christmas gifts

A Fitness Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for Fitness Lovers

by Evelyn Valdez

Do you have a friend or loved one that looooves working out?

We're here to help you find the perfect gift for them, whether it's the holiday season, Valentine's day, or their birthday! Because if there's anything a gym-goer loves it's fitness gear. 

It's okay if you don't understand their love for fitness (or maybe you do) because we're going to help you score the perfect gift for your fitness fanatic friends! We've put together a list of inexpensive fitness gifts that any fitness lover will love!

Resistance bands

Free weights are a weightlifter's best friend, but they're extremely expensive! Get the next best thing - resistance bands! These bands are inexpensive, lightweight, portable, and extremely versatile.

Short bands can be used for lower body workouts and glute activation exercises. Long bands can be used for flexibility training, warm-ups, superset workouts, and even make a great placeholder for dumbbells. The best thing about them is that they can be used in addition to your gym workouts or they can be used for when you're busy and need a quick effective home workout but don't have a home gym. 

If you have a friend who lifts heavy or is just starting out on their fitness journey, a set of resistance bands makes for a great, inexpensive gift! For your heavy weight lifter friend, we recommend a set of UPPPER's Long Resistance Bands so they can use for flexibility training, warm ups, and supersets. If your friend is a beginner we recommend a set of both Long and Short Resistance Bands to help get them started on their weight lifting journey. Our bands come in a custom cotton blend and feature a non-slip grip so they never move around and won't rip or tear like latex resistance bands.

A barbell pad

barbell pads

This is one piece of equipment most don't think about, but it serves as a massive help when training with heavy barbells! You'll definitely catch your loved one by surprise with this fitness gift, and they'll be thanking you once they use it! 

Barbell pads are made with high-density foam padding that acts as a cushion between the body and the barbell. Barbells can weigh up to 45 pounds and if you add weight to them, it can weigh up to 300+ pounds! That's a lot of weight to carry on the hips or shoulders when doing exercises like squats and hip thrusts, and doing those without a barbell pad can cause some unwanted bruising. If your friend loves leg day then this makes for a thoughtful holiday gift! The cushioning on the barbell pad will help to provide relief to the back, neck, shoulders, and hips when training, and it will minimize bruising as well!

What to look for when buying a barbell pad:

  • Full coverage: There are various different styles of barbell pads, the most common are the ones with no cover so it's just an exposed foam pad. The other is with a cover (typically polyester or vegan leather) around the foam. Typically the ones with some type of material wrapped around the foam are more durable, comfortable, and can be easily washed. The wrap will also prevent the foam from soaking up any moisture.
  • Strong velcro: There are some barbell pads that have no way to secure the pad to the bar. There's simply an insert on the pad so it easily pops on and off the bar. This is convenient, but not the safest or best option. Look for one that has straps to secure on the bar, preferably a strong velcro to ensure it doesn't slip around.
  • Material and thickness: This is probably the biggest thing to look for. You want a pad that is going to act as a cushion between a barbell with 100+ pounds on it, and the neck, shoulders, and hips. Look for one with extra thick foam, made from rubber and/or foam material, and make sure it's long enough that it will cover the entirety of the neck and shoulders. Some tend to be short, but you want to make sure it's a good length so that it gives you the neck and shoulder support you need.
  • Affordability: When it comes to affordability, instead of going through Amazon's endless list of options, check out our Barbell Pads! They are beautifully crafted with comfortable vegan leather, a thick foam pad, and a secure velcro lining for maximal comfort!

Lifting Gear

Some new leggings are nice, but do they help give support so your friend is able

uppper lifting belt

to lift heavier? Probably not, but lifting belts do! Lifting belts are worn around the waist and provide support for the spine to help stabilize it and to prevent back hyperextension and any other bending and twisting that can lead to injuries. This makes for a great gift for your strength training buddies who are training to build muscle! It will help them not only to lift heavier, but to help minimize their risk of injury, stabilize and reduce stress on the spine which in turn can relieve lower back pain, and provide a sense of confidence and security.

Although there are expensive lifting belts, there are a few budget-friendly options. Leather lifting belts tend to be more expensive, but there are other options that are just as good, like vegan leather or nylon belts. To find the best lifting belt look for one made out of high-quality material (like vegan leather), breathable, double or single prong for security, and enough thickness so it's durable and stays put when lifting. 

Another great tool for your lifting buddy is lifting straps and wrist wraps. Unlike lifting gloves, these bad boys help support your lifts, not just reduce the risk of blisters. Here's how...

  • Lifting straps: They are designed to protect your grip, and help reduce grip fatigue, to allow you to hold and lift heavier weights without them slipping out of your hands. Commonly used for pulling movements like deadlifts and rowing exercises.
  • Wrist wraps: Unlike lifting straps, these only wrap around your wrist, not around your hand. They are designed to add compression around the wrist to help protect it and to provide stability without limiting the range of motion. Wrist wraps will allow you to push heavier weights for overhead exercises like the shoulder press and bench press.

The best gifts are ones that actually support and help lifters achieve heavier lifts to build muscle and strength safely. A lifting belt or a pair of wrist wraps and lifting straps will really wow your fitness-loving friend, especially if it's UPPPER Fitness Gear 😉 

Yoga mat

Yoga lover or not, any fitness lover would appreciate this fitness gift! Yoga mats, although mainly used for yoga, can also be used for other exercises that require laying on the floor, like ab exercises, glute activation exercises, push-ups, and more. Plus, with the current pandemic, it's ideal to take your own mat to the gym instead of using the ones provided. 

What to look for when buying a yoga mat:

  • Texture and grip: The texture of the mat will control the amount of traction it has. Typically a bumpy texture is ideal so that the mat is grippy and keeps it from sliding around. Smooth mats are also good, but make sure it has a feature for moisture control to minimize the chances of it slipping around.
  • Material: The material will determine the texture, sponginess, and stickiness. Most are made of either vinyl or rubber, so pick the one that might suit your friend's needs the best. Vinyl mats are long-lasting and often used for yoga classes. Rubber mats typically have jute and cotton in them to make them more eco-friendly, but they tend to be less spongy.
  • Thickness: Thin yoga mats (1/16-inch thick) are ideal for yoga lovers that practice balance postures and prefer a stronger connection to the floor. The only downside is that they provide less cushioned support. Thicker mats (1/4-inch thick) are ideal for those practicing today that require postures that cause your bones to dig into the ground, or for those using it for strength training and core work.
  • Affordability: We did say this is going to be an inexpensive list of gift ideas... Luckily, stores like Target, Walmart, or Amazon offer mats that range from $10-50 and come in a variety of colors, patterns, materials, and thicknesses. A "happy medium" option is Gaiam, they offer a wide selection of mats that range from $21-90 online. Also, look at reviews to ensure you're getting your friend a decent mat that they will love!

You can also throw in an absorbent/moisture-wicking towel and mat cleaner so your friend keeps their new yoga mat in top shape!

Foam roller

Cardio lovers, yoga lovers, lifters, and athletes of any kind can benefit from one of these bad boys! Foam rollers are used for warm-ups to help increase tissue elasticity, range of motion, and circulation. This will help your fitness-loving friend to move better during their workout and minimize the risk of injury. They are also ideal for recovery. Using it after workouts helps stimulate blood flow in the muscle group that was worked and increases oxygen to the sore muscle fibers to help reduce recovery time. 

Trust us, this is one piece of equipment your friend absolutely needs, no matter what type of training they do! Luckily, they're fairly inexpensive and typically range from $10-40. There are high-tech ones that are more expensive (like the Theragun) but a simple one that is cylinder shape and made of foam or flexible plastic does just the job! Aside from that, there are two things you should consider when buying a foam roller:

  • Size: Long rollers (typically 36" long) are great to use on larger areas of the body like the back, quads, and other leg muscles. To target smaller parts of the body, like the arms, calves, and other small areas, look for a shorter foam roller (24" or smaller).
  • Smooth vs textured: Foam rollers often come in two surface options, smooth or textured. A smoother texture is a great stepping stone for those just starting out with foam rolling. The smooth surface will allow for even pressure across the length of the massage, and they're also typically less expensive. A textured surface is ideal because the bumps provide a deeper massage that can help soothe really tight muscles.

Shaker bottle

Is your friend trying to build serious muscle? 

Then chances are they're drinking protein powder and other supplements before or after every workout! Support their muscle-building goals by getting them a shaker bottle that they can take on the go for whenever they need a quick protein fix. These bottles are pretty inexpensive and easy to find anywhere, but if you want to get a good deal and make this Christmas gift even better... Check out 373 Lab Supplements, buy any of their supplements (made with only the ingredients you need in effective doses), and get a free shaker bottle! So, you can get your friend supplements for their goals and a bottle to go with it!

Weighted jump rope

This is something both cardio lovers and lifters will enjoy! Jump ropes are great as they are, but having a weighted rope combines cardio (requiring jumping, speed, and agility) and strength training at the same time! So your friend will get a cardio workout while at the same time engaging upper body muscles like the traps, back, shoulders, and, even core muscles!

They often come in various weights, the most common are 1-2 lbs. Don't be fooled, that minimal amount of weight is super challenging and will have your friend working up a sweat! You can find great, affordable options on Amazon that range from $15-25!

Versatile gym gear

If you know the sizes of your loved ones and what their favorite brands are then you can't go wrong with some workout clothes! Get them versatile athletic wear pieces that they can even use outside the gym, like joggers, t-shirts, sports bras, dad hats, a cropped hoodie and biker shorts, to name a few. If your friend's a runner you can also get them a pair of running shoes!

Smartphone Armband

Carrying around a phone while running or at the gym can be a real pain, so although this gift sounds simple, it's actually quite effective. Not everyone has a smartwatch or fitness tracker that can easily be carried around at the gym or when running. In fact, most runners and gym-goers still use their phones to listen to their music while working out! Getting your friend a gift like a Smartphone Armband will help make their workout less of a pain, and more enjoyable!

When looking for an armband, you want to make sure you get the right size for your friend's phone. Another thing to look for is that it's water-resistant to ensure their phone doesn't get all sweaty. Also, look for one with one or two pockets to fit any other small essentials! You can find Smartphone Armbands on Amazon, or any other retail store like Target.

Gym bag

You can’t go wrong with a gym bag! They are essential for anyone who goes to the gym. They serve as a great place to store workout clothes and running shoes to change into, fitness equipment, water bottles etc. Plus, you can combine it with other smaller gifts by placing a few other things in it like hair ties, a water bottle, or even a pair of UPPPER Ankle Straps!

There are two kinds you can get: a duffel bag with compartments to place shoes and sweaty clothes separately or a drawstring bag for smaller stuff like resistance bands. If your gym-loving friend commutes to the gym from work then look for a duffle bag that features multifunctional pockets separate shoes and other dirty items from the main bag. If your friend only carries smaller gear then opt for a drawstring bag or even a trendy fanny pack! You can find all types of inexpensive gym bags on Amazon or get a durable one from Nike, Adidas, or other fitness gear stores!

Meal prep containers

Workout equipment, accessories, and gear aren't your only options! A huge part of fitness is nutrition which means that your gym-loving friend most likely follows a diet plan or meal preps during the week. Gifting them a set of new glass meal prep containers makes for a great present! Glass containers are eco-friendly, microwave safe, easy to clean, and most importantly, they last long. They also come in various shapes and sizes that will help your friend easily portion out their healthy meals and snacks. Fortunately, containers aren't going to break the bank! You can find a good set of glass meal prep containers on Amazon, Target, or other retail stores.

Fitness app subscription

What could be a better gift for a fitness lover than actual workouts?! Everyone can use a little help and motivation when it comes to getting fit and fitness apps help with just that! Fitness apps provide more than just workouts, they can help your friend stay on top of their goals and to follow through with them, and provide the necessary information and tools that they need to hit their goals! This makes it an excellent fitness gift for a friend who is just starting out with their fitness and could use a little nudge in the right direction. But it can even be beneficial for someone who's been training for years! It can help them plan effective workouts when they don't have time! Plus, planning workouts is stressful, so you can save your buddy a lot of stress and time.

When looking for a fitness app think about the training your friend does. Do they prefer cardio workouts like HIIT? Or strength training? Or maybe a mix of both! There are countless apps to choose from, but there is one we'd like to talk about... the Fit With Iulia app. Iulia, the founder of Fit With Iulia and UPPPER, and her team designed an app that is user-friendly to make fitness lovers' lives easier by providing weekly goal-focused workouts planned by Iulia herself. Here's what Fit With Iulia has to offer:

  • New home & gym workouts every week: There are six programs in total (4 gym and 2 home programs) that are carefully planned around a specific fitness goal (fat loss, muscle gain). Iulia plans out new workouts every week for every single goal. There are also currently two 3-month long Challenges available for anyone who wants to achieve a goal in a restricted amount of time!
  • Weekly training split: A proper training split minimizes the risk of overuse injuries, and helps the user target one or multiple muscle groups intensively each day - so they can tone up or build muscle effectively.
  • Progress tracking: This feature allows the user to track their progress on the app to see the improvements they've made throughout their fitness journey. Here's how it works... After performing an exercise, the user can enter the weight used and/or how many reps were performed. Next time the exercise is performed, the weight used previously will automatically be filled in. That way the user can determine the amount of weight to increase the next time they perform the exercises.
  • Macro calculation and tracking: The Kitchen feature on the Fit With Iulia app will calculate your macros as accurately as possible using their macro calculator or by completing a 5-day meal assessment. Once your macros are calculated, you can start using the expansive food library to start tracking your macros!
  • Detailed description, photos, and videos for every exercise: Users will get clear directions on how to perform exercises they may not be familiar with. The provided videos will also help the user make sure they are practicing proper form.

Whether your friend prefers cardio or lifting weights, this app has it all! The best thing is it's easy to gift! There are three payment options - Billed monthly, every 3 months, or every 6 months. Subscribe to the plan that fits best, and have your friend update the payment method after the time is up, or you can also set it up to cancel before the subscription is up.

The perfect gift for any fitness lover

We hope this makes your gift shopping a little less stressful, and whatever you decide to get your fitness-loving friend from this list, you can be sure that they're going to love it and appreciate you supporting their fitness and health!

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