13 Gifts That Fitness Lovers Will Actually Want, According to a Pro Trainer
They definitely don't need another water bottle or protein shaker.
Buying fitness gifts is a balancing act.
You want to give your sweat-loving friends stuff they’ll actually use, but you also don’t want to inadvertently call them out of shape or something, right? And, this year, to add an extra challenge, you can pretty much forget about gifting studio passes or anything that involves stepping foot in a brick-and-mortar gym.
So, although it might feel like your options are slimmer than ever, take a gander through this list of my favorite finds for 2020. As a trainer, I’ve personally tried out—and can vouch for—everything you'll see here. Well, ok, except for a few goodies I’m flagging for my own wish list.
Why it’s a great gift: I love adjustable weights in theory, and this is one of the only options I’ve found to actually be user-friendly in practice (and not tear up my fingers during adjustments). This sleek, digital bell adjusts from 12 to 42 pounds with the press of button, and works great for dynamic moves like swings, rows, get-ups, and cleans. It syncs with the JAXJOX free app for real-time performance stats as well as live and on-demand workouts.
Why it’s a great gift: Is it a free weight? A foam roller? There’s no need to decide! But in all seriousness, this is a great small-space option for barbell lovers. Essentially a super-high-density weighted foam roller with grip-friendly ends, it comes in weights ranging from 11 to 55 pounds. I use the 55 for bent-over rows, squats, single-leg deadlifts, and cleans. When my back is tight, rolling on it always helps.
Why it’s a great gift: A mask might not look like the sexiest gift ever, but for fitness lovers, this one from Under Armour will be. I love how its structured design keeps it secure and fit to my face during workouts without smothering me like most cloth masks do. The moisture-wicking fabric makes running outside, or even venturing into a gym, with a mask infinitely more comfortable.
Why it’s a great gift: I can’t even explain how much, as a trainer, I’ve learned from Tony Gentilcore, CSCS. So the fact that he’s now offering a 12-week at-home strength and conditioning program is just phenomenal. It comes with detailed explanations, cueing, modification options, and ’90s hip-hop references, because Tony’s just cool like that. When you purchase, just make sure to put in the recipient’s email address instead of yours. (Unless you’re buying for yourself, which I wouldn’t discourage).
Why it’s a great gift: My Hypervolt is my best friend, literally pounding the crap out of muscle aches and pains and being an integral part of my pre- and post-workout routines. The percussion device comes with a decently high price tag, but I can 100% say it’s worth it. That’s especially true with the Bluetooth-enabled Plus, which guides exercisers through routines and automatically adjusts speeds for them along the way.
Why it’s a great gift: Full disclosure: I co-wrote this book with Georgie Fear, RD, so I might be a little biased. But since it published in the spring, I’ve been shocked at how many people are gifting it to each other. This book is for anyone who is interested in how fitness, nutrition, and psychology intersect. It smacks down the whole “no pain, no gain,” “running on empty” fitness, nutrition, and weight-loss culture, and helps people identify ways they can give themselves more of everything they need to thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Why it’s a great gift: My home gym runs on music, and why would I use headphones when I can get the whole room thumping with my girl Alexa? She’s also pretty handy as a timer, helping me keep honest with EMOMs and rest periods. Plus, exercisers can download workouts as Skills in the Alexa app, ideal for anyone who really wants to get moving, but isn't quite sure how to craft their own workouts.
Why it’s a great gift: Every at-home fitness practice needs an exercise mat, and for anyone who is sweaty like me, this mat has both a sturdy rubber-grip base and a microfiber towel surface that oddly develops more traction the more you sweat. Bonus: sweaters can nix germs and funky smells easily by tossing the mat into the washing machine.
Why it’s a great gift: Rowing rocks my world, and it does it even harder with this impeccably designed rower. It’s so beautiful, it was actually hard to tucking it away in my home gym (note: it stores with the footprint of a single barstool). All eye-candy aside, it uses water to provide a more real-to-life rowing experience and is equipped with a connected high-definition touchscreen for tracking workouts, stats, and competing in virtual races.
Why it’s a great gift: As a lover of cable systems, I’ve tried out this top-of-the-line number...and drool. The perfect option for fellow cable lovers, especially those who are into personalized tech integrations, the machine tracks your workouts and comes equipped with 17 sensors that can sense, cue, and help correct exercise form. The digital “weight stack” allows for lifting loads up to 200 pounds.
Why it’s a great gift: No matter how much tech comes out, I’ll always track my workouts with pen and paper. This on-theme hardcover book has pages to log six months of workouts, work on goals and motivation, and get ideas on the best exercises to target muscle groups throughout the whole body.
Why it’s a great gift: Year after year, I love suspension training for upping the ante on bodyweight workouts and am shocked that so many people still don’t have their own TRX. The HOME2 is the best fit for the vast majority of exercisers and, conveniently, is the most cost-effective TRX option. Plus, with an entire year of included free access to the TRX App—teaching how to do hundreds of tricked out exercises—it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Why it’s a great gift: This unisex hip pack keeps my gel pouches, headphones, keys, and other fitness odds and ends on me wherever I go, and just looks great. It’s got zipper pockets, a subtle throwback look, and can fit around the waist or across the shoulder. Plus, the price is on point.