The covid-19 pandemic has made most of us a lot more health conscious. With more people adopting active lifestyles, the best Christmas gifts this year should be gear that one can use while working out or playing a sport. Plenty of new products and subscription services were launched to address the rising demand of people who want to stay fit and eat healthy. We pick five gifts that are perfect for the active individual during this season of giving.
Hoodies and bottoms: With the winter chill having well and truly set in, it is time to swap the shorts, tees and tanks with hoodies and warmer bottoms. This is one of the safest gifts for the active lot because one can never have enough hoodies and bottoms to workout in. And just because you are going to end up sweaty doesn’t mean you can’t start out dressed smart. It is understandable if you are bored with the same old sports brands (at times we are too), hence here are two great alternatives for athleisure—the popular Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo and the successful homegrown offering by Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan, HRX.
Men’s HRX Active joggers and HRX Active bomber jacket are priced at ₹1,044 and ₹2,699 respectively. Uniqlo has a limited active wear and athleisure range but it is excellent. Their Ultra Stretch Active jacket ( ₹1,990) is, if not better, as good as any I have used from the top sports brands. The most refreshing thing is that it doesn’t have any gigantic logos and is priced very lucratively.
For women, you can pick from a wide range of smart HRX yoga and active tights ranging from ₹824 to ₹1,899. The HRX Training jacket for women starts at ₹1,044. Uniqlo offers a wide variety of cheerful colours and patterns in its patented and extremely comfortable leggings in Airism (from ₹990) and Heattech ( ₹790 onwards) fabrics. The warmer pile lined Airsim sweat hoodies start at ₹2,490.
GPS enabled watch and activity tracker: Fitness trackers are all the rage these days, but it is also a very crowded space with too many offerings. The easiest way to cut through the clutter is to stick to a versatile tracker that not only records your steps, heart rate and sleep but also has GPS to track your runs, walks, hikes and bike rides. It would be great if it also has sensors to record your strength training sessions.
Coros has great options and FitBit has decent options of such complete activity trackers, but my pick is the Garmin Forerunner (FR) 55. Unlike its more advanced and expensive cousins FR 745, FR 945 and Fenix 6, this one doesn’t really break the bank as it starts at ₹19,884 and does almost everything that the advanced models do. This makes the watch a perfect choice for recreational athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
It has a huge battery life and an excellent GPS unit. It can, more often than not, correctly detect the exercise you are performing during strength training and its GPS tracking for running, cycling and swimming is among the best in the world. So, no matter what the recipient might be interested in, this watch will be able to track everything.
Carbon plate shoes: Waiting lists and supply issues used to plague carbon tech running shoes when they first appeared on the scene. They used to be very expensive too. But now, almost every brand is making high performance race day shoes with carbon plates to help runners go faster. As a result, you can easily find a pair online or at a physical store these days. Puma’s Deviate Nitro, at ₹15,999 are the most affordable carbon tech race day shoes on the market currently with all others priced north of ₹20,000.
While the evolution of these shoes can be traced back to Nike, my pick of the lot is the Asics Metaspeed. The shoes are available in two variants (Sky and Edge) depending on whether one increases speed by increasing the stride length or cadence. The main reason I like these is the bright vermillion that the shoes come in. Nothing better than a pair of bright shoes to cheer you up on cold, grey days.
Resistance bands: Travel is slowly making a return, and when that happens you certainly won’t be able to carry your weights or home gym with you. Even for those who stick to body weight workouts, resistance bands are excellent way of increasing the intensity and in case of pull-ups they can be of great help. Light, small and easy to pack and store, they are ideal for everyone in their strength training routine.
Nutrition supplements: From Vitamin C to BCAA, from creatine to protein shakes and now even protein bread and coffee, the focus on nutrition has reached the next level. This is good news for you because now you can gift people anything from a box of protein bars and Vitamin C drinks to the more serious protein shake and BCAA jars. While Fast n Up and Enerzal offer reliable Vitamin C, Yoga Bar and the Whole Truth has great tasting protein bars and snacks.
When it comes to protein shakes and BCAA, people are a bit more fussy and it is best to check before you gift one to anyone. However, you are unlikely to go wrong if you pick the whey protein from ON (Optimum Nutrition), which has been on the market forever. While you might feel the best deals are available online, the brick and mortar store usually always match the online prices and even throws in a freebie, you don’t have to wait to get it and can see for yourself what other options are available in the market.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.