Gifts with flex appeal
Read our tips for a no-sweat way to please the workout crew this year
Looking for holiday treats for your fitness-minded friends?
Maybe you should. Because honestly, who needs yet another high-calorie box of chocolates?
Give something healthy instead — the gift of fitness. No matter how they get their sweat on, we've got an idea. Even better, many of the products listed here were developed in Austin.
On the run
Know someone who's training for their first 5K or their 50th marathon? 'Running, The Essential Guide,' a DVD featuring Steve Sisson, Ruth England and Carmen Ayala-Troncoso of Rogue Training Systems, which trains 3,000 Austin athletes a year, was filmed right here in Austin. The 70-minute video covers it all, from stretching to proper running form, nutrition, hydration, equipment and avoiding injury. $20; Rogue Equipment, 500 San Marcos St.
Coffee for a cause
The good thing about Burundi Kibira AA coffee? (Besides the hints of citrus and bourbon in the flavor, that is.) Twenty percent of each purchase benefits the Gazelle Foundation, headed by Austin running guru Gilbert Tuhabonye. The beans are shipped green to Bastrop, where they're roasted in small batches by Coffee Dog Roastery. The Gazelle Foundation works to provide clean water for residents of Burundi. $14 for 1-pound bag; Coffee Dog Espresso Bar, 1412 W. Texas 71 in Bastrop; coffeedoginc.com; 512-303-2244; email@example.com.
A look at Lance's life
What better for the cycling junkie on your list than a photo book chronicling Lance Armstrong's return to racing? Local photographer Elizabeth Kreutz, a personal friend of Armstrong's, spent a year following the Tour de France champion, photographing everything from training rides to drug tests, playing with his children, meeting with world leaders and the birth of his fourth child. The result is 'Comeback 2.0: Up Close and Personal,' a gorgeous peek inside this athlete's life. About $30; major bookstores.
Keep it D.R.Y.
For folks whose car is a rolling gym bag, we present D.R.Y. Car Seat Towel Straps. The handy double-edged clips attach to any towel, so it stays put when you slide it over the top of your car seat. Developed by an Austin-area couple who swims, runs, rows, sweats and hauls around messy dogs. About $10; RunTex; BettySport; Rogue; AustinTricyclist, 923 Barton Springs Road; www.drycarseats.com.
The gift of choice
How about a gift certificate that actually gets someone out there kayaking, rowing, running, pumping iron or boot-camping? Check with your favorite gym or training group. A few (of many) that we like: Stand-up paddle lessons at the Expedition School (www.expeditionschool.com), exercise classes at CrossFit (www.crossfitcentral.com), kayak rentals at the Rowing Dock (www.rowingdock.com), training programs at Rogue Running (www.roguerunning.com) or boot camp by Camp Gladiator (www.campgladiator.com).
The shirt off your back
We sweat a lot in Austin, so a good wicking shirt that's not too thick and moves with your body is a must. The Crafts proCOOL Tee with Mesh is antimicrobial and lighter than most. It's stretchy and comfortable and comes in cool colors, to boot. About $50; Academy; multiple Central Texas locations; www.academy.com.
The sun shines a lot in Texas, and it's as important to protect your eyes from glare as it is to protect your skin from a sunburn. We like two offerings from Adidas: the super adjustable Adizero, perfect for runners, with photochromic lenses that automatically adjust to fluctuating light conditions, and the trendy Xephyr, a lightweight, wraparound pair with traction grips to keep them put and temples that pop back in place if you knock them out. Starting at about $110 for Xephyr, above; $160-$200 for Adizero, below; www.amazon.com.
Not too Shabby
We're in love with these stretchy, comfy Bermuda shorts in the new Blossom line of athletic wear by Shabby Apple Clothes. Think yoga pants, only shorter — and hipper — and with a swirly design printed on the left leg. Just girly enough! About $38; www.shabbyapple.com.
Bag it up
Fila makes a roomy nylon bag that'll carry all your yoga gear, from a towel to a change of clothing. There's a special place to strap your yoga mat, a pouch to hold your water bottle and a zippered compartment for books or keys. Adjustable straps, brushed copper hardware and gorgeous floral embroidery accents. About $50; shop.fila.com and dickssportinggoods.com.
Fit for life
With Wii Fit, Nintendo showed that even video games can help burn calories. Now comes the Wii Fit Plus, with all the original activities — plus new ones like snowball fighting, island cycling, juggling and skateboarding. Select your own trainer, customize a workout routine and even track calories. About $20 (game only); $100 with Wii Balance Board; major retail and gaming stores throughout the area including Best Buy, Target and Walmart.
Wish you could snap your fingers and have the best exercise music ready to go? The slotRadio to Go player from SanDisk comes pre-loaded with 1,000 songs specifically picked to help pump up your next training run or yoga session. (Think Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Limp Bizkit, Fergie and Pussycat Dolls.) Songs are divided into playlists including Roadwork, Power and Cooldown — and they're just the right tempo to match your activity. About $60 for player and music card; area electronics stores including Best Buy and Radio Shack; www.slotradio.com.
Snug as a glove
Brooks designed the Unisex Pulse Lite Glove for runners, but cyclists and hikers will covet these lightweight, breathable gloves, too. They're made of moisture-transfer fabric and have an extra-long, snug wristband and a retractable mp3 thumb pad. About $18; Bettysport and Rogue.
Pull the Trigger
The Grid, a bright orange foam roller about the size of a liter bottle of soda, has three different texture areas — one that feels like the palm of a hand, another that feels like fingertips and a third that feels like fingers and thumbs. Roll it over muscles tight from running or incorporate it as part of your core workout routine for sweet relief. Made by Trigger Point, an Austin company. About $40; Run-Tex, 422 W. Riverside Drive; Rogue Equipment; Mellow Johnny's, 400 Nueces St.; Jack & Adam's, 2001 S. Lamar Blvd.; Hill Country Running, 215 S. Lamar Blvd.; Bicycle Sport Shop, 517 S. Lamar Blvd.; Bettysport, 916-A W. 12th St.; www.tptherapy.com.