Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for fitness

schandler@newsobserver.comNovember 26, 2012 

  • The News & Observer’s Holiday Gift Guide Continues Wednesday: Cookbooks Thursday: Stylish gifts Saturday: Home and garden

For some people, fitness is just a fad (especially in the first few weeks of January, when New Year’s resolutions are still fresh). For others, it’s a way of life. Whether you’re buying a gift for a gym newbie or an elite athlete, there are plenty of products out there to help make fitness a little more fun. Here are some of our favorites, along with some examples of where you can buy locally:

Studio gift certificate

If you want to provide a push out of a stale fitness routine, your gift recipient will flip – literally – for a gift certificate to Cirque de Vol Studios in downtown Raleigh. The “creative movement arts” studio offers out-of-the-ordinary classes such as hula-hoop fitness, ecstatic dance and aerial swing yoga, where sun salutations are done in colorful silks suspended from the ceiling. Gift certificates for any amount; holiday packages and Flex Passes also available. 300 W. Hargett St., Suite 40, Raleigh. 919-615-2484.

Portable massage kit

Hardworking muscles need some TLC, and Trigger Point massage kits do the trick in the comfort of your home. The starter set comes with a ball, block and dumbbell-shaped “Footballer” that target specific points on the body to relieve pain and maximize performance. It’s myofascial release therapy in a compact, portable package. And who wouldn’t ahhh-preciate that? Starter Set is $69.99 and Ultimate 6 Kit is $149.99 at Raleigh Running Outfitters, 7449 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, and 2773 N.C. 55, Cary.

Versatile yoga tote

Yoga helps you let go of what weighs you down, but you still have to keep a few things on hand. The Post Savasana Tote from lululemon is a lightweight but roomy way to tote your keys, makeup, water bottle (unlike your purse, the bag is water-resistant) and anything else you need to handle your yoga session and whatever comes after. Stash your mat through the removable shoulder strap, which can double as a stretching strap. $48 at lululemon athletica, with stores in Raleigh’s North Hills shopping center and Durham’s Streets at Southpoint.

Chic head bands

Keeping your hair out of your face shouldn’t be part of your workout. Sweaty Bands keep a gentle grip on your head while you move your body through yoga, kickboxing, running – even skydiving, according to one customer rave on Sweaty Bands’ website. With hundreds of colors and prints to choose from, you can find a Sweaty Band to suit any style. $15 for thin band, $18 for thicker version at Raleigh Running Outfitters, 7499 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, and 2773 N.C. 55, Cary. Also available at local Fleet Feet Sports stores, Dick’s Sporting Goods and other fitness retailers.

Hot or cold flask

There are a million water bottles out there that can keep your HO cold. And plenty of insulated travel mugs to keep your coffee hot while you’re on the go. But the lightweight stainless steel Hydro Flask can do both. It keeps cold stuff cold for 24 hours and hot stuff hot for 12. So you can take it to the gym and know you’ll have a cool drink waiting at the end of your elliptical time or take it to the office so your coffee will be ready and waiting even after that surprise morning meeting. Comes in a variety of sizes and colors, $19.99 to $27.99 at Great Outdoor Provision Company, which has local stores at Cameron Village in Raleigh and Eastgate Shopping Center in Chapel Hill.

Athletic apps

The MapMyRUN app for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android is perfect for the detail-obsessed fitness nut. From your smart phone, you can keep track of your running route, pace, distance, calories burned and more. You can even post a map and stats on Facebook if you feel like bragging. Upload the data to the MapMyRUN website to get a bigger-picture view of your progress over time. Also available are MapMyRIDE (for cyclists), MapMyWALK, MapMyHIKE and MapMyFITNESS. Free (but no one has to know that).

Jaunty jacket

It’s rarely (some would say never) too cold to run in a North Carolina winter. Pull on The North Face’s sleek Ruby Raschel jacket (for women) and keep warm without weighing yourself down. The jacket has a water- and wind-resistant exterior with an amazingly soft – and thin – fleece lining. $130 at Omega Sports, several area locations.

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