Two Seattle men, Michael Ross and Frank Forencich, each have idiosyncratic takes on fitness, and I know enough about them that I thought I'd throw their latest efforts on top of this year's pile of fitness-related holiday gift ideas.
Ross, a chiropractor and Seattle firefighter, offers "Firefighter Workout," a DVD that emphasizes functional fitness. He leads you through a series of challenging and often awkward movements, occasionally using a 5- or 10-pound medicine ball and traffic cones. Expect your glutes and hamstrings to be sore after all the lunging and dipping and reaching he puts you through. Ross believes the movements mimic real-life requirements. The 45-second work intervals are spaced with 20-second rest periods. ($29.95, www.firefighterworkout.com)
Forencich's second book on functional fitness is titled "Exuberant Animal," which about says it all. Forencich takes an integrated, holistic and anthropological approach, combining our history, culture and biology to cut through the periphery and get to the heart of health and fitness. What I like about his book, as well as his philosophy, is that he strives to help us find the natural joy of movement. He looks at the animal within us. ($18, www.exuberantanimal.com)
Quick gift ideas
While I can't personally vouch for these other things, at least I can offer you some quick ideas:
The CamelBak Bottle is spill-proof and features a closed tip, basically a nipple, that opens when you bite on it and allows you to suck out the liquid; no need to tip the bottle. The hard plastic bottle is available in various sizes and colors. The .75-liter size retails for about $12, the 1-liter bottle for about $14. See www.camelbak.com.
The Fitness Challenge is an eight-week motivation program disguised as a game. Get a partner, pick goals and make wagers. Track workouts, rewarding points as you go. The winner can present the loser with tasks spelled out on "wager coupons" or make a reward yourself. A scoreboard helps you keep track. The game adds the buddy system and a little competition to the daily workout battle. ($29.95, www.fitnesschallenge.com)
The makers of V-Moda Bass Freq and Remix modaphones claim they don't just make your MP3 player sound to the next level, but you look cooler, too. The high-fidelity headphones come in eight colors. "Playlist" raves that the earbuds provide "surprisingly good bass response, richer mid-range than expected, and excellent detail." The headphones are a definite step up from iPod standard issue. Be careful how you use these devices if you're around traffic. ($50, www.v-moda.com)
The Intracell Stick is a deceptively simple device. Well, it's a stick, but designed as a massage tool, a "myofascial release" device. Its makers say faithful, correct use can prevent injuries and improve flexibility and strength. It also purports to disperse lactic acids after activity and speed up recovery. The Stick comes in various sizes and measures of tension. The standard Stick retails for $39.95. (www.thestick.com)
The SLEEPTRACKER is a wristwatch alarm that wakes you up - of all things - early if your body rhythm tells it to. Internal sensors from the watch can detect even subtle signals your body emits. The theory is that you can make more of your mornings. You can set not only the time you want to or have to get up, but also a 30-minute window that allows the alarm to go off early if your body is saying it's ready. All bets are off if you have a sleep disorder or have taken sedatives (including alcohol) that mask your "almost awake" moments. ($149, www.sleeptracker.com)
The NuMetrex Heart Rate Monitor Sports Bra uses a small transmitter that fits into a pocket in the front of the bra's nylon/Lycra band. Textile threads act as conduits to the transmitter, which communicates to the system's wristwatch. It connects to most fitness machines with integrated monitoring devices. See www.numetrex.com for details.