10 Best Gifts for the Fitness Fiend in Your Life

With the big day now less than four weeks away (yes, you heard that right!) you may be looking for the ideal gift for the fitness fiend in your life. Now I promise this isn’t just an excuse for me to get my own Christmas list out in the public domain, but needless to say I wouldn’t be sorry to find any of these things in my stocking on December 25th.

Sweaty Betty Accessories

It’s no secret that around two thirds of my workout gear is Sweaty Betty, but if you’re looking for some stocking fillers, you can’t go wrong with their brilliant skinny headbands. They don’t budge from my head (although my sister says they don’t work on her “torpedo head” so, if your gift receiver resembles a conehead you might want to give these a miss). I’m also a big fan of their super soft trainer liners, which they do on offer for 3 for £15.

Foam Roller

Foam rollers are quite honestly injury-preventing little cylinders of genius. Ok, I can’t promise they’ll keep the fitness fiend in your life totally injury free, but they will allow them to give their muscles a deep massage without the help of a pricey physio. Just five minutes a day on one of these bad boys can make a huge difference. I credit mine with keeping my IT band healthy.

Sweaty Betty Hairband – £6, Foam Roller from £11.39

High Vis

It’s winter. It’s dark out. For the love of all things festive and holy please make sure that if the one you love is exercising outdoors, they’re wearing something that will make sure they’re seen. Honestly, the number of times runners and cyclists have suddenly loomed out of the darkness all in black and made me slam on my brakes is frightening.Get them a vest or an armband or a bright yellow top. They don’t have to cost the earth and they are so important at this time of year.

Medal Holder

I keep all of my medals in a tiny box (I reckon my sister has a storage unit somewhere) but I think this medal holder from Siop Gardd is a lovely gift. Plus it can be personalised which I always think is a great touch and shows you’ve put a bit of thought into it, rather than just buying whichever perfume was on offer the day you went shopping.

Ronhill High Vis from £10.80, Medal Holder £24.50

Trail Trainers

As the weather gets colder and wetter, it’s not a bad idea to get the runner in your life some trail trainers. These are “grippier” than your standard running trainers, so will set them up right for an off road running session (at Wandlebury say….)! I can recommend the Asics Fuji trainers.

Training Log

It’s always good for the serious fitness fan in your life to keep a log of their training. I’m not brilliant at doing this it has to be said (I ran out of space on my scrap of paper that had my weights programme on it and haven’t been keeping a record since – sorry Tristan!) but if I had a runner’s notebook like this lovely one from the Quirky Gift Library from Not On the High Street I might keep better records. It can be personalised and also comes with chocolate – what’s not to like?

Asics Fuji from £34.95, Runner’s Notebook £15

 Fitness Band

If you feel like splashing out and your fitness fiend likes a bit of tech there are a lot of fitness bands out there. There’s Fitbit, Jawbone and Withings, but I personally have my eye on the Microsoft Band 2. The band has a continuous heart rate monitor to track heart rate (d’uh) calorie burn and sleep quality, and email, text, social updates and call alerts can all be viewed. 11 sensors include GPS, UV monitor and barometer and it’s compatible with Windows Phone, Android and iPhone.

FlipBelt

I wrote a review of the FlipBelt a few months ago, and I’m still a huge fan. I’m confident that anyone who does long runs on their own would find this a real asset for storing their keys and phone without it hindering their running in any way.

Microsoft Band 2 £199.99, FlipBelt, £25

Personalised Running Achievements Print

This may well be my favourite item on the list, because it’s not only incredible stylish, but it’s the most personal item here. Mrs L Cards’ print can be designed for a range of running distances or times, and is available in two colourways. I adore it. It’s available on both Not On The High Street and Etsy.

A Running Top

It’s a festive running t-shirt for crying out loud. Just buy one immediately. Alternatively, the awesome RedBear also do this brilliant sugar skull one.

Running Achievements Print £15, RedBear top £29

Body by Simone at Sweaty Betty Cambridge – My Review

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m a HUGE fan of any movement that allows people to experience exercise for free, whether it’s the awesome parkrun and Parktennis events taking over green space all over the country (and beyond) or whether it’s Sweaty Betty, continuing to expand their #GetFit4Free campaign with new and innovative workouts.

I’ve been to a few of Sweaty Betty’s free classes over the last year or so. Most recently I’ve enjoyed Flow and Glow with Rachael and Fly, Flex, Flow with Jo, and I loved both, so when I saw that they were bringing in “Body by Simone” for a four week period I knew I’d have to skip a Tuesday Ely Runners session (sorry guys!) to give the class a go.

Simone in this context is Simone De La Rue, an LA based fitness guru with abs of actual steel if her photos are anything to go by. According to the SB website, the “Body by Simone” workout will make your heart rate soar, tone and strengthen your body and leave you feeling fabulously happy. Ultimately, it’s a dance cardio workout tailored to work the bum, legs, arms and abs with the aim to give you a body like a dancer.

Now I know it’s going to take more than a 50 minute workout to give me a dancer’s physique. I’d have to lay off the visits to Cherry Hill Chocolates in Ely for a start and we all know that’s not going to happen. But I can say that after one class, if you were to do this regularly enough, your body would reap the rewards.

The class itself took place at the Hidden Rooms in Cambridge, somewhere I’ve not been before and which were a bit too well hidden for me as I walked past the door a few times before someone gently pointed me in the right direction with a bemused smile on their face. Inside there are low ceilings (which may have caused some of the taller attendees some problems but which obviously didn’t impact on me in the slightest) and a very cool, only vaguely hipster-ish vibe to the whole place. Previous classes I’ve been too have been held outside or in the Sweaty Betty store, but because there were some large, dynamic movements in this class such as lateral lunges and star jumps, the store wouldn’t have worked, and as music is a key element to the class we needed somewhere inside to make sure we didn’t cause a public nuisance. So being just around the corner from the shop, The Hidden Rooms were ideal.

Around 15 of us had gathered for the class, and after a quick intro by our instructor Katie (who I recognised from the Cambridge store and from the many times I’ve spotted her power walking to the train station) we were led into a very dynamic warm up, which set the pace for the whole class. And I have to give out a shout out to the AMAZING music she was using. When did you last hear Ghetto Supastar by Pras for crying out loud?! Just. Awesome.

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The only kit required – a mat and some hand weights

Now I’ve never been the biggest fan of aerobics as I find it can be too “single-paced” for me. I like variety between high impact cardio, body weight movements and weights work, which meant that this class was a great fit for me. After a cardio song that involved pretending we had a ball in our hands (stick with me here, it makes perfect sense in the moment) we then went into weights work for the arms. Now I would normally scoff at 1.5kg weights (I do rows with 14kg dumbells at the moment), but after an entire song’s worth of tricep dips, flies, curls and more, it felt like I wouldn’t have been able to hold much more without sacrificing the quality of the movement. After another cardio track that involved a lot of squats and lunges, followed by another that involved lots of jumping, star jumps and deep squats to hit your palm on the floor (my personal favourite), we then did an abs section, which I think is the one I’m most likely to repeat regularly at home. I already have an ab workout that I do most evening (always to Naughty Boy’s La La La which my husband could not be more sick of) but this plank-focussed workout was a great alternative, incorporating mountain climbers and holding the plank position on our palms and then on our elbows. We then ended the class by combining three of the different cardio routines into one, so having a little bit of natural rhythm and the ability to follow dance-based moves will help, but isn’t essential.

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Myself and Katie, two very Sweaty Betties after the workout

All through the class our instructor Katie – who clearly had a dancer’s background as evidenced by her ridiculously elegant arm movements – was fun and full of energy, which is clearly standard protocol for SB staff and ambassadors. It’s not easy to teach to a class of mostly strangers (I suspect she’s not able to build up quite the same rapport in these situations as she can with people who attend the classes she teaches regularly outside of the #GetFit4Free movement) but she was relaxed which helped to put the class at ease. Plus she asked at the start if anyone had any injuries, which is always a massive plus sign for me.

I left the class feeling like I’d had a great workout, and most importantly that I had some elements that I could take home with me and do again in my own time. If you’re keen to try it yourself you can either access the workout online, or the last class with the Cambridge store will be happening next Tuesday and you should be able to book a spot here from Monday morning. I mean why wouldn’t you? It is free after all.

Unless of course you count the shorts that I bought in the sale. Those wily SB minxes. They know exactly what they’re doing.

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Wearing my new shorts that have all the colours