Top 10 Fitness Gifts for 2011

In Fitness by AngelaLeave a Comment

Merry Christmas!images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTJKNvehHHyQRI 2ESIY4lSFy
Hard to believe it’s here, isn’t it?  While you’re out doing your Christmas shopping, admit it, occasionally you buy your gifts with an ulterior motive.  Sometimes you buy your husband a gift certificate to Netflix, a restaurant or the movies…because you know you will benefit from it, too.  Well, fitness gifts can have that reputation, too.  In fact, if you gave a person you love a gift certificate for personal training, even though they say they want to get in shape, isn’t it usually given to the spouse or loved one that you really wish would get healthy/lose fat/insert ulterior motive here?
Of course you do!
Whether you have ulterior motives, you are looking for good gifts to help the ones you love feel better, or you’re just looking for a good deal for yourself for the Christmas and heck, why not treat yourself?  Isn’t one of the best gifts you can give your spouse is taking care of your health?
That said, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 fitness gifts for this year.

2066PS 2

showban.asp?id=4288&img=2066PS 2Foam Roller
If by now, you don’t know why I love foam rollers, you obviously haven’t been reading many of my posts?  Why give yourself or someone you love the gift of a 1-time massage when you can give the gift of daily self-massage?  Foam rollers provide just that.  They break up adhesions, release trigger points, increase mobility and circulation and just feel GOOD!
From Lee Burton, PhD, ATC, CSCS

“Using sticks and foam rolls can be a great way to prepare your body for a more dynamic warm-up or movement prep activity.  These can provide an increase in blood flow or create more extensibility in the tissue which will allow for more effective mobility and flexibility work.  These two pieces of equipment also play an integral role in recovery after a workout to help alleviate soreness, trigger points, or tightness in tissue.  Sticks will provide more isolated pressure over a specific area of a muscle which may be sore due to a trigger point.  Foam rolls provide general pressure which will help increase blood flow, assisting in alleviating generalized soreness after a workout.  Both are self-help techniques which should be part of a both the warm-up and recovery phases of training.”

The Stick

Funny name, but that’s exactly what it is: a stick with rolling individual spindles that increase blood flow and massage the knots out of your body.  These are excellent for those who cannot use foam rollers (like the elderly, those with osteoporosis or the obese)  or those who desire a more concentrated  pressure than the foam rollers provide.
Spikey Ball and Thera-Roll and/or Tennis Ball


These three are along the same lines as the first two, but they provide more targeted treatment.  These items are small and can get into hard to reach places like the rhomboids (in between the shoulder blades), the arch of the foot, in the rotator cuff, the neck, the attachment point of the chest muscles to the arm, etc.  If you’ve ever had a massage, you know that these areas are rife with trigger points and are usually painful. The great thing about all these items is that they are very small, portable and just as effective.
Gymboss Interval Timer

I first found out about this little guy through Martin Berkhan on his Leangains site.  Why do I like it and what is it for?  We all know intervals suck and it’s super easy to take longer than necessary to rest.  Sticking to prescribed rest times in a program (besides tempo) is one of the hardest things to do.  The Gym Boss Timer will beep out your intervals for you after you set them and since it keeps going, you have no excuse not to keep going, too!  Much better than a stopwatch because this is hands free.  You set it and go.

  • Makes workouts easier to plan and execute with more consistency
  • Auto mode repeats intervals; manual mode acts as a countdown timer.
  • 1 or 2 different time intervals can range from 2 seconds to 99 minutes
  • Alarm beeps, vibrates or both in durations of 1, 5 or 10 seconds.

Plate Mates and Fractional Plates
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I love these little gems.  If you’ve ever done the Dogg Crapp 5×5 program or a similar program that has you progressing in a certain way over time, you know that eventually you get stuck and going up 5 lbs. is just too much.  These little guys are magnetic and come in much smaller increments; mine add 1 1/2 lbs.
Fractional plates kg all
The fractional plates break it down even smaller, into 1/4 lb.s, 1/2 lbs, 3/4 lbs, 1 lb, etc.  which is a huge motivation booster because when you are trying to bust through that plateau on your deadlift, squat, row, bench, whatever and you only have 5 lbs, you are going to be stuck at that weight for quite a while.  If you have these little guys, you can see progress almost each and every time you go because you are going up in such small increments, you aren’t stalling!
Bumper Plates
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I know very few gyms who have these and it drives me crazy.  Why? Well for one, I’m a short lady at only 5’3″ and two, I had to completely scrap my deadlift technique and start over from scratch.  What does this mean?  It means that unless I get boxes, and keep stacking them under the plates and bar, I CANNOT practice setting up correctly for a deadlift because the proper deadlift height is the 45 lb. plates.  I’m sorry, but when you’re new to training, you can’t start out with that much weight, and picking the bar up from the floor with 5’s or 10’s is asking for an injury.  Bumper plates allow you to add only 5-10 lbs. per side but they are the same size as 45 lb. plates.  Problem solved. 🙂
Mini Bands,JC Travel Bands and Super Bands


These bands, in my opinion, are indispensable for several different reasons.  First off, bands are the easiest and most portable workout equipment you can use.  They fold up into just about any suitcase, backpack, gig bag, you name it and can you say that about a dumbbell?  Even if you don’t belong to a gym or are travelling and can’t get in your normal workout, you can come pretty close to it with bands.  Here are my favorites for what to do with each:

  • mini bands:

    showban.asp?id=4288&img=6540P wrap around ankles for lateral band walks for glute activation, place around knees when squatting or pressing as tactile cue to keep knees out
  • JC Travel Bands: just as good as the full-length version but smaller and easier to take when traveling. Favorite feature?  The loop in the middle with the knot at the end.  Perfect for shutting in a door or wrapping around a door knob to do rows, pull downs, face pulls, even  bicep curls.
  • Super bands

    showban.asp?id=4288&img=6535: Best way to improve your pullups: band-assisted pullups.  Also great for x-band walks, partner rows, band-resisted squats, RDL’s and even pushups.

Boot Camp Gift Card
Ok, so ANY exercise class can make you tired.  Why not join a class that will leave you feeling energized, enthused and give you results and the tools you need to carry through on your goals in everyday life?  There are a ton of “boot camp classes” out there, and you have to be careful whom you pick.  Align your goals with the instructor; is the instructor there just to collect money or do they have a vested interest in each and every camper and in getting them their specific results?  That’s for whom you want to look. Sure, we usually think of getting these kinds of things for ourselves, but this really can be a great gift.  I just ran a special and had a few people buy registrations to my boot camp classes for several reasons:

  • her granddaughter is home-schooled and needs more “PE”
  • her sister is overweight and doesn’t fit into the gym scene, but desperately wants to lose weight and be motivated by other people
  • A husband bought it for him and his wife so they could get fit together this new year.  She wanted it for Christmas!
  • She wanted a boot camp class in which she could involve her whole family, not only as a fitness experience, but as a bonding experience, so she bought gift cards for everyone!

As you can see, there really aren’t many reasons not to get in on this one, especially if you join them!
Want to sign up for my boot camp classes or give a gift of a class?  Click here, add your class to the cart and upon checkout, write a note in the “note” box specifying that this is a gift! Include the name of the person and their email address and they will receive a special email note letting them know of your gift to them.
In fact, I’ll make it sweeter for you. Enter the code NEWYEAR at checkout and get 25% off each registration.  That is their first week free!
Personal Training Package
The ultimate in gift giving – the gift of fitness. Cliche? Sure, but with good reason.  If you can give someone the gift of one on one time with a personal trainer, or even sign them up with some friends (maybe even including yourself or your family) in on a semi-private group training session, everyone gets in on the experience.  They end up not only with

  • better self esteem and more confidence
  • fat loss or muscle gain
  • better balance, bone strength and mobility
  • a more positive outlook on life
  • Organization and self-discipline that can easily spill over into other areas of their lives
  • a new wardrobe (they’re buying it, not you! 🙂 )

It’s a great option for those who lack the motivation to get in shape, and really need someone right there to show them what to do, help them along, write out the plan for them, and motivate them. But it’s also a great gift for those who are dedicated “gym rats” who might need some training tweaks or want to train with friends or heck, just could use the extra motivation and guidance once a week or so.  In any case, I’ll say this, I would LOVE for someone to buy ME a package of personal training sessions.  So if they have complained forever about losing the weight or changing their bodies, etc., why not help them stop complaining and start getting the results they want?
Become a Personal Trainer!
Do you know someone who would love to be a trainer but they don’t know where to begin or they just don’t have the money?  It’s not cheap, but getting certified is the first step towards helping countless other people ietheir results, be it muscle gain, strength gain, fat loss, increased mobility, athletic achievement or just getting over all healthier and getting to live without pain.  My job as a trainer is so rewarding to me, and especially as I can see how strength training helps those dearest to me, the musicians in pain get over their imbalances and return to playing with renewed vigor and strength, the payoff is priceless.
So, in today’s tough economy, this is a great way to help someone get a job.  If you or someone you know has been thinking about becoming a trainer, go with the best, go with the only one who will teach you how to ASSESS people and build a plan based on proven, science-backed training model, not bodybuilding myth and media hype.  Give them the best, and get them a certification or a specialization through NASM.

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