Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between late-night fitness commercials and Saturday Night Live.
Shake Weight ads look like dirty jokes that are impossible to describe in this family publication. Commercials for The Rack look like meatheads stunt-riding an old woman’s walker.
If you’re looking to buy fitness equipment as a Christmas gift, it’s probably not a good idea to go the late-night route unless you’re shopping for a gag gift.
Here are some better ideas for giving the gift of fitness:
SUPREME 90 DAY
This workout program feels a lot like the wildly popular P90X program (right down to instructor Tom Holland’s uncanny resemblance to P90X instructor Tony Horton). The program follows the same “muscle confusion” idea but has shorter workouts. The workouts move faster and the program is only a fraction of the cost of P90X, which sells for $120 plus shipping and handling.
FIT BY NATURE
Seattle-based fitness guru John Colver has developed a 12-week workout program that takes place outside. Sure, it’s cold and wet this time of year, but Colver insists that not only will you get used to the inclement weather but it won’t be long before you enjoy these days.
$10 and up, various locations
Yoga is an excellent way to keep your body flexible, ward off injuries, release stress and get a good workout. Yoga studios are scattered across the South Sound offering everything from traditional classes to hot yoga. Almost all of these studios offer special starter packages, some for as a little as $10.
TRX SUSPENSION TRAINER
One of the hottest trends in the fitness world, the TRX suspension trainer has a pair of straps you can attach to the ceiling or door jam to use for strength and cardio training. Simply grab the handles for balance while doing squats. Lean over the handles to do pushups. Lean back to do rows. Or put your fedset in the handles to do core and hamstring training. TRX straps are kind of pricey, so a cheaper route might be taking a class at a local gym. Tacoma’s Bally Fitness offers classes for $10-15. Tacoma’s All-Star Fitness and Olympia’s 5th Avenue Fitness offer classes for its members.
California-based Do or Die Fitness has developed a set of ergonomic foam cushions designed to make working out less painful. Wrist wedges ($20) are designed to reduce pressure on your wrists while doing pushups. A neck circle ($10) helps align your spine for any exercises on your back. And donut shaped cushions ($20) reduce pressure for exercises when you are on your knees. The complete set is $45.
West Bay Paddleboards, Chris Fry’s Olympia-based stand-up paddleboard business, offers what’s arguably the South Sound’s most original fitness classes. Participants do yoga and other fitness activities on a floating board similar to a surfboard. The risk of falling into Puget Sound is always there but Fry says it rarely happens.
THE BOD POD
$30-40, MultiCare (253-459-6999) or bodylogic.cc
A body composition test is a good way to help you set realistic goals. A test will tell you your body fat percentage as well as your lean body mass. Most tests will also come with an analysis of how often and how hard you will need to workout and how many calories you should eat to reach a particular goal. A Bod Pod test simply requires you to sit still for a minute in a large egg-shaped devise while the test is administered.
$40 per hour or more, various locations
A good personal trainer can help you with anything from working out with injuries to making sure you are getting the most out of your workouts to inspiring you to push a little harder than you might on your own. Shop around, however, to make sure the trainer you hire is certified and has a personality that meshes with yours or your gift recipient.
$10 and up, any sporting goods store
Elastic bands are less expensive than workout machines and they provide most of the same benefits and some additional ones – like increased resistance through your range of motion. Bands come in a variety of styles and resistance but they can be used to strengthen any part of your body.
A WORKOUT PARTNER
Sometimes all people need to launch a healthy workout routine is a partner to stand with them as they face the fear of the unknown. Workout classes, the weight room and even the locker room can be intimidating if you aren’t used to them. By offering yourself as a workout partner these fears will get easier for both of you. Also, there’s nothing like a partner to keep you motivated – whether it’s getting to the gym or doing one more rep. The best part about this gift: It’s free and you get to enjoy it too.
Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/adventureguys or twitter.com/adventureguys. Get more fitness coverage at blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure or thenewstribune.com/fitness.