By Jill Duffy
Find the perfect gift for the runners and self-quantifiers in your life with these 15 amazing fitness gadgets.
Looking for a great gift for the active person in your life? Or maybe you’re shopping for a device that a loved one has been eyeing, hoping it will motivate them to move more. You’re in luck. This year, a glorious cache of fitness tech products are hitting store shelves and the Web.
Consumer devices for exercise, fitness, and home health are booming. Collectively, they come at a wide range of prices, serve a number of different purposes, and are better in quality and more accurate than ever before.
Here are 15 of my favorite fitness tech gifts to give everyone to from the couch-to-5K optimist to the Crossfit fanatic in your life.
For the Couch-to-5K Crowd
If you know someone who is just getting started with fitness, I have two recommended gifts, and they’re both activity trackers:
Misfit Flash$24.99 at Dell
At $49, the Misift Flash is the best entry-level activity tracker you can buy for less than a hundred bucks. That price makes it a great gift. It lacks some sophisticated features that veteran fitness enthusiasts might want, but first-timers will find a lot to love. It’s also a waterproof tracker and totally safe for swimming.
Jawbone UP Move$49.99 at Amazon
The exceedingly similar Jawbone UP Move hits that same low price, but has some key differences. It’s not waterproof, but it does a better job of tracking sleep. Plus, it has a really interesting integration with an app that tracks your caffeine intake to figure out whether too much joe is affecting your Zzzs. For restless sleepers and first time-trackers, the UP Move is a great gift.
More athletically inclined friends and family will love these fitness gifts.
Garmin Forerunner 15$139.00 at Amazon
Anything from Garmin’s Forerunner brand is a dream come true for most runners, and the Garmin Forerunner 15 is one of my favorites. In addition to being a runner’s watch, it also counts how many steps you take in a day, incorporating everyday fitness into your loved one’s self-quantification.
TomTom Multi-Sport$191.20 at Amazon
Do you know someone training for their first triathlon? Tri-athletes will love the TomTom Multi-Sport, an excellent watch with GPS and a huge display that transitions effortlessly from pavement to pool. The easy-to-reach buttons (which respond well even when you’re wearing gloves) show that this sports watch was designed with true athletes in mind.
MIO Link$89.09 at Amazon
Many athletes look at heart rate while they’re training. The most comfortable standalone heart rate monitor I’ve ever worn is the MIO Link. This $99 wrist strap has an indicator light that changes color as you get your heart rate into different zones. It’s amazingly efficient and effective.
Ithlete Finger Sensor
If you know someone who already has it all, I bet that person doesn’t have an Ithlete device, which measures heart rate variability. Ithlete is a finger cup sensor that plugs into an iPad or iPhone and reads your HRV, which is essentially a score that tells you it’s safe to train hard today or that your body needs rest.
Jaybird Reign$199.99 at Best Buy
Jaybird Reign, a wrist-worn activity tracker available in three colors, includes heart rate variability readings, similar to the ones that Ithlete takes. But the Jabird Reign also does all the basic fitness tracking stuff, too, like measure how many steps you take and how much sleep you get.
For the gym rat or Crossfit enthusiast in your life, these three gifts will absolutely blow their minds.
Athos Smart Workout Pants
$99, plus $199 for one core (tracker component)
The Athos Smart Workout Pants certainly blew my mind. They’re compression-style pants for men or capris for women that have built-in electromyography (EMG) sensors that measure electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles. In laymen’s terms, the sensors measure how hard your muscles are working, which you can see in a connected mobile app. They track both the left and right side of the glueteus, inner quadriceps, outer quadriceps, and hamstrings, as well as heart rate. And with the mobile app, the pants automatically track your sets and reps, total workout time, and more. Amazing!
Hexoskin Smart Shirt$399.00 at Amazon
Another smart workout wearable is the Hexoskin Smart Shirt. This top feels like any other active wear, but it tracks your heart rate, breathing rate, speed, cadence, and other data while you work out. You can also use it to test your heart rate variability, which is an indication of whether your body has recovered enough from a previous workout to get at it again full-force today. Both the Hexoskin shirt and Athos pants are washable—just remember to remove the little electronic tracker that attaches to them first.
The Push Band (review coming soon) is an arm strap that analyzes your weight-lifting and strength-training exercises as you’re doing them to count sets and reps in a companion app, and show data for velocity and power. It’s very simple to use, with just one button and one indicator light, and comfortable to wear.
Self-quantifiers, or people who obsessively track a variety of data points about themselves, can try these
Basis Peak$199.99 at MyBasis
What I love about the Basis Peak activity tracker is that it’s entirely automated. This smart wristwatch figures out on its own when you’re sleeping, walking, running, and bicycling. How does it do it? By using an optical heart rate monitor, skin temperature sensors, and smart motion detectors, it pieces together information and makes very good guesses. For effortless tracking, the Basis Peak is astounding.
Netatmo June$99.00 at Amazon
Here’s something the self-quantifier in your life might not yet be quantifying: sun exposure. The June by Netatmo is an elegant piece of jewelry that keeps track of how much sun exposure you get and alerts you when it’s time to cover up. It even takes note of the UV index for the day, and adjusts its recommendations based on the fairness of your skin. It’s a bit of a one-trick pony, but from a fashion point of view, it’s undeniably charming.
QardioArm$99.00 at Amazon
Do you know someone who would become giddy at the prospect of taking their blood pressure and heart rate every single day, and automatically having it logged in an app? Get that person a QardioArm. This wireless at-home blood pressure monitor is dead-simple to use and designed to look more like a something Apple might make than a medical device.
For the Curious
Some fitness and health enthusiasts are curious to play with technology and see what’s on the bleeding edge. These two gifts will make those kinds of people very happy.
InteraXon Muse$299.00 at Amazon
How cool would it be to measure the state of your brain, whether it’s focused or distracted? And how extra cool would it be to train your mind to become more focused, and see your progress over time? Muse is a headband that monitors the electrical activity of your brain, and pairs with a mobile app to coach you through mind exercises. This at-home EEG machine may sound ridiculously complicated, but the device and its app, Muse Calm, make the experience remarkably easy.
Sen.se Mother$199.99 at Amazon
A great gift for tinkering self-quantifiers and people interested in the connected home movement will go gah-gah for Mother. Made by French company Sen.se, Mother is a kit that you set up to track whatever you want. She looks like a mod Matryoshka with a glowing eyes and a Mona Lisa grin. Acting as a hub, the Mother connects to Motion Cookies (four are included), which are small sensors that can be programmed using a simple app to measure or track a whole variety of things about you and your home, including how much activity and sleep you get, whether your kids brushed their teeth, and when you took your medication. It’s a fascinating device.