Some people wake up every morning looking forward to the sweat-inducing, muscle-burning workout they are going to complete that day. Let’s face it: You aren’t those people.
However, you probably know at least one person who would proudly self-label as a gym rat or fitness fanatic, and soon enough, that person is going to celebrate a birthday or anniversary that requires a present from you — the same you who knows almost nothing about exercise.
Fortunately, we have the answers to your prayers: Here is a list of the absolute best last-minute gifts you can give to the athlete in your life. You should be able to locate the following items in regular stores around the country, and we guarantee your fit friend will absolutely flip with joy.
1. Reusable Hot and Cold Compresses
If there is one universal bane to avid exercisers everywhere, it is the recovery period. Muscles and bones (and other systems of the body required for living) need time to heal after rough workouts, and those who refuse to rest (read: most gym rats) will inevitably suffer from overuse injuries, including painful inflammation. Hot and cold compresses, which can be found at the corner drug store, help the body recover faster, which makes for happy athletes.
2. Compression Sleeves
Though they have been around for ages, compression sleeves are gaining popularity in the fitness world for their seemingly magic ability to enhance the natural healing powers of the body. Tight sleeves worn around basically any appendage — from ankles to whole legs, wrists to whole arms — improve and regulate circulation, cutting down inflammation during and after an intense workout. As they gain traction with athletes, compression sleeves are becoming fashion statements outside the gym as well: They come in all sorts of colors and patterns to go with any outfit.
3. Heart Rate Monitoring Devices
Everyone has a different reason for working out, but usually the disparate reasons are united by a common thread: to be healthier. However, not all workouts contribute as efficiently to this goal. The best way to make sure one’s workout is helping the cardiovascular system, burning fat, and building muscle is to keep track of one’s heart rate using a specially made device. Heart rate watches are easy to find and cheap to purchase, but they drastically improve the health benefits of workouts.
4. Wireless Headphones
Music and exercise go together like peanut butter and whey protein, but wires can get in the way of a gym rat’s reps and routine. That’s why many athletes are severing the cord and turning to wireless headphones to jam out while they pump up. All types of sports headphones are readily available at local electronics dealers, and while wireless varieties might be a bit more expensive, the value (and the smile on your friend’s face) is certainly worth the price.
5. Reusable Water Bottles
Most people are aware of the hidden dangers of disposable plastic water bottles, from their cancer-causing chemicals to their drain on the environment, but when an athlete still has three more gym days and no clean reusable water containers, he or she will probably reach for the easy solution. The truth is that no one can have enough reusable water bottles. They come in so many different shapes, materials, and colors, that a new addition to an exerciser’s collection will always be welcome. The best reusable water bottles are marked BPA-free and can be found virtually anywhere, from grocery stores to athletic equipment shops.
6. Kitchen Gear and Cookbooks
Those who enjoy a long, sweaty workout usually also enjoy a filling, healthful meal afterwards. However, not every gym rat has a fully equipped kitchen or the culinary know-how to create a delicious and nutritious dish. Kitchen essentials like a nice set of chef’s knives are good gifts for any health nut, but you may also find uncommon kitchen gadgets that inspire unique, wholesome menus, like vegetable spiralizers. Cookbooks filled with workout-aiding recipes can provide even more guidance in the kitchen.
7. Juicer or Blender
Speaking of healthy eating choices, juicing is the latest and greatest trend in fitness food. The idea is that most of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants of fresh fruits and vegetables can be squeezed out into refreshing and tasty juice, which offers fewer calories and is less filling than eating the foods whole. To take full advantage of fruits’ and vegetables’ juice, one needs a powerful juicer to use every day.
If your exercise enthusiast isn’t fascinated by the juicing fad, any health nut will go bonkers over a better blender. Blended drinks, like protein shakes, green smoothies, and more, are staples in the gym rat’s diet, and the best blenders on the market can cost a pretty penny, which is why they make such excellent gifts.