUT FIRST - we have the always-exciting holiday season upon us, and that means it's time to talk about LAST MINUTE GIFT SHOPPING! Because let's face it - we all wait until the last minute, especially when we're stuck on what to get that special someone!
My Christmas wishlist this year is pretty short: mostly I just want my divorce to wrap up, I want a steady and exciting new job, and I want to be able to live on my own again. Did you get all that, Santa? Mmkay, thanks.
I don't think you have anything in that black bag for me...
But really, those items don't fit under the tree, so to make it easier on my family when they (attempt to) shop for me, I have a second list which is unsurprisingly filled with fitness toys. And that made me realize not a lot of people know what to get a fitness fanatic! Sure there are dozens of lists from all the big retailers, but they want you to buy THEIR products, so I've put together a list of some of the fitness items that have worked for me personally, and other products I have researched and been recommended, to help you make better shopping decisions this year. Especially since we all know us fitness freaks are very picky about our gear!
So here are some of my top picks and thoughts (by category) for this year's last minute holiday gift-a-palooza! Warning: this post is a little long and pic-heavy! Enjoy!
RACE ENTRIES! Seriously, I think this might be the best gift you could give a runner in your life - many of us want to run some really cool events, but often find it difficult to come up with the funds. Make up a coupon or some other cute way to present it, and offer to cover the entry fees for the race of their choice. Or, if you know they're eyeing a particular event or have a go-to favorite, see if you can register them early. Destination races are a great way to gift not only a running event, but a whole vacation package, and I promise you most of us will LOVE IT!
GPS Watches or Fitness Trackers. Modern technology is advancing so fast, there's always some hot new gadget. I'll be honest - I haven't been thrilled with the lower-cost models like the FitBit or the Jawbone UP as they do not offer the range of features I was hoping for, but I've heard great things about the Microsoft Band 2, which has a surprisingly huge range of features for a decent price. You can't go wrong with a Garmin device, either, but they're typically much more expensive.
Running Accessories. There are dozens of running aides available these days, and many of those items are somewhat frivolous. It's hard to tell what types of items are beneficial and which are just another flashy piece of crap. From trial and error, I've found running belts (especially the FlipBelt) to actually be very useful and practical - and they make great stocking stuffers! I'm also starting to run with a reflective vest from Tuvizo that I'm really liking so far as the days get shorter and most of my runs take place after sunset. Other types of reflective and safety gear are excellent ideas, too. I have an Energizer headlamp that has served me well in night races and in evening trail runs; it's adjustable, has variable brightness settings, fits comfortably, and doesn't move around while I'm running!
Subscription Boxes. Really, this is a great option for anyone thanks to the ever-increasing variety of box services available these days. But with as is common with a growing industry, not every newcomer is ready to make the grade. If you're looking for something for a runner, consider the Endurance Foxy Box or the Stride Box, which feature products specifically for runners. I would personally recommend you avoid the Bulu Box, though. It's a big name and seems to be a good bargain as one of the cheaper services, but after several months' of boxes, I have yet to be impressed (see my original review here). Go with something you know will keep impressing your giftee!
FOR GYM RATS
Lifting Gloves. Or wraps, or knee braces, or KT tape, or compression sleeves! If your friends or loved ones love to hit the gym, the best gift ideas help them increase their gainz while also helping to keep them safe! Do a little research on sizing before you buy, though. I love my beautiful Sparkle and Sweat gloves (and wrist wraps) but they definitely are not as good a fit for my hand as my Brick Built gloves (review here)! Loose gloves won't help anyone in the gym, so read reviews for sizing advice or head over to WeightLiftingGloves.com for more information on how to find your fit, plus a full range of products for men, women, Crossfitters, casual lifters - whoever!
Subscription Boxes. Yup, this is on the list again, but I'll be brief this time. I just wanted to point out that Foxy Boxes also has a Gym Goer box (my review here), and that other strength-based boxes such as the WODBOM for Crossfitters are available too! In fact, there are probably more gym boxes available now than there are running boxes, so shop around and I'm sure you'll find the perfect fit!
Nutrition Accessories. Let's be honest - gym rats tend to have at least a heightened awareness for personal nutrition, if not a total obsession. While understanding which supplements your lifter uses may come with a steep learning curve, you can always look for items to help facilitate any nutrition plan. Shakers such as the Blender Bottle are very easy to find, and are one of the most commonly used items in bodybuilding nutrition. Plus, you can never have enough of them! You might also consider a portion scale, especially if your lifter is counting macros or focusing heavily on meal prep. A good scale can take a lot of the guesswork out of meal planning and facilitate a better overall nutrition program.
FOR YOGA ENTHUSIASTS
Yoga Mats. This may seem either too obvious or not necessary ("but they already have a yoga mat!"), but rest assured, if there's someone in your life who loves yoga, a yoga mat is definitely on their list. There are hundreds of beautiful and unique mats available, so take some time to find the right one to suit your giftee's personality or beliefs. Try boutique-y shops like Vagabond Goods, Hugger Mugger, Affirmats, or La Vie Boheme for colorful patterns and mindful businesses. If you're looking for something with extra padding, have a look at the Stillmotion mat (my review here) for a very thick, plush alternative to a standard yoga mat. And if they already have a mat... Guess what? Even yogis sweat! Having a spare or a fresh new mat can often be a blessing when a favorite mat starts to, let's say, show signs of overuse!
Wheels or Props. I didn't realize how useful the right props could be in my yoga practice until I got my hands on a yoga wheel (review here) this past summer, but now I can attest to just how helpful a few accessories can be in developing strength, flexibility, and relaxation in yoga. The YogaFlex wheel has innovative grips on the inside of the wheel, but there are many other types of props as well. The Three Minute Egg offers an alternative and versatile yoga block, shops like Halfmoon Yoga make beautiful and comfortable yoga bolsters, and the Infinity Strap is a great alternative to a traditional strap.
Subscription Boxes. Oh come on, you had to know it was coming. There are a handful of yoga or meditation boxes on the market, and while I've only tried Sapphire Soul (review here), I've also been impressed with what I've seen about the Yogi Surprise and BuddhiBox companies. So, once again, consider a recurring gift that will keep giving long after the holiday season ends!
RECOVERY IS FOR EVERYONE!
Rollers/Sticks. Whether you're running, lifting, or stretching, roller massage is the perfect way to recover and enhance the practice. Rollers come in various shapes and sizes, from the traditional smooth cylinder style available in both soft and hard pressure levels (try M80 for a huge selection of colors), to textured surfaces, to hard narrow roller sticks for more intense massage (like those at TriggerPoint).
Compression Gear. Socks, sleeves, leggings, shorts, tops... Just about everything comes in "compression" versions these days! Compression gear helps facilitate blood flow during both activity and recovery. Innovations in compression and recovery gear, though, are slowly starting to emerge and stand out from the standard fare, including items like the Dr Cool recovery wrap (my review here) that combines ice therapy with compression. Compression gear is perfect for anyone from elite athletes to those just starting their fitness journey, and most compression items fit in a stocking - hint hint!
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! Hopefully you now have some great ideas to give all the fitness enthusiasts on your list a very merry Christmas! I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about products I've mentioned or ideas I've generated, or hear your thoughts on other options! See that comment form down there? USE IT!