BOSU balance trainer
By far one of my favorite tools for getting fit, the BOSU balance trainer. This blue half dome looks pretty intimidating at first, but its versatility makes it a unique workout tool (BOSU stands for “both sides up”). It is a balance trainer, but so much more. Try standing on it to do squats, and your legs will start shaking because you are standing on a dynamic surface. Or flip it over and do planks or push-ups, all the while trying to balance.
The prices vary from a home version at $110 to a more durable professional version that is around $150. The weight limit on the pro version is 300 pounds.
This little ball looks innocent, but looks can be deceiving. Med balls come in a wide range of sizes from 2 pounds ($20-$30) up to 30 pounds ($120) or more. They can be hard shell or softer. One very popular version is the Dynamax ball that’s about twice the diameter of a regular med ball, but covered in a soft vinyl-coated polyester.
These balls can be used in place of weights, bounced against a concrete wall or on a floor, and even tossed between workout partners. They can be used for swinging wood chops or core exercises — the sky’s the limit.
TRX Suspension Trainer
Got a frequent flyer on your list? This piece of equipment is like a home gym that can go anywhere — all that’s needed is a door. The TRX Trainer is a series of straps with places to put hands or feet that comes with a door anchor attachment. This mini home gym uses your body weight to balance as you do planks, push-ups, lunges, back exercises or whatever you can create with your imagination. The home version sells for about $200.
For the techie friend who wants to track all their movements, try the Nike+FuelBand SE. This gadget fits on your wrist and looks like a bracelet. The more you move each day, the more Nike Fuel you earn. The device connects to your smartphone or home computer, where you can track your progress and compete against your pals. Set daily goals and cool LED lights on the band go from red to green as you get closer to reaching them. You can also share your info on Facebook and Twitter.
The one downside is that the band only records movement where your arms are involved. So any leg-only exercises will not be counted.
The starting price for the Nike+FuelBand is $149.
ALSO: Garmin makes several types of fitness watches that range in price from $135 to $500. These watches are essential for runners and tri-athletes who want to track their distances, whether running, biking or swimming. Some of the more expensive models have speed cadence sensors, heart rate monitors, and can track calories burned during exercise.
Health club membership
Why not give the gift of health in the form of a gym time? If you are on a tight budget, many gyms have four-month memberships and personal training sessions as little as five hour-long sessions.
Of course, if you want to splurge, buy a buddy package or group training package and train with them. Once they get started, they may decide to continue on, purchasing more sessions or extending membership.
I recommend finding a gym with no contracts so they won’t get locked into something they do not want. As with any club membership make sure you understand the terms of the contract before signing on the dotted line.
Ann Angell is the program center manager at the Oxford Y for Now.