When the pressure is on to find the perfect gift, skip past the trendy thingamabobs that will eventually end up in the donation or re-gift piles, and give your friends and loved ones something they’ll actually use: the gift of good health. From delicious meal plans to the best exercise and recovery equipment, these are the best fitness gifts of 2018.
The Affordable Home Gym
Yes, you read that correctly: affordable. We frequently think of home gyms as baller workout rooms, but you can actually find an all-in-one solution, the TRX Suspension Trainer, for less than $200. The Suspension Trainer offers a full-body workout with a single piece of easily-packable equipment. If you’re shopping someone who wants to stay fit while traveling, this is the gift to give.
But let’s say you a little more budget to spend on a fitness fanatic—the kind of person who’s always searching YouTube and Instagram for newer, tougher workouts. That’s when you upgrade to the TRX Infinity Gym ($700). It comes both the TRX PRO4 Suspension Training System and the core-strengthening Rip Trainer, a 10 lb. Slam Ball, two variable resistance TRX Strength bands, a set of four TRX Exercise Bands, a Buddy Lee Jump Rope, and a TRX water bottle, all tucked inside a durable duffle bag. In addition to exercise gear, it includes a one-year subscription to the TRX App to help maximize all of the tools within the kit.
Meal Planning Service
There are lots of meal planning services that will send recipes and ingredients for meals. Instead of simply solving for the problem, “put food on the table,” PlateJoy uses more than 50 data points to tailor each meal plan to the client’s needs, goals, and lifestyle. Gluten free and dairy-free? No problem. Short on time, cooking skills, and kitchen equipment? They’ve got you covered. PlateJoy even keeps track of the ingredients you’ve used in past meals to minimize for food waste. For those who need groceries delivered, PlateJoy’s system links up with Instacart; no shopping excursions required. Traditional meal planning subscriptions are $69 for six months or $99 for 12 months. Weight loss subscriptions are $89 for three months and $119 for six months.
Fitness is more fun when there’s data involved, and—luckily—there are tons of fitness trackers to choose from. When selecting a gift, picking the “right” one is largely a matter of determining the recipient’s needs and openness to ongoing payments.
If you have deep pockets, and the person you’re shopping for doesn’t mind paying for a data plan for the foreseeable future, Mashable rates the Apple Watch as the best fitness tracker/smart watch combo. (The Series 4 with GPS and Cellular is $499, and the data plan for it is about $13 per month, depending on the mobile carrier.) If you’re looking for fitness tracking without the extra apps, the FitBit Charge 2 ($129.95) has a heart rate monitor, multi-sport modes, guided breathing sessions, and interchangeable bands. For a smaller option with the same functionality at FitBit, plus Alexa interface, try Motiv—a sleek, minimalist tracker ring for $199.
Nothing distracts from a high-intensity workout more than snagging your headphone wires during reps or running. With Bluetooth-enabled headphones, wire tangles are a thing of the past. If you’re only looking for sound and minimalism, Apple’s Airpods ($159) are sleek, and they reliably stay in place during activities like running and jumping. Should one fall out, the music immediately stops, so there’s no reason to worry about losing one.
If you’re shopping for a model that feels slightly more secured, the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones ($150) are a solid bet. These Bluetooth earbuds are connected to one another by a wire, and they sink with Tile tracking app in case they’re misplaced. An extra fitness perk? This model has a built in heart rate sensor.
Athletes wear compression sleeves to increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, leading to faster recovery. If you’re looking to give the gift of less soreness this year, consider Lorpen’s Compression Calf Sleeves, ($30-35, for both men and women), which are among the most popular options on the market. For upper body compression, try Suresport’s Compression Sleeves, ($13). In addition to improving blood flow to the heart, both offer a welcome dose of warmth on otherwise chilly days.
What do get for the person who’s big on fitness and short on space? Apps!
Fitness buffs love the TRX App because it features challenging workouts created by the best fitness pros in the world. (For less than $40 annually, it’s more cost effective than a gym membership or boutique fitness classes.) While the app has tons of workouts using TRX equipment like the Suspension Trainer, it also has programming for cycling, running, flexibility, and HIIT workouts. A word to the wise: if you’re planning to purchase a Home2 or Pro4 Suspension Trainer as a gift, that purchase will come with a year’s access to the app. This gift idea is better suited to someone who’s has a Suspension Trainer for years, or wants equipment-free workouts.
For folks looking to track diet and exercise in one spot, MyFitnessPal is a popular resource for logging wellness data. While there is a free version of the app, the company launched a premium version in 2015 for only $50 annually, (or $10 monthly). More than just tracking calories, the premium subscription breaks down elements like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and macros: save this gift for the person who’s serious about tracking their food.
Finally, for someone who needs help with chilling, consider a meditation app. Calm—Apple’s 2017 App of the Year— offers free and premium versions that can help with stress relief, mindfulness, and sleep. An annual subscription is $60, and it comes with daily meditations, soothing music, and lots of bedtime stories.
Looking for small, under $10 options to toss in a stocking? Pick up a bag of Epsom salts. Your local drugstore should carry a few options under $5, but we like the Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts Solutions with soothing scents like eucalyptus or lavender. They dissolve easily to help the body recover after a workout, and both scents are soothing before a good night’s sleep.
Also in the under-$10 range: TRX Exercise Bands. They’re great for toning glutes and abductors, and all four sizes are only $4.95 each. If you feel like splurging, you can buy a set of four bands ranging from extra-light to heavy resistance is only $14.95.
Another wallet-friendly option? The yoga therapy ball ($6). Similar to how you might use a foam roller, this small, rubber ball can be used for myofascial release massage to target smaller muscle groups. It’s particularly helpful for hands and feet, and it travels easily to help treat muscle tension on long flights or car trips. For an even cheaper solution, pick up a lacrosse ball; the weight and density is similar to a yoga therapy ball, and you should be able to find a lacrosse ball for less than $2.
Whether you choose to splurge or stick to a modest purchase, fitness gifts are a way to show friends and loved ones that you care about their health and wellness. A heart-healthy gift that comes from the heart? That’s a holiday win.