Slate has relationships with various online retailers. If you buy something through our links, Slate may earn an affiliate commission. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. All prices were up to date at the time of publication.
In search of the perfect gift? Read more of Slate’s holiday gift guides here.
We’ve all got someone on our gift list who either makes—or wants to make—exercise a priority. Thankfully, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to get a good workout, but certain gear can make exercise more comfortable, effective, or fun. These items—selected from past Picks pieces—will make a ride, run, or lifting session a little bit better.
For the biker in your life, consider rounding out their gear with a bike-themed gift: a multitool, a more sophisticated light, and a pouch. Staff writer Henry Grabar said of this multitool, “This little workhorse will help you do simple things at home, like raise your seat or remove your front wheel to get the bike into a car.”
“A decent pair of lights will help drivers and pedestrians see you coming and going. A fancy light like this can brighten a whole block of pavement,” wrote Grabar. “It lets me cruise in the dark, secure in the knowledge that I’m not about to steer my front wheel into a pothole.”
Project manager Meryl Devulder sang the praises of her seat pouch: “I love my Topeak seat pack—I use it to store my multitool, an extra tube, CO2 cartridges, a CO2 inflator, and tire levers. I highly recommend one, especially for long rides. This version even boasts a light for added visibility.”
The runner in your life will appreciate headphones that allow them to listen while they exercise and stay safe: “I spend a good chunk of time either biking to work or running around my city, and these headphones allow me to listen to music or podcasts without blocking out my surroundings (especially while biking),” said managing editor Megan Wiegand. “If you care deeply about audio quality, these headphones aren’t for you. But they’re worth every penny if you’d rather not shut out all the noise around you but want to keep yourself entertained during your commute or workout.”
Even if the yoga practitioner in your life already has a mat, it’s a good item to replace regularly—and said replacement will be especially welcome if you gift an extra nice one. Assistant managing editor Abby McIntyre wrote, “I’ve recently discovered the pleasure of practicing on a sturdy, well-made mat that doesn’t flake and stick to my sweaty body. Any dedicated yogi would appreciate an upgrade to a Jade Harmony, the Mercedes-Benz of yoga mats.”
If you know someone who recently started weight training, these grips could help eliminate the pinching and strain that sometimes result from lifting. Analytics engineer Laura Lai wrote, “Cobra Grips have helped me feel more confident about using heavier weight while exercising because they stabilize my wrists and protect my palms.”
Personal trainer and fitness author Larysa Didio recommended investing in resistance bands for your at-home workout regimen. She said they offer “a great workout” and effectively exercise legs, arms, and abs.
Part of having a good workout is a good recovery. Former intern Elena Botella advised that these therapy wraps are terrific for any frequently sore person in your life. “The Velcro strap and the wrap’s supple nature make it a cinch to ice your sore limbs while casually watching Netflix,” she wrote. “These wraps also don’t drip with condensation or stick to your skin—a million times better than a normal ice pack.”
If your loved one is looking to make exercise a bit more social, consider the gift of pickleball. Dan Kois has found it a great way to connect with his wife, kids, and friends, declaring that part of what makes it so good is that “it’s just not that hard.” He wrote, “It’s perfect for this era of social distancing—we played against some friends who had never even heard of the game, and they nearly beat us on their first go-round.”
Jumping rope is also a great, inexpensive form of exercise. In her guide for how to get started, staff writer Shannon Palus noted, “If you’re looking for a new way to work out right now, you could do worse than trying jump-rope. It doesn’t require you to go anywhere near other people. … It’s also extremely inexpensive, and for people who love it, it’s the right combination of exhausting and joyful.” A jump-rope makes a great stocking stuffer, too.