Skip the ugly sweater, nix that stinky perfume and—unless you want to bestow the gift of a big fat behind—definitely say no to the gi-normous bucket of caramel corn. If you're looking for a unique gift this year, something that really shows how much you care about someone, think about giving the gift of fitness.
Here's a guide to help you perfectly match a gift of good health to both the naughty or nice on your list.
For your queen-of-excuses friend who has a million reasons why she can't ever seem to make it to class, give her a prepaid exercise class card. You can buy a specific number of classes redeemable at her favorite studio, so now you've excuse-proofed her workout since it's already paid for. Buy a package of five or 10 classes, or be a total hero and get an unlimited card. Last year, a woman in my Yoga class said the best gift her husband EVER gave her was a year's worth of unlimited Bikram Yoga.
For your low-tech, exercise-adverse mom, get a pedometer. The Surgeon General recommends walking at least 10,000 steps per day, and a pedometer is a fun and easy way to measure every step you take. Prices range from $10 –$30. For more product information, shop Pedometers USA.
For your hardworking, mover-and-shaker brother who can't make time for fitness, give personal-training sessions. Instead of trying to manipulate his schedule to show up for a specific class, he'll be able to exercise one-on-one with his own personal taskmaster and schedule appointments that work around his busy day.
For your adventurous "I'll try anything once" BFF, get her dance classes. From belly to ballroom, two-step to tango, just sign her up for group lessons in her favorite style. Typically, no partner is required.
For your totally fit sister who swears she gets that hot bod without working out, give MBT Shoes. OK, no one will ever mistake the FrankenFootwear for Jimmy Choos, but wearing them is like working out on the down low. They'll improve her posture, supersize her walking regime while minimizing her derrière and still keep her workout a secret.
For your frequent-flyer boss who's always on the road, get FitDeck Exercise Cards. They're a set of playing cards with illustrations and instructions describing over 50 different exercises including cardio, strength and stretching moves. A standard deck runs about $20, and you can choose from any of the eight titles including a no-prop set perfect for exercising in tight spaces like hotel rooms.
For your ultra-competitive frenemy, get cute workout clothes. Since Miss Front Row's motto is "who cares how I feel, as long as I look good doing it," you may as well support her style and buy her some flashy new duds. And even if you're not a gym diva, who doesn't feel a bit more motivated when sporting a hot new workout top or fancy running jacket? For the latest styles, go to Athleta or Activa Sports; they have great looking and functional exercise apparel and accessories.
For the homebound yogi, get a yoga kit. It's kinda like bed in a bag but for yoga practitioners. The beginner kit runs $45 and comes with a mat, blocks, a strap and an instructional DVD. Inner peace not included.
And the gift of health and well-being doesn't have to break your budget. Here are a few stocking stuffers for $20 and under.
A three pack of Dyna exercise bands
A jump rope
Exercise DVDs: Check out Collage Video for descriptions and ratings
Health and fitness magazine subscriptions: The best for overall health are Prevention and Body and Soul. For healthy eating, the standout is Cooking Light, and if you want an exercise-based publication, go for Fitness or Shape.
When all is said and done, you'll realize that you've done much more than just wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year, you'll be the one who helped them get there.
Alicia Villarosa is a regular contributor to The Root.