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By Nadine Jolie Courtney
Finding the perfect gift for a fitness fanatic (or a new toy for yourself) can be a difficult proposition. Whether it’s running, cycling, yoga or tennis, athletes take their craft seriously — and often have seriously specific preferences for everything from gear to accessories.
So we saved you the anguish of blindly wandering around a sporting goods store by rounding up a slew of incredible, covetable and (most importantly!) highly-rated fitness gifts. From smart water bottles to the best fitness watch, these are our 14 favorite items, guaranteed to get your gym-goer into high-gear (or get a newbie started on the right foot).
Fitbit Versa Smart Watch
An impressive fitness offering from the popular wearables company, the Fitbit Versa Smart Watch offers a slew of activity-tracking goodies — including step-, 24-hour heart rate-, sleep-, calorie-, distance- and female health-tracking. Plus, music playlist storage and sync, Fitbit Wallet for payments, Starbucks and Pandora apps, fitness coaching with on-screen workout, GPS, email and text message notifications and even guided breathing sessions personalized based off your heartrate. The watch lasts up to four days between charges and is also water resistant up to 50 meters, and its built-in sensors automatically start and pause activity tracking, so the fitness enthusiast on your list can get right to their workout.
For running aficionados, it can be difficult to find a run-belt that’s both practical and comfortable: big enough for the essentials but not so bulky it will interfere with workouts. Available in a variety of colors, the Flipbelt fits the bill, featuring a lightweight zipper pocket that goes all the way around the waist, and a slim, snug fit. With four belt openings, the pocket is large enough to hold even the biggest iPhones and Android phones without moving or jiggling, and is also useful for those requiring something to hold non-workout essentials like insulin pumps, lip balm or an ID.
Bose Sound Sport Wireless Headphones
Headphones can make or break a workout (who hasn’t had the frustration of having them fall out, get tangled or die in the middle of a workout?). Specifically designed for strenuous activity, these popular Bluetooth wireless headphones are both sweat and water resistant, have a six hour battery-charge life, stay securely in place during even the most aggressive workouts and respond to voice prompts. Tech writers consider these the most comfortable wireless headphones on the market.
For the committed runners braving the dark and cold to log their miles (and women running alone who could use an extra safety measure), these gloves will help keep them warm and safe. With a long cuff for extra warmth, a reflective palm strip, and a palm pocket for money and keys, these text- and tech-friendly fleece gloves hold one LED light in each, which projects light up to 35 feet. Bonus: they are also great for outdoor yard work or walking the dog at night, or digging through the attic to pack away those Christmas decorations.
lululemon All The Right Places Crop II
These cropped leggings from the beloved workout brand feature a zip-free waistband pocket large enough to store a cell phone, keys or small accessories. Great for a variety of workouts, the high-rise fit features zoned compression — meaning everything stays comfortably and flatteringly tucked in throughout abs, hips, butt and thighs — as well as moisture-wicking, four-way fabric that stays cool and won’t shrink.
Personal trainers can run you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars — which is why the person on your list with lofty fitness goals in the new year is going to love you for gifting them an annual subscription to Aaptiv. The app will give them unlimited access to thousands of workouts and programs, created and guided by world-class certified trainers. All they need to do is download the app, enter their goals, then pick the type of exercise they are looking for that day (from running, to boxing, to yoga and meditation) based on length, intensity and music type, and a trainer will guide them step-by-step through the workout through an audio track. The app brings personal training to them, wherever they are — whether it’s in the gym, outside on a trail or in their living room. Crushing those New Year’s resolutions has never been easier (or more affordable).
Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbell
Save space — and create an efficient, compact at-home gym — with this versatile dumbbell that serves as an entire weight-rack in one, adjusting from 10 pounds all the way up to a whopping 90 pounds. With seventeen different weight settings to choose from, you won’t have a slew of weights cluttering up your space, but will be able to effectively work at building muscle and increasing strength. Weight training is an important part of an effective fitness routine, and having these easily adjustable weights front and center will help ensure you make strength training a priority.
Blast Golf Tracker
For the golfers on your list: This is one of the best golf swing analyzers according to experts like Golf Digest. Blast attaches to your grip and focuses on the timing of your stroke through analysis, coaching, communication and management tools. A Smart Video Capture records videos of the swing, allowing golfers to target metrics such as stroke timing and tempo, and the tracker pairs with your phone, charging wirelessly.
Sugarmat Travel Yoga Mat
The yogi on the go will love being able to leave the bulky mat (which typically weights 3.1 kg) at home and toss this eco-friendly, lightweight version (that weight 1.1 kg) into their gym bag or carry on. Its rubber bottom prevents the mat from moving, while the top is made from an ultra-absorbent synthetic suede that provides more grip the sweatier you get. Sandwiched between is a high-density cushion for joint protection and support. Every mat comes with a cheeky, suede travel bag and can be personalized with a monogram feature.
Saucony Liberty ISO
According to Runner’s World, the best new running shoe this year is the Saucony Liberty ISO, designed with a stretch mesh fit system to adapt to the shape of each runner’s foot. The addition of independent bands that wrap the midfoot help to keep it in place, giving you a firm, secure feel, making these a great shoe for long-distance runners (so the ambitious goal-setter with a marathon on their resolutions list should grab a pair). But wear-testers gave it high marks in nearly every category, so it’s also a smart pick for recreational joggers, walkers and commuters.
Classpass gift card
Give the gift of boutique fitness to friends who love trying new workout trends — from running clubs to spin to strength training classes — but are less enthusiastic about shelling out the chunk of change for a class. Connected to more than 10,000 fitness studios in over 50 major cities globally, there’s likely to be a hub near you (or one you can try while traveling!). With gift cards available in electronic form (and sent right to the recipients inbox) you can choose whatever amount you’d like to give (and get it there STAT if you’re running low on time to send a gift).
TRX Suspension Trainer Kit
A suspension trainer system that uses your bodyweight, TRX’s straps allows for efficient, effective total body workouts anytime, any place — no bulky gym machines required. In addition to an upgrade suspension anchor, door anchor and a 35 page full-color TRX Workout Guide, you’ll also get a mesh bag to take it all with you on the go, for a full-body workout that can be set up off any door, tree branch, rafter, beam or secured elevation point in just 60 seconds. A study published in the journal Human Movement Science found that doing a suspended pushup using TRX bands activated the abdominals 184 percent more than doing a standard pushup. Hello, summer body.
Bonobos Core Shorts
These sweat-wicking — and incredibly lightweight — shorts are bound to be a favorite in your guy’s athletic arsenal: they feature a t-shirt loop (for easy storage when he gets hot during summer workouts), a zippered pocket to store cards and cash, an interior key catch, side vents and a mesh back yoke panel for extra breathability, and an anti-chafe liner. They also come in seven colors and patterns to match your man’s personality, some of which come with reflective designs for those late-night runs.
City Adventurer Backpack
This stylish backpack — made from water-repellent fabric — is designed to go from the gym to the office. It offers five separate compartments, including a padded laptop pocket, a zippered space on the bottom to store your sneakers, an internal holder for water bottles and several internal mesh pouches. It also boasts a hidden external pocket perfect for storing your phone, keys or work badge for quick and easy access on the go. Reviewers love the thick straps that make carrying around heavy items less of a pain in the neck (literally). Plus it’s chic enough to carry to work or bring to post-gym drinks without having to hide it under the table.
Ivy Park Net Bodysuit
Research show that what we wear has an influence on our behavior and attitude — one study coined the “enclothed cognition” to describe the symbolic meaning that clothing can have, and experts say this definitely carries over to the fitness space. Meaning that dressing like Beyonce (instead of throwing on that ratty free t-shirt) may just up your gym swagger. Queen Bey is co-founder of the activewear line Ivy Park, which merges fashion and function for the coolest workout gear we’ve ever seen. (Would you expect anything less?) For the teen or super-trendy active adult on your list, the items in her line are stylish and versatile, including funky pieces like the seamless Net Bodysuit, which also transitions seamlessly from spin (with sneaks and gym shorts) to brunch (with a pair of jeans and boots).