Gift Guide for a Fitness Enthusiast Who Needs Socially Distanced At-Home Workouts

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We all have that jock, athlete or yogi in our friend group who can’t get enough of exercise. We also all have that one friend who’s often wading into the workout waters, unsure of where to start. And we might even want to gift ourselves some fitness-friendly accessories to facilitate self-care during a time when we need it most. Whether your buddy is a longtime fitness enthusiast or, like many of us, is looking for creative ways to get in some movement at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve rounded up all of the must-have gadgets and items for outfitting any workout space.

A Versatile Exercise Mat

Whether you’re reconnecting with yourself through some meditative, stress-reducing yoga or getting some push-ups in, an exercise or yoga mat is a must-have for any at-home workout. Sure, you can run through some reps without one, but the right mat can make things much more comfortable, especially if your home has hardwood floors.

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The thicker the mat, the better the cushioning, which means less stress and irritation for your wrists, knees and feet. If you’re looking to get the most out of your purchase, we recommend either the ProsourceFit Extra Thick Yoga Mat or the WWWW Non-Slip Yoga Mat. You really can’t go wrong. Bonus: An exercise mat can help you or your recipient separate workout time from rest time, kind of like how a designated deskspace can do wonders for those working remotely.

Resistance Bands, Kettle Bells and Other Hand Weight Alternatives

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s been increasingly difficult to find hand weights and dumbbells this year. With so many people working from home — and with gyms and rec centers shutting down to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 — our houses have not only become offices, but workout facilities, too. If you’re looking for some hand weight alternatives, we have a few great options.

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First up are the Fit Simplify Resistance Bands. The latex bands come in five (color-coded) resistance levels, making them perfect for newbies and seasoned pros alike. Best of all, resistance bands can seamlessly integrate into yoga and pilates routines or work just as well on their own for strength training. If you’re looking to take things to the next level, the Whatafit Resistance Bands Set might be for you: These resistance bands work the same way as the others but actually anchor onto a door, tree or other stable surface. Looking for an old-school solution? Try the Yes4All Coated Kettlebell Three-Weight Set. These colorful weights are perfect for an assortment of workout needs. Choose from various weight combinations to fit your workout level.

Doorway-Friendly Pull-Up Bar and a Suspension Alternative

If you’re looking for a great upper-body and abs at-home workout, there’s nothing like doing some good old fashioned push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and leg raises. One great gadget can help you or your fitness-minded friend perform all of those workouts with ease — the ProsourceFit Multi-Grip Pull-Up Bar (right). Made of steel and capable of supporting 300 pounds, this portable device is easy to install into any available door frame and comes with a variety of grips and handles so that you can mix up your routine.

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Looking for a more flexible full-body workout that doesn’t (necessarily) involve door frames? Try the TRX All In One Suspension Training System. In some ways, it’s kind of like a combination of a pull-up bar and resistance bands. Simply anchor the TRX to a door, rafter, beam, tree or post and watch it support up to 350 pounds of resistance. Well, don’t just watch it — start those reps!

Fitness Trackers to Help You Stay…on Track

If you know someone who’s a Fitbit loyalist, you’ve probably heard the common refrain of, “Hold on — I need to get my steps in” or watched someone do laps around the office in order to hit a movement goal. More than just a trend, these high-tech pedometers are a great way to hold yourself accountable to movement goals, monitor your sleeping habits and do so much more.

Photo Courtesy: Fitbit via Amazon

Not sure which Fitbit is right for you? We’ve curated a few options.

  • First up is the Fitbit Flex 2 (right), an upgrade to the company’s groundbreaking health tracker of yesteryear. As you can see, the Flex 2 is Fitbit’s slimmest model yet, but if a wristband clashes with your style, you can remove the tracker element and place it into other compatible bangles and pendants. Best of all, this waterproof band is programmed with SmartTrack tech that allows the band to recognize workouts you perform regularly and provides all the stats you need to work toward your movement goals.

  • Looking for something with a screen? The mid-range Fitbit Inspire 2 (middle) is easier on the wallet — and even easier to use. At any time, swipe up on the watch face to see a snapshot of your stats, from step count to calories burned to miles traveled and more. This model also performs basic sleep-tracking functions, and the LCD display allows you to read texts, set noiseless alarms and do more.

  • Want more of a smartwatch-meets-health-tracker model? Try the Fitbit Charge 4 (left). Dubbed Fitbit’s “most advanced” tracker, this model isn’t as robust as a full-on smartwatch, but it does feature the ever-elusive built-in GPS, 24/7 heart-rate tracking, in-depth sleep tracking, a seven-day battery life, “tap to pay” options and the ability to access weather forecast, timer and calendar apps, among other basics.

Hop On the Next Trend With a Weighted Jump Rope

We all remember the jump rope unit from gym class, right? Well, what was once a fun, blacktop recess activity is now the latest workout trend. If you’ve ever taken a boxing class — or watched a Rocky film — you might know that jumping rope can provide a grueling (but effective) cardio workout. If you’re new to this routine, the Survival and Cross Jump Rope, with its lightweight handles and twist-free cable, is great for first-timers.

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Want to go the extra mile? The best way to do that is to add weights to your workout routine, and weighted jump ropes make that a breeze. With heavier handles, the VoxLova Weighted Jump Rope can help you or your recipient improve your stamina and get an arm workout in during your cardio regimen, all at an affordable price point. If you’re looking for something a bit more robust, the Crossrope Weighted Jump Rope lets you quickly and easily change between lighter and heavier ropes so that all of your muscle groups get an even workout. Best of all, you can download the Crossrope app for more insight into specific workouts that are part-intense, part-fun.

For Athletes Who Are on the (Medicine) Ball

Want to be on the ball when it comes to exercise? You can literally do that with these next products. First up, we have the XGEAR Medicine Ball. It’s likely you’re familiar with the ol’ toss-the-weight-ball-back-and-forth exercise routine — if you have a workout buddy, that’s a great one. But even if you’re working out solo, this easy-to-grip, weighted ball can be implemented into any regimen for improving core strength and stability.

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Great for yoga, pilates, ab training and low-impact pregnancy workouts, products like the GalSports Exercise Ball are a great way to mix up daily workouts. Working from home? This one can double as an ergonomic seating option. This is because the “micro-movements” associated with maintaining your balance on a ball chair help you engage your mind and body in a new way, leading to increased productivity and focus. Now, go have a ball!

Get Out Frustrations With Boxing Gloves and a Full-Length Mirror

One way to commit to a workout routine is to make it about something else — focus on learning a skill, not on the tiring movements. You know, mind over matter. Boxing, or kickboxing, can be a great way to relieve stress, get a full-body workout and discover a fun, new discipline. While signing up for classes can be beneficial, there’s also a lot you can do on your own.

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We recommend buying a mirror, like the Huimei2Y Full Length Mirror. This will allow you to focus on your form, remind you to keep your fists close to your temples and stop any wayward arm-flailing (a.k.a. the easiest way to hurt yourself). Want to take your jab-cross-uppercut combo to the next level? Try adding in a pair of gloves, like these Everlast Elite Pro Style Training Gloves, which will make you feel ring-ready while you train.

Best Running Shoes for Everyone

Whether you’re a beginner, a professional or anything in between, the importance of finding the best pair of running shoes remains the same. There are a lot of options out there, but we’ve narrowed the playing field down to our favorites.

Photo Courtesy: Nike; UnderArmor

First, if you’re looking for shoes in what’s considered women’s sizing, we recommend the adidas Cloudfoam Pure Running Shoe, a lightweight, foot-hugging shoe that features a Cloudfoam memory sockliner for everyday comfort. If you’re in the market for what’s considered a men’s-sized shoe, check out the Under Armour Charged Assert 8 Running Shoe, which is made of lightweight, breathable mesh and provides runners with both balance and comfort.