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Fitness gifts you’ll actually want this year, according to personal trainers

Personal trainers recommend equipment that is lightweight and easy to store 

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 10 December 2020 21:36 GMT
The exercise gifts to get for Christmas
The exercise gifts to get for Christmas (Getty Images)

It may come as a surprise that just one year ago Peloton faced widespread criticism over its holiday commercial, which saw a woman gifted an exercise bike for Christmas.

After all, fast-forward 12 months and a pandemic that has seen much of the world confined to their homes, and an expensive exercise bike actually seems like a perfect gift.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues into the winter and people continue to find themselves with limited or no access to gyms or exercise classes, home workouts have become the norm – and seem likely to stay that way.

Even when it is safe to return to gyms, nine in 10 Americans who exercise regularly have said they will continue with at-home workouts, according to a Future of Fitness survey from health and fitness company Beachbody. 

Unfortunately, one negative of this new normal, apart from the obvious limit on space that comes with being stuck at home, has been the sudden scarcity of mundane workout accessories like hand weights and yoga mats.

It turns out the Peloton husband had the right idea – exercise equipment actually does make a great gift for Christmas.

As for which fitness essentials should be on your list for the holidays, or would make a gift your loved ones would actually want, we asked two personal trainers, who revealed the at-home workout accessories, apps and classes they recommend.

Fitness accessories 

Jump rope, $7.99

According to Teah Bliven, a crossfit trainer and weight-lifting coach based in Washington, DC, a jump rope is high on her list of must-haves for a number of reasons.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“A jump rope is lightweight, easy to store, and it’s a great way of getting cardio without having to go out and run in the cold,” she told us.

Buy here

Resistance bands, $10.95

An accessory that was previously completely sold out, resistance bands are finally finding their way to stores again – which is a good thing, according to Bliven, who said “there are so many exercises you can do with resistance bands it is unreal”.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Buy here

Kettlebell, $15.62

Bliven also recommends investing in a kettlebell for your loved ones this Christmas, as it can replace the barbell they previously used at the gym.

(Getty Images)

“There are so many exercise options you can do with a kettlebell but it’s still easy to store and put away,” she said. “Most importantly, a kettlebell keeps your body conditioned to be under some weight if you can’t make it to the gym.”

As for why she recommends a kettlebell over dumbbells, Bliven joked: “Because most dumbbells are still sold out everywhere.”

Buy here

Sandbags, $29.95

According to Chris Matsui, the director of Fusion Performance, a fitness training company based in New York City, sandbags can make a worthy present because they are a “great alternative resistance tool”.

He specifically recommends the “First Place Sandbag Roll” because it is “preloaded, extremely durable, and super versatile to do all types of exercise from squats, hip thrusters, slams etc…”

Buy here 

TRX, $129.95

With countless exercise machines available, it can be daunting to try to find one that will be the most effective use of your already limited space.


According to Matsui, TRX, a suspension training system, is able to offer a full-body workout without the need for a machine.

“This is a great suspension trainer that you can do pretty much anywhere as it allows you to anchor it,” he said.

Buy here

Foam ball, $22.49

With stress a frequent part of daily life for many people now, tools such as a foam roller, which is used after or before a workout to relieve muscle tension, soreness and inflammation, can be useful even if you’re not working out.

(Amazon )

According to Matsui, this is where a foam ball comes in, which he said “takes it up a notch”.

“If you’re using a foam roller, take it up notch with a foam ball,” he said, recommending one from TriggerPoint, which is described as a massage ball for deep-tissue massage. “It’s an extremely effective way to target your hips, traps, and pecs.”

“I recommend the 5in size,” he added.

Buy here

Hypervolt, $299

If you want something a little stronger, or perhaps, as many of us do, simply want the massage part, Matsui suggests the Hypervolt, a handheld massage gun.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“My clients all LOVE this percussion massage tool. It’s super quiet, long-lasting, and has you feeling great quickly,” he confirmed.

Buy here

Fitness apps and programmes

FitBod, $9.99 per month

Just because you have the equipment to work out doesn’t necessarily mean you have the motivation – or know how to get started.

For those who miss having a personal trainer or following a workout class, or simply need more support, Matsui recommends the FitBod app, which he describes as “an innovative app that uses an adaptive algorithm to build a programme based on your available equipment and recovery from the previous workout.

“As you become stronger FitBod adapts to push you closer to your fitness goals.”

Whealth, $399

Whealth, a programme that teaches users the foundations of a healthy lifestyle, is another option for those who prefer having guidance when it comes to fitness.

“Andrew Dettelbach and his team’s way of articulating complicated subjects matters in a simple palatable format is impressive and it can help coach you to a healthy lifestyle,” Matsui said. “The Whealth startup is sure to be a big hit and full of great informative programs from strength-training to recovery movements to help you feel better on a daily basis.”

Buy here

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