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Gifts for fitness buffs

Pam LeBlanc: Fit City

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Forget the fruitcake, sack the sweater, toss the tie. What the fitness junkie on your holiday gift list really wants is something to work up a sweat over. From a bike that works like an elliptical machine to aerial arts classes at Sky Candy to the funkiest swim caps you've ever seen, we've rounded up a collection of what active folks are dreaming about this year. The best thing about these suggestions? They're designed to keep the ones you love active and, as a result, healthier. And that's the best gift you could give anyone.

Motivational towels

From Words to Sweat By comes a line of hand towels that provide a little motivation while you dab off the perspiration. Messages include "There will be no jiggle in my wiggle," "Squat is a four-letter word" and "Exert Hydrate Repeat." ($9.95 at wordstosweatby.com)

Race entry

Sometimes the best gifts are the kind that don't take up space on the shelf — like entry fees for a local race. Our favorites include the Livestrong Austin Marathon on Feb. 19 ($130; www.youraustinmarathon.com), the Austin 10/20 on April 15 ($70 until Dec. 30; www.austin1020.com) and the Statesman Capitol 10,000 on March 25 ($33; www.statesman.com/cap10k).

Fitness classes

Budding circus stars will love Sky Candy, where they can learn aerial arts including silks, static trapeze, rope and lyra ($100 for six-week session at www.skycandyaustin.com). If boot camp is more their style, check out Camp Gladiator's sweat-inducing workouts ($160 for new campers at www.campgladiatoraustin.com). Prefer dance? The lineup at Ballet Austin Butler Community School includes hula, hip-hop, West African and ballet (five-class card $75 at www.balletaustin.org/community). Yoga aficionados can get their pretzel on at YogaYoga (one-month unlimited pass $140; eight-class pass $108 at www.yogayoga.com).

SPIleash

For runners with four-legged exercise friends and stuff that needs stashing, may we present the SPIleash? Austin inventor Kim Overton has added a new product to her line of pocketed waist belts, and this one holds everything from a car key to dog biscuits — and there's a spot to clip a leash, so you can walk hands-free. ($29.95, www.spibelt.com)

Light strips

Stick-on LED light strips from APALS-AIR make the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who heads out in the dark to get in a workout. Visible from a quarter mile away, the Band-Aid sized strips come in amber or blue and last up to 70 hours. Stick 'em on helmets, shoes, clothing or bikes. ($10 for set of two at Amazon.com or Brite-Strike.com)

LiveStrong gear

Lance Armstrong's cancer-hating nonprofit foundation is based in Austin, so we had to include some of Nike's cool LiveStrong products. Choose from shoes, hoodies, Dri-FIT baselayers, caps, shirts and running knickers. (Prices vary, Nike.com).

Arm warmers

Can't decide whether you need a long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirt? Wildskins are stretchy, nylon spandex sleeves that pull on or off with ease, so you can have both. There's even a pocket and a thumb hole for a tight fit. ($19.50 at www.Wildskinsco.com)

Fitness DVDs

Dancing? Yoga? Pilates? You name it, there's a DVD that'll walk you through it. Some of our latest faves include "Element: Hatha & Flow Yoga for Beginners," "Billy Blanks Jr. Fat Burning Hip Hop Mix," "The Biggest Loser: Calorie Knock-Out" and "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition - The Workout." (Prices vary, amazon.com and other stores)

BikeGlow

Want to be seen on the streets? Look no further than the neonlike Bike Glow safety light. The flashing 10-foot flexible light tube wraps around the frame of your bike, baby stroller or little red wagon, making you extra visible. In yellow, red, blue or green. ($25 at REI)

ElliptiGO

This wacky looking bike/elliptical mashup provides great aerobic conditioning, and it's easy on the knees. Imagine cruising over the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge on one come Christmas morning. ($2,399 at Bicycle Sport Shop).

Swimcaps

Yep, even swimmers like to look good while they train. Lucky for them, we found caps decorated with everything from a swimmer's version of Washington crossing the Delaware (really!) to a bright daisy motif. ($5-$12 at www.swimoutlet.com).

"Italian Racing Bicycles: The People, The Products, The Passion"

Whether you're talking high fashion, sports cars or racing bicycles, the conversation inevitably turns to Italy. This lush hardcover book from Guido P. Rubino is packed with 230 color and black-and-white photographs detailing the history of 40 Italian cycling brands. Bellissimo! ($39.95, Velopress)

Digital Jump Rope

For the athlete who wants to know exactly how many Twinkies he's burned off, GNC introduces a battery-operated digital jump rope that counts rotations and tracks how many calories you burned while making them. ($14.99 at www.GNC.com)

"Cyclopedia: It's All About the Bike"

With slightly snarky entries for everything from Lance Armstrong to velocipedes, this A-to-Z compendium by William Fotheringham explains all things bike-related, including diets of famous cyclists, the first organized meeting of the Critical Mass cycling movement and the history of bikes in war. ($25, Chicago Review Press)

Light strips

Stick-on LED light strips from APALS-AIR make the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who heads out in the dark to get in a workout. Visible from a quarter mile away, the Band-Aid sized strips come in amber or blue and last up to 70 hours. Stick 'em on helmets, shoes, clothing or bikes. ($10 for set of two at Amazon.com or Brite-Strike.com)

Wish list

What do you want this holiday season? We polled readers to find out what they're wishing for. Here's a sampling of responses:

Dwight Bynum:A year's worth of personal training sessions or yoga classes

Jason Villarreal: Some Trigger Point gear for recovery and some new running shoes

Ashley Velasquez: Compression socks and a snazzy-fancy-not-totally-necessary Garmin

Clark Stringer: One of Lance's lungs

Bill Simons: Airfare and entry fees to the Ruta de los Conquistadores race

John Colver: Some of this Austin autumn weather boxed up and sent to Seattle!

@TheTexBex: I ask for nice running socks every year. They're more money than I want to spend on a pair of socks, but soooo comfy to run in.

@TheGreenMamba: I'd love a metabolism left under the tree for me.