How To Give A Fitness Gift (Without Getting The Side-Eye)

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IntroPhoto: Courtesy of Soap.com; Creative Gift Packaging.
Second-Shift Athlete, an anti-judgement fitness site launched by two busy women with full-time jobs, isn't the place to find out how to drop 15 lbs in 15 days, or to get the perfect anything, really. They're not doctors or personal trainers, professional athletes, or paragons of virtue. But, that’s the point.

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then there are a lot of fitness freaks in hell who say things like, “Oh, did you run here too?” Those well-meaning fools just couldn’t help themselves from giving their mom/boss/ex-husband some sort of cheery exercise-oriented holiday gift because they love working out so much and they just know you will too.

But, the majority of fitness gift-givers aren’t malicious. In fact, their motive is (usually) so pure and beautiful it’s actually sweet. They love working out. They cannot imagine a greater gift than something that facilitates that. Therefore, why not pass it on to the people they love the most? We get it — really. This post is written by someone who requested an activity tracker bracelet for her birthday. But, there are rules to making sure your incredibly thoughtful, lovely gift won’t make someone think you’re a jerk — or even worse, feel bad about themselves. Read on before you order that SkyMall treadmill desk for your great aunt.

Web2Photo: Courtesy of Nike; Creative Gift Packaging.
1. Broach the Topic Ahead of Time
“Hey girl, I know the other day you mentioned you wished you could get more exercise during the cold weather months — there’s a cute, super-warm running jacket I’d love to get you for Christmas. Would you like that? Or would you rather me stick to something more holiday-ish, like some crazy sparkly earrings?”

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2. Consider a Do-It-Together Gift
Rather than hit your dad with a pair of running shoes and some side eye at his gut, wrap up a certificate for a class or activity you can do together. Something you know — or at least suspect — the receiver will enjoy. And, preferably something where you’ll have enough breath that you’ll be able to chat during. Rented bikes on a beautiful trail is probably a better bet than a music-pumping spin class.

3. Make It an Ambiguous Gift
As in, stay away from the exercise ball and instead try some in-ear headphones to avoid giving the gift-receiver the feeling of unwrapping something and feeling judged. If you’re trying to give a hint, this advice is especially key. By gifting someone a product that can be used for fitness, you’re giving them the opportunity to make the decision themselves. If they choose to use the headphones simply for commuting, more power to them (and less passive aggressive anger directed at you).

4. If You’re Not 100% Sure About Size, Just Don’t Do Clothes
Getting a pair of jeans a size too big or small is enough of a slight. Why do yourself in by gifting activewear that’s too large (“How big does she THINK I am?”) or small (“Am I supposed to workout until this fits?!”) You know what doesn’t hurt feelings? A gift card. Paired with a headband. Boom.

WEb3Photo: Courtesy of H&M; Creative Gift Packaging.
5. Keep Your Mouth Shut
Even if your gift is a not-so-lightly veiled attempt at getting a loved one to move more for the sake of their health, and you are prepared to ensure a bit of wrath, do not make it so much worse by piping up about their bad habit. “I thought since you’re like, always in front of the TV, you could use this stationary bike!” or “I figured since you love candy so much this yoga mat might help you counteract the effects! Haha!” Not cool. Just gift, smile, and remind them you love them.

6. Know Your Audience
If you’re shopping for someone who you know (for a fact!) is as big of an endorphins junkie as you, no need to follow these rules so closely. Yes, they will probably appreciate your expensive class gift certificate or bright-colored yoga pants, and, with luck, return the favor by gifting you something similarly sporty and awesome. Go fitness friends!

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7. Make It a Celebration, Not a Challenge
Say you’re shopping for your sister-in-law who’s an enthusiastic cyclist and runner. Buy her something that pays tribute to her love for those sports, and not, for pete’s sake, a swimsuit with a note that says “Now you can go for a triathlon!” Same goes for gifting a happy 5k-runner a Camelbak to prepare them for marathon-like distances.

8. There Are Just Some Things You Don’t Buy for Others
A scale is one. NOPE. A HAPIfork that lights up when you’re eating too fast? DOUBLE NOPE. Anything with a combination of the words “miracle” “reshaping” and “no more muffin top!” Just stay away. It’ll knock the breath out of even the most enthused fitness giftee.