Here's a countdown of the top 10 Christmas fitness gifts for fitness lovers and gym rats, with an appropriate personality attached to each one, just for something extra:
#10: Resistance Bands for the Powerlifter
One of the most commonly suggested and easiest to buy fitness equipment pieces on the market today are resistance bands. Not only are they inexpensive and durable, but you can wrap them up in a nylon bag, and give them to friends and family as a stocking stuffer. Initially, I thought about leaving resistance bands off the list because they are so commonplace, but you really cannot beat the versatility, and I'm all about versatility.
9. TSLA Athletic Shoes for the Instagram Fitness Influencer
You see every "fitness influencer" on Instagram repping clothing like it's the last day on earth. So while this recommendation may not make them shut up, it may be something they will actually enjoy and use.
If you have friends that are runners, you know they absolutely tear through running shoes. For weightlifters, powerlifters, Crossfitters, and others, athletic shoes are extremely helpful for basic weightlifting movements, general lifting, running, plyometrics, stepping, etc. Normally, a shoe that grips the ground is better than a shoe that has a slick sole or little traction.
I have found that TSLA (or Tesla - no, not the car company!), a little-known brand sold on Amazon, are some of my favorite minimalist athletic shoes. Not only are they extremely affordable, but they have some of the best grip of any athletic shoe I have worn to date. AND they come in a variety of snazzy colors for your favorite Fitness Influencer or weightlifter just starting their training.
Minimalist shoes are extremely effective for feeling the ground beneath your foot and establishing better balance. You have a higher likelihood of being well balanced by having little to no cushion between your foot and the ground, compared to a traditional tennis shoe which have an inch or more of cushion between your foot and the ground.
Having used minimalist shoes for years now, it is now extremely hard for me to maintain good balance on traditional cushioned tennis shoes, and I would only recommend minimalist shoes to anyone in the running, weightlifting, or training space.
TSLA is not the only brand that sells minimalist training shoes, but they are one of the best value I have found to date.
Get your friends and loved ones a great pair of versatile athletic shoes for Christmas, and they'll be thanking you for years to come.
8. Earbuds for the Silent Types
Ever see those guys at the gym sitting in a corner with earbuds or headphones silently waiting for their next set? Yeah, this is the gift for them.
Earbuds are one of the most commonly destroyed pieces of gym equipment when working out. They fall out, you drop a dumbbell or barbell on them, you accidentally lose them, they get tangled and then short out, they stop working, or they short circuit all on their own.
High quality earbuds are a rarity in gym circles, people usually buy a cheap pair of SkullCandy earbuds and go to town, only to have the things break on them in the gym (believe me, I've gone through a few pairs).
When buying earbuds, you want something low-profile that won't fall out of your ear during a workout, but sounds great, is sweatproof, and has a long-lasting charge.
Jaybird makes some amazing earbuds, and Beats by Dre also make some bass-pounding buds that are wireless and are sweatproof.
Earbuds with a loop that go around your ear will be the most secure type for working out. Checkout these around the ear earbuds below for some great earbuds!
7. Cable Pulley System for People Afraid of Weight Training
Trying to get someone into resistance training but think they are too scared to make the plunge? Want to get them something that isn't as cliche as resistance bands? Try a cable pulley system!
Not only does this system allow you to do everything that a $5000 cable pulley system can do, it's super versatile, compact, and can be stored away when not in use. You can add standard plates OR Olympic plates to the loading pin, and even chain two of these pulleys together for a full-body workout.
Check out this article for just a FEW of the MANY exercises you can do with a cable pulley system.
Once the person you are gifting this to has progressed in their strength journey, you can attach this system to a squat rack, pull-up bar, or any load bearing object, and do even heavier workouts with different types of attachments.
This is one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE pieces of gym equipment, it's SO incredibly versatile, compact, and user-friendly. Get one below!
6. Fitness Tracker Watch for the Fitness Analyst
Know someone who counts every calorie, macro, and step? This is the gift for them. From sleep tracking, GPS, heart-rate monitoring, step counting, and more, a fitness tracker can do it all for the active lifestyler in your circle. Fitness watches are fancy, fashionable, and more importantly, affordable.
TomsGuide outlines a few of the best fitness tracker watches here, but there are almost literally hundreds to choose from these days. Make sure you choose a fitness watch from a reliable manufacturer that can last several days without a charge.
NOTE: I am NOT a fan of the Apple Watch due to battery life and locking you into an ecosystem. However, for some people, the Apple Watch blends the active lifestyle seamlessly with Apple products, and may work well for some.
Best brands in the fitness watch space are Fitbit, Garmin, and Samsung.
5. Smart Exercise Bike for the Exercise Masochist
Before any of you go saying "Peloton is the best!" let me assure you that this is not an ad for Peloton. Not only am I not impressed with the build quality of Peloton bikes, really the most appealing part of Peloton is the training programs and subscription service, which can be purchased independently of the bike.
Also, if you are riding a bike, any bike, for cardio, let's just all admit that you enjoy pain.
Do you really want a good piece of advice when purchasing a "connected" ("smart") exercise bike? Get a regular spin bike, and then buy a subscription service so you can ride with other people, an instructor, or in different outdoor virtual environments.
Barring that, however, if you want a truly connected, integrated experience, one of the best connected/smart exercise bikes for most people is the NordicTrackS22i. Built with an integrated touchscreen and a year of iFit training, this gives you a smart exercise bike with built-in programming. Not only that, but NordicTrack has this bike rated commercially, which means it should last far longer than many residential grade exercise bikes!
For those of you who might prefer more of an economy option, where you can buy the bike, and purchase a subscription for a friend later, try our entire line of cardio equipment, spin bikes, and exercise bikes below.
4. Adjustable Weight Bench for the Bodybuilder on "Creatine"
Are you tired of hearing how your bodybuilder buddy just can't get enough of a bicep pump with the crappy equipment at the gym? Are they constantly looking in the mirror to determine whether they are swole enough?
Then this might be the perfect present for them. The bodybuilder in your life can hit every muscle group with an adjustable bench, instead of just laying on the floor sobbing about how they aren't big enough.
A fully adjustable weight bench that is high quality, durable, and has enough capacity for even the heaviest lifts can often be hard to find at a reasonable rate, especially with recent price hikes, and the craziness of shopping around the holidays.
When you're looking for an adjustable bench you want a weight bench that has grippy vinyl so the lifter won't slide off the bench during a training session, a ladder style (instead of pin-lock in place) adjustment for the back seat is preferred for stability, and something that is commercial rated to at least 800lbs, with a minimum of 11 gauge steel construction creates an indestructible bench that will last for years.
Freedom Fitness Equipment offers a bunch of commercial grade benches at great rates, but you can also find benches on the used marketplace like Facebook, Craigslist, and Offerup, if you know what you are looking for!
3. Smart Rowing Machine for the Secretly European
Does your friend like drinking tea, wearing top hats, and raving about the latest thing the Royals are doing at Buckingham palace? Then a rower might just be the best gift for this special person.
A smart/connected rower allows the user to program different workouts in an interactive environment. Rather than a bland black and white LED screen, a fully interactive touchscreen on these smart rowers allows you to row through rivers, lakes, play different games, race your friends, row with an instructor, or just try competing against yourself for time!
A smart rower really makes the entire rowing experience far more fun for the user, and gives someone an incentive to keep going back, instead of dreading their next cardio session. This is the main attraction of smart/connected fitness equipment.
One of the best versions of this smart rower is a brand called Aviron. Coop, from Garage Gym Reviews, just gave it one of the highest ratings in terms of how it "gamifies" the fitness experience, and he doesn't even care that much about playing games during a workout! It really sucked him in.
Check out his review here.
2. Nuobell Adjustable Dumbbells for the Home Gym Nut
Home gyms are notoriously tight on space. Most don't have an area for a full rubber hex dumbbell set.
Enter Nuobell, one of the best adjustable dumbbell sets on the market. Reviewed by countless Home Gym Review sites, and lauded by the Home Gym community, these dumbbells have been able to stand up to even Powerblocks!
The biggest benefit of Nuobell is that they function exactly like a pair of regular dumbbells, allowing you to rest them on your thighs when going for a heavy set, instead of awkwardly holding them mid-air, causing physical fatigue mid-set.
Granted, Nuobell is extremely pricey. But there are alternatives!
Nuobell too expensive? Try a 50lb (per handle) set of dumbbell handles with standard plates, much more affordable, very compact, and with a fully knurled handle for maximum grip. You can even expand these handles up to 110lbs using 10lb standard plates. This is one of my favorite recommendations for beginner lifters who are just starting out with their home gym setups. You can use these for years before you even think about upgrading to a fixed set. And for compactness and durability, these really cannot be beaten.
1. Olympic Barbell for the True Gym Rat
Let me explain to you why a high quality Olympic barbell is the absolute best gift you can buy someone:
If you are someone who enjoys resistance training, considers themselves a "gym rat," works out weekly, and is dedicated and goal-driven, a high quality barbell is the starting point for you in your strength training journey.
If someone is just now starting their home gym, a barbell is the perfect gift because it is the most basic, yet most essential piece of gym equipment for the weightlifter in your life. Want to be the envy of every home gym owner in the country? Buy a power bar or Olympic bar, commercial rated, maybe even in stainless steel and have people drooling over your setup for years!
Also, you just can't have too many high quality Olympic barbells! Some of these Home Gym Review sites have 40-50+ bars in their home gyms at any given time!
If a brand new Olympic barbell is out of your price range, try our line of high quality used commercial grade bars available on our storefront here.