Top 10 fitness gifts for Christmas

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It’s getting close to that time of year again when we start to think about Christmas gifts for loved ones. We spend time selecting awesome gifts, smugly patting ourselves on the back for putting time and effort into the gift-selection process… only to then not follow through and end up panic-buying whatever is left on the sparse department store shelves. Very likely a so-called funky picture frame, a novelty alarm clock or gift vouchers for an amount double what you had originally intended to spend, just to alleviate the gnawing guilt.

No more!!

This is the year you will get your sh*t together and have all your gifts bought, wrapped and stored before the first tin of Roses is opened.

And if you’re looking for some ideas in the fitness arena, have a look at this top 10 Fitness Gift Ideas – from the sublime to the surprising – that should cover most people in your inner sanctum.

1.TRX™ straps
This fitness accessory comes under many guises – like the trusty vacuum cleaner, they can be called TRX straps (the Dyson of the group), suspension trainers, resistance trainers… but they all work under the same premise.

Originally designed by an ex-SEAL (evocatively called Randy), he started using old jiu-jitsu straps and parachute materials to create an early home-made prototype, so that he could stay fit while on the road SEAL-ing. Like many great inventions, the story follows that colleagues requested he make one for them and after a while he realized that there was some demand for this kind of equipment.

The beauty of suspension trainers is that you can use them pretty much anywhere. You can buy versions that are portable so you can bring them with you on business trips or holidays, or you can purchase complete home-based packages that include a few more bells & whistles and extensive instruction and training DVDs. So if there is someone in your life who is an avid gym bunny, or a newbie wanting to get in shape, or a new parent who is going to be more homebound than normal, this is a really great and versatile gift.

2. Back to Basics
It seems that people are getting a bit suspect of new-fangled fitness classes, where you have to wear luminous straps at 4am in a dark room with strobe lights, doing body-bending exercises to House music thumping so loudly that you’re not sure if you’re having a heart attack or it’s just the vibrations from the floor.

And have decided to go back to basics.

And there are a few basic concepts that, no matter what way you package them, will work.

For example:

  1. A combination of aerobic fitness with strength and conditioning is normally the best way to achieve all-over fitness
  2. Doing exercise with correct technique will prevent injury and will guarantee longevity to any exercise program you do and help you avoid “yo-yo” exercising
  3. Getting body-aware so you can improve your mobility and movement is important for your fitness now and into the future

A great gift for someone who wants to get better at their current sport, or start their fitness program with all the right techniques, or who could benefit from focussing on themselves and their overall health and fitness, is a block of Personal Training sessions or vouchers for their favourite class.

There are some amazing Personal Trainers and fitness classes out there that focus on getting you doing exercises correctly, so have a look and see if you could give someone the gift of some me-time and workouts to suit their level.

3. Jane Fonda’s Aerobics DVD’s
As mentioned, one trend that we may see in 2017 is a kind of “return to basics” in terms of fitness classes and workouts. And if any of you owned a VHS in the past, then you are likely to have at one point in your life seen a Jane Fonda exercise tape in your own home or a friend’s (skip to minute 3 for the start of the workout).

And there’s no doubting the success of Jane’s lifestyle choices, as she looks fantastic – healthy & strong – at 78 years young.

So in keeping with the popularity of comebacks in the world these days, many of her workout videos are now available on DVD!

I have to admit, there’s something very soothing about Jane’s classic Hollywood voice, the outfits, ALL the hair, and the cheesy tunes, which put a smile on my face and make me think of simpler times (when we used to have to walk 7 miles to school with no shoes…)

We all have someone in our lives who would enjoy the nostalgia of an old-school fitness video, so definitely check them out.

4. Outdoor gear
Getting outdoors often makes exercise more enjoyable, especially if the weather plays ball. But living on the West coast of a small island that has nothing between it and the vast 6,000km of Atlantic Ocean except for a few Aran islands, this is regularly not the case.

As my nan always said “will you go outside, you’re not made of salt!”, I still bear this in mind when I skulk indoors on a rainy day and procrastinate on going outside for my run. A good jacket, coat or waterproof leggings can ease the pain of going out when it’s raining sideways – at least you’ll look on fleek 😉

5. Fancy pants yoga pants 
The trend of fancy-pants-yoga-pants seems set to continue into 2017, and that’s not really a bad thing. There’s a colour, style or pattern out there to suit everyone, whether you’re into casual workout gear or something a little more athleisure (what a great word ;)).

Recently, there was some media attention on women wearing yoga pants. There was a protest in the US after a man called Alan Sorrentino posited that women over the age of 20 should not wear them, saying that they were “bizarre and disturbing”.

Whatever your view of them, you cannot deny their popularity, and comfort!

And again, the spectrum in terms of cost, fashion and patternage is vast so you will definitely find something for a special person in your life.

6. Fitness breaks
Who doesn’t love a holiday where you get up early every morning, eat a healthy breakfast, spend the day being active, come back to a warm, nutritious dinner and fall into bed with aching limbs and a full belly?

“NOBODY LOVES THAT” I can hear some of you shout.

But surprisingly enough, this is many people’s idea of a great holiday! And there are lots of options both here and abroad that will satisfy the activity-conscious holidayer. The lovely Kathryn Thomas runs the brilliant Pure Results camp in various locations around Ireland, and if you want to go further afield there are options wherever takes your fancy.

7. Rolling and trigger pointing equipment
With many of us taking up sports like running and cycling, or doing high-intensity exercise after a period of inactivity, one thing we can all suffer from is tight muscles.

Time to introduce foam rolling! Again, foam rollers come in many different variations, colours and levels of bumpiness – but they all offer the same thing – allowing you to self-massage sore muscles and relieve that feeling of “tightness”.

You can also use massage balls to target smaller muscle areas, upper arms, chest etc.

So if there is someone in your circle who groans getting up from the couch, or hobbles around for a day or two after a workout, treat them to the joy of self-massage – all the benefits of sports massage without the ickiness of someone else touching you – Yuck!

8. Puncture-proof bicycle tyres
These are definitely going on my Santa list this year. I am a fair(ish) weather cyclist, my main cycling areas are in the city and I use my bike to cycle my daughter to school, go to work or make other short trips around the city. Therefore, speed is not an important factor for me, but getting where I want to go without having to wrestle with a bike tube and a pump for 40 minutes, and then having to get a taxi to where I’m going anyway because the red mist has descended and I have smashed the wheel against the wall, is a priority.

There are quite a few options out there, from puncture-resistant tyres to fully puncture-proof ones that will make any amateur cyclist’s life soooo much easier.

9. Smart watches
So this is a contentious one for me, as my husband recently got an Apple watch and now he lives his life by it. I am a Personal Trainer and have spent months encouraging him to get back to the gym (he loves swimming) to no avail. And along comes the watch, like a scantily clad temptress, and lures him back to the pool in his Speedos, teasing him with rewards of “You have exceeded today’s fitness targets”.

But as much as I am vexed to have been usurped by a wrist-worn electronic device, this is just proof that they really can work.

So if you have someone in your life who has the desire to get off their backside but is lacking the electronic pat-on-the-back for doing it, then a Smart watch might be just the ticket!

10. Hiking boots
Maybe there’s someone in your life who’s not into sports, the gym or organized classes but loves the outdoors. Then give them the gift of supported ankles with a pair of hiking boots.

Hill walking in Ireland is a brilliant pastime – we have so many areas where you can walk, enjoy the views and spend a few hours taking in nature and building your fitness.

And my favourite part?

Finishing the hike in a local pub with a glass of Guinness and homemade soup with brown bread.

The reward is always worth it!



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