The thing I love most about my job is the people I meet. The gym is home to all sorts of people, each with a unique personality that often reflects their training style. In my experience, though, they can all be neatly placed into one of two categories: those who (sigh)...go to the gym, and those who GO TO THE GYM! The following gifts will go a long way toward turning the former into the latter, while further cementing the resolve of the already devoted.
The At-Home Bodybuilder
Unless you live on the Bridle Path, chances are space is at a premium in your home gym. This is why I love Fat Gripz ($39) – slap these small rubber sleeves onto a dumbbell (or barbell, or pull-up bar, or kettlebell … pretty much any implement with a handle) and you've got a whole new challenge without having to double-down on equipment.
By increasing the diameter of the bar, you force greater muscle activation in the arms, giving new life to those piddling 20-pound weights you thought you outgrew.
The Lone Wolf
As someone who makes his living teaching others how to lift weights effectively, I encourage everyone to invest in a personal trainer, especially when first embarking on their fitness journey. That being said, some folks want to lift and learn on their own. For these solitary individuals, the Renegade Strength Club is a godsend. Created by renowned fitness guru Jason Ferruggia, members have access to a variety of kick-ass professionally-designed programs, video tutorials, meal plans and an online coaching forum.
The Jacked Geek
Given that many of us meatheads were first inspired to take up training thanks to our childhood superhero obsessions, it's a wonder more fitness equipment companies aren't taking a page from Onnit's book and obtaining branding licences from Marvel, et al. From Captain America shield barbell plates ($177.95 U.S.) and Spider-Man battle ropes ($134.95) to Star Wars kettlebells ($199.95) and Han Solo yoga mats ($64.95), if you've got a geek who lifts on your gift-giving list, look no further.
The Road Warrior
Anyone who travels on the regular knows how hard it is to get in a good workout on the road. Hotel "gyms" usually offer nothing more than a treadmill, a cable pulley machine and/or a random assortment of mismatched dumbbells. Toss a Jungle Gym XT ($119.21 Canadian) or its cousin, the TRX Suspension Trainer ($199.95) into your suitcase and you'll never have to suffer through a sub-par session again. Secure the system to a door and you can do pretty much any exercise. Suspended push-ups, inverted rows, body saws and tricep extensions are my personal favourites.
The Stress Case
We live in strange, stressful times. If, on top of familial and professional obligations, the impending threat of nuclear doom is keeping you and/or your loved ones up at night, some guided meditation could be the answer. After all, mental health is every bit as important as physical health. I'm a fan of Headspace. The free app delivers a 10-day crash course in meditation basics; from there, the subscription service ($12.99 [U.S.] a month) goes even deeper, offering meditations to aid with anxiety, stress and sleep. They even offer a Meditation for Kids service, because you're never too young for an existential crisis.
The Pavement Pounder
Running is great, but it can be lonesome and boring for all but the most stoic among us. Fortunately, this golden age of gadgetry has produced all sorts of novel ways to pass the time while getting in your miles. Take Knuckle Lights ($39.99): If the prospect of ensuring safe passage on night runs isn't enough to intrigue you, you can pretend you're a killer robot with laser hands! And how about the new Fitbit Ionic ($399.95)? It's water-resistant, offers personalized coaching and programs based on past performances and has storage for more than 300 songs, songs you can listen to with your Jaybird RUN wireless headphones ($179.99 U.S.). With all this fancy stuff strapped to your body, you'll almost forget how much you hate running! Almost.