The Perfect Gifts For Athletes in Your Life

Sometimes all that tinsel can hide the hardships of the holidays.

A stressful travel, hours of cooking and scrambling to find stocking-stuffers is already a workout. On top of that, we athletes and gym-goers can often be hard to shop for with our sport-specific gear, uptight schedule and dietary restrictions.

But never fear—to take a little stress off your holiday season here is a gift guide for the athlete in your life.

Wireless Headphones

I confess, I cursed the forced transition to Bluetooth headphones. Change is hard, but necessary. I’m happy to report that since making the shift, the time spent messing with my headphones is now limited to turning it on before my workout and off when I’m through.

When it comes to wireless headphones, the options are across the board regarding gimmicks and correlating price tags. I personally use the Jaybird Freedoms, which is an affordable and easy-to-use option for even the technologically challenged (like myself).

Grocery Store Gift Card

A gift card to a nearby supermarket may not be as sexy as some of the other presents under the tree, but it might be the only gift guaranteed to be used.

If there’s one thing all fitness enthusiasts have in common, it’s that we love to eat and we do it often. Even though I only eat out a few times in a given month, food is still one of my most significant expenses. A grocery store gift card will be as sweet a gesture as putting a hot meal in front of them yourself, but without the extra work.

If you want to up the grocery store gift card game, buy one for a store like Whole Foods. There they can either eat a pre-made meal from the high-end salad bar or stock their fridge with their favorite groceries.

Socks and Undies

If there were a theme to this list, it would be practicality. Undergarments probably take the practicality cake. High-end underwear and socks can sometimes be difficult to justify buying for ourselves, but cotton socks and cheap undies are likely the number one cause of workout discomfort.

This year I’ll be stuffing the stockings of loved ones with Merino Wool underwear made specifically for athletes by preferred brands Icebreaker and Smartwool. As for socks, brands like Feetures! and Stance offer thin synthetic socks as well as socks made out of Merino Wool.

Both options will help prevent the foot sweat no one likes to talk about and therefore ward off those nasty blisters.

Sports-Related Magazine Subscription

A year-long subscription to a magazine relevant to your loved one’s sport of choice will provide toilet reading material for a year at the low cost of $12-25 (depending on the magazine). It’s an easy and fun way they can get excited or motivated and won’t dent your wallet.

Race Entry

A trail running race entry is on my Christmas wish-list every year—it’s an excellent gift for runners with a never-ending bucket list of races or for gym-rats who need extra motivation in the new year.

If you sign up too, it’s a fun experience to share. Keep in mind that there are lots of options outside of the traditional road races. Obstacle Races are popular among those who don’t necessarily like running but want to challenge the work they’ve put in at the gym. If the gym isn’t their thing, but they love spending time in the great outdoors, a trail race is a perfect opportunity to explore the outdoors in a safe and supported environment.

If you want to add an element of adventure to your holiday gift, make it a destination race.

My boyfriend and I love to gift ourselves with races in places we’ve never been before. It’s a unique way to vacation in a new place and is something we can get excited about together for the months leading up to it.

Coach or Personal Trainer

A coach or prescribed training plan is an ideal pairing to the gift of a race entry. There are thousands of online coaches for reasonable prices that can be hired for a specific amount of time (say, the months leading up to the race), each who specializes in different events.

A few sessions with a personal trainer can go a long way in lending motivation and learning to navigate the gym. I know for me, a cause for gym-aversion is feeling lost among the cardio machines and the lifting machines that look suspiciously like medieval torture devices. An expert to show them the ropes offers the first steps of consistency.

Sports Nutrition

Whether it’s protein powder or concentrated, fast burning sugar and carbohydrates in gel form, food engineered to aid in athletics are expensive. Wrapping up some gels, recovery drinks or bars will help to literally fuel the athletic endeavors of your pal, while saving them the money they would’ve spent on sports nutrition.

If you’re stumped on their preferred method of fueling or what flavor of post-workout protein powder they use to recover, a more universal product like Run Gum, a caffeinated gum that would boost any workout regardless of discipline.

Self-Massage Tools

They’ll curse your name while using it, but bless you when they come out of their workouts injury free.

Athlete or not, any person can benefit from using self-massage tools such as Roll Recovery, a standard foam roller or Trigger Point Tools. If your athletic friend or partner has a niggle or injury that they are dealing with, there is likely a tool explicitly made to treat it.

Otherwise, there different styles of massage tools ranging in price and method—the standard Foam Roller being the cheapest and most versatile.

Pull-Up Bar

There’s nothing more gratifying than getting strong in your own home. But having to get onto the floor to do your core work can make it easy to skip.

Putting a pull-up bar in a doorway is a great way to bang out some strength work.

I was gifted a pull-up bar last Christmas and put, after putting it up I committed to do pull-ups or hanging crunches every time I walked through. Admittedly, I haven’t stayed true to that commitment, but having the pull-up bar has encouraged me to do far more strength work than I would have otherwise.

Recovery Sandals

Our feet take a beating at the gym and on the trail, so it’s only fair to treat them right when we’re done.

Even if your loved one has never considered a pair of recovery sandals for walking around the house after a tough workout, they’ll definitely use them. Look for a brand made from mostly EVA and that has a lot of arch support. The soft shoe will be something to look forward to after a tough run or day at the gym.

Along with my pull-up bar, I was gifted Oofos last Christmas. I’ve worn them every day since. However, HOKA, Adidas and Nike make their own version that I’m sure are just as effective.