The Best Fitness Gifts for the Most Health-Conscious People in Your Life
Recovery shoes, running tees, massagers and so much more
Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, InsideHook may earn a small share of the profits.
Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, InsideHook may earn a small share of the profits.
If 2021 has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t put a price on personal health.
We learned more about ourselves and our bodies this year by adopting new ways to manage stress and stay active as part of a greater effort to live longer, more meaningful lives. And we owe these efforts, at least in part, to the many products that helped us out along the way.
Sure, health and fitness products have a tendency to accompany fads (thanks, TikTok), but there exists a number of products that have significant, lasting benefits. They don’t cater solely to gym rats or fitness diehards either, nor will they wind up in your garage collecting dust before you shamefully list them for sale online.
We’ve assembled a list of the best gifts for the person in your life who’s taking stock of their health. Some of our picks focus on improving sleep, others on elevating a workout, but everything here speaks to the person that’s investing in self-care this year.
Fill this 24-ounce Hydro Flask with water or your preferred electrolyte-rich drink. It’s made with indestructible stainless steel and finished with a powder coating to improve grip, plus it comes with Hydro Flask’s well-known insulative properties that keep beverages cold or hot for up to 24 hours. Out of every item on this list, a water bottle just might be the most important product you buy. After all, what are humans but a large sac of water at the end of the day?
Wearing sweatpants on rest days is a right of passage, so why not throw on a pair that’s light, soft and stretchy? These performance joggers feature Vuori’s DreamKnit fabric, a blend of synthetic fibers and elastane that transitions blissfully from around the house to class to travel. The tapered leg reduces unwanted fabric and a zippered pocket at the rear keeps essentials secure.
Bodyweight training brand TRX pioneered the concept of using your body’s own weight against itself to train from just about anywhere. Its suspension system, optimized for portability, sets up in seconds to target your upper body, lower body and core through hundreds of different exercises. For the person who can’t make it to the gym every day or prefers to WFH (workout from home), this is as good as it gets.
Lululemon might as well call these “the only pair of shorts you’ll ever wear” because as soon as you put them on, you won’t care to take them off. With stylish colors and functional features, these do-it-all training shorts are made with sweat-wicking, quick-drying fabric that’s downright perfect for morning runs and afternoon Crossfit sessions. Beyond the standard performance features, Lulu chose an abrasion-resistant fabric that adds a hint of stretch, as well as a comfortable liner that keeps everything in place.
We often forget about the toll that training takes on our feet. After days of running, lifting and constant movement, our arches wind up irritated and soles inflamed, which leads to pain or injury if left untreated. For that reason, we invest in a shoe like the Kane Revive that features blood-stimulating nodes in the footbed and a 10mm heel that promotes a natural gait. Our fitness editor fell in love with this Croc look-alike not only for its health benefits but for Kane’s commitment to sustainability too. The Revive is made from sugarcane-based EVA foam and is 100% recyclable.
Stretching is a core component of any workout regimen, but it’s the one component most of us skip. Realize the benefits of a consistent stretching routine by gifting a stretch band. The soft, technical fiber features ten grip loops to allow for progressive stretching as you grow more limber over time, targeting major muscle groups of the legs, arms, back and core. And for those who don’t know the first thing about stretching, a handy guide will help you get started.
Sure, you could pick up any run-of-the-mill yoga mat at your local department store, or you could gift this sustainable alternative made from phthalate-free material and printed with eco-friendly inks. Its soft, ridged surface pairs with a grippy underside to prevent it from slipping whether you’re actually doing yoga or finding an excuse to lay on the ground. And who can ignore the Pendleton graphics that add a note of sophistication to your happy baby pose?
It only took a free trial with ClassPass for us to understand its growing popularity. The workout class subscription service allows you to try different fitness classes and studios in your area without committing to a membership or paying hand over foot for a drop-in class. Use monthly credits for open workout time at a local gym or sign up for brand-name classes like Barry’s Bootcamp or Flywheel. Even the ClassPass brand offers online workout sessions in partnership with brands like Barre3 and Sh1ft, giving you an opportunity to get fit on your terms.
Staying in shape presents a challenge all its own when you’re juggling work, family, travel and a laundry list of commitments. That reality stood as the catalyst upon which Exerbell was founded. Simply fill the roll-top bag with water or sand to your desired weight, buckle it tight and bust out any number of kettlebell exercises no matter where you are. Interior weight markers allow you to accurately fill the bag up to 30 pounds with sand (or 22 pounds with water), and the design folds flat when not in use to reduce clutter around the home.
Whether you choose to wear a mask out of moral obligation or social pressure, the one you opt for will dictate your workout, when comfort and breathability are key. Thanks to its open-cell foam and Iso-Chill fabric, the Under Armour Sportsmask has become one of our go-to favorites. It’s comfortable over the ears, forgiving around the mouth and fully washable at the end of a long training session.
Allbirds caught our eye in recent months, not for their casual shoes, but their all-new sustainable performance apparel line that includes the Natural Run Tee. Ultralight and breathable, its mesh blend of Merino wool, polyester and Tencel Lyocell rests on your body without sticking to your skin as you sweat. It’s also slim-fitting to reduce unwanted fabric and is one of many carbon-neutral goods made by Allbirds.
You may recall seeing the Theragun Mini in last year’s holiday gift guide for runners but please don’t mistake our repetition for error. Theragun’s downsized percussive massager is still just as perfect one year later thanks to its portable size, excellent battery life and different speed settings. It’s also $400 cheaper than the Theragun Pro and ships with a soft carrying case, which gives you an excuse to haul it almost anywhere.
A cheap pair of training shoes can ruin your run (and your feet), which is why On built the Cloudflow with ultralight foam and a breathable upper to help you train in total comfort. It doesn’t hurt that these shoes, along with On’s broader collection of athletic footwear, have been a major hit this year in the running community, combining style and sustainable materials to deliver an all-encompassing trainer for workouts of any intensity.
Somewhere between a full-length mirror and a personal, holographic instructor, the Mirror system beams premium workouts into the comfort of your home with expert instructors, real-time optimization and custom playlists that let you set the tempo. Designed to add a little spice to the otherwise dull workout routine, this cutting-edge system made a name for itself during the pandemic, when at-home workouts were anything but rare. These days, Mirror is more popular than ever before, which gives you a good excuse to pick one up over the holidays.
Audio powerhouse Beats, now owned by Apple, delivers premium sound for up to nine hours of listening time with the Powerbeats Pro earbuds. That means you could (probably) run an ultra with juice to spare, and the earbuds’ reinforced housing will resist sweat from start to finish. And for times when you’re heading out the door only to realize your earbuds are dead, never fear — a five-minute charge supplies nearly two hours of battery life.
Pair OPTP’s Pro-Roller Arch with a yoga mat and set of stretching bands (both of which are featured in this guide) to round out your home wellness setup. Designed for use as a positioning tool, block or cushion, the U-shaped EVA foam prevents hyperextension of the cervical spine behind your back, or makes for a great spacer between your knees (or under them) to add support through dynamic movements that stretch your body as it builds muscles or recovers from injury.
If you’re the type of person who goes HAM on gifts, this is as good as it gets. The IC Bike Series features online cycling classes, over 50 global routes, micro-adjustable fitness levels and Bluetooth heart rate tracking to help you fine-tune every ride. The stat list for this stationary bike could fill its own book and unfortunately, we just don’t have the space nor the time for such wordplay. Consider this if it’s the only gift you send and don’t forget the wrapping paper.
The steel mace might seem like a new fitness fad, but it’s actually been around for thousands of years. It’s the equipment the Persian warriors trained with and the same one used during WW1 as a melee weapon. But these days it’s used by mixed martial artists engaging muscles of the back, core, legs and arms, helping the body move as a unified whole rather than a series of parts. It’s different, sure, but it beats the hell out of those mind-numbing dumbbell curls.
It wasn’t named after the dopey bear featured in The Jungle Book, but the Baloo Weighted Blanket kind of mimics the sensation of a small bear laying on your entire body, swaddling you to sleep in the best possible way. Numerous sleep studies confirm that weighted blankets increase serotonin and reduce anxiety through deep pressure stimulation, providing your body with the rest it needs to repair after a long workout. Baloo’s manufacturing process is environmentally friendly, and actual bears are happy to support such efforts.
It doesn’t feature the same flashy screen found on most modern smartwatches, but the Instinct makes up for its subdued appearance by way of a bombproof design that’s built to military standards and complete with 14-day battery life. The built-in heart rate monitor and oxygen sensor keeps track of your body through multiple training modes while simultaneously relaying calls, texts and weather updates to your wrist in real-time. Upgrade to the Instinct Solar to boost battery life by 10 days, allowing you to charge the watch in direct sunlight whether you’re hiking the local peaks or running through the heat of the day.
We fell in love with the Mobo Board when we set out on a strange mission to strengthen our feet. An ingenious upgrade to the wobble boards found in most gyms, it helps you build a stable arch by employing a hollow toe box that eliminates the grip supplied by your weaker toes, forcing your foot to build medial strength. The bamboo surface promotes barefoot use as well, allowing you to recruit tiny muscles that would otherwise be stuffed inside a shoe. And while it isn’t a prerequisite for healthy feet, it definitely advocates for better foot care over time.
Including beer on a fitness gift roundup sounds contradictory at first glance, but that’s only until you discover that Athletic Brewing creates award-winning non-alcoholic beer that provides the same sudsy flavors you love without the unwanted side effects. The Connecticut-based endeavor has a star-studded roster of investors, from pro football star J.J. Watt to cycling legend Neil Armstrong, and it continues to see growth as athletes reach for non-alcoholic alternatives. Rather than try one brew at a time, we recommend picking up a mixed case of 24 beers to share the love and find the one that hits the spot after a long run.
Maybe it’s a result of the summer Olympics or an interest in nautical sports, but rowing machines are surging in popularity. While rowers were once used to keep competitive athletes in shape, the technology has since made its way into the home by way of compact, capable options like the Hydrow Rowing MAchine. Its silent flywheel uses a computerized system to generate resistance while a 22-inch HD monitor coaches you through every workout. Hang it up at the end of your session via the upright storage kit to store it away until your next session.
The 5200 Standard might be Vitamix’s base-level blender, but it’s really all you need to whip up healthy smoothies, protein shakes and meals at home. The 64-ounce container is ideal for medium to large batches and variable speed controls to dial in the perfect texture. The blender also comes with a seven-year warranty, which is Vitamix’s way of saying this thing works now and it will for a long time to come.
Blood flow restriction is a useful method of training for those in the midst of recovery. The science behind it suggests that restriction limits oxygen to the muscles, forcing fast-twitch fibers to take over as metabolic stress increases within the muscle. The burning sensation takes hold, tricking your brain into thinking it’s working harder than it really is, which allows for maximal gains through less effort. Science jargon aside, these bands promote muscle growth by limiting blood flow to major muscle groups through the arms and legs. And yes, they really do work.
Toss on a pair of Point3’s DRYV Shorts before you hit the court. The four-way stretch fabric is looser, not unlike traditional basketball shorts, but it’s also tailored every so slightly to reduce unwanted fabric. Improvements over the previous model include absorbent fabric along the hips to keep your hands dry, ventilated side panels to improve airflow and a durable elastic waistband that hugs no matter how hard you go in the paint. Reflective accents boost your on-court presence.
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