The real gift of fitness….


Black Friday is almost upon us.  Shopping season begins in earnest this Friday, and in this weakened economy, all our hard earned money will soon be flushed down the toilet of under-appreciation.  Before you go spend money on fitness gifts for your loved ones this holiday season, please read this column from the past.  I put it up this time last year and it rings true now more than it did last year.

Please check back this Friday for Part III of,  My Dyslexic Body-Image; I Blame Me.  Peace.  rc

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How deep will you reach into your pockets this gift giving season? Not as deep as last year I would say. Will your list of holiday recipients be shortened in this difficult economy? Very likely. And those for whom you do buy for, is it safe to suggest you will choose your gifts more wisely than in years past? Indeed.

The economy is slowing down. Still, the American requirement to give at holiday time is now a habit deeply etched deep into our psyche; one forged in the red, white, and blue traditions of consumption, guilt, and one-ups-manship. Giving from deep pockets, even if those pockets are empty, is a habit not easily stopped.

It’s the time to give again. Expectations born from history are at an all time high. Pockets, ironically born of that same history, are more shallowthan they have been in decades. Decisions are difficult. Guilt grows. Stress increases. What to do?

In recent years, fitness related gifts have been pretty big during the holidays. Retail exercise devices such as strength training machines, cardio equipment exercise balls and mats, DVDs, and even personal training sessions have been placed under the tree, stuffed into stockings, and placed beside the menorah with the best of intentions.

Take a quick inventory of your house; check your guest room, your garage, your basement, or your patio for a moment. Those are the areas where home workout gear is usually stowed – lost, to be truthful. Go ahead, measure the dust on the BowFlex. Pick the boxes of tax returns up off the treadmill and see if the sales tag is still attached. Has that exercise ball even been inflated yet? The exercise mat has certainly made a great dog bed, hasn’t it?

With that glimpse of history, I suggest that giving fitness related items this holiday season would not be a wise investment of your weakening dollar. Still, fitness should be at the very top of your giving priorities – most everyone needs improved fitness and wellness. Though your past intentions have been good, you may have been placing the wrong fitness gifts under the tree. You have been giving things, which are the wrong things. The things you give are expensive, unused, and not what the recipient has ever really needed.

This year, the economic conditions are just right for you to change directions, and give creatively, economically, and from the heart. This season, give your loved ones energy, time, and commitment, to aid them in tier quest for improved fitness. These are not only free, they will offer much more meaning – and utility.

Below are just a few examples of possible giving, that will cost you nothing, and will likely help your loved ones more than any BowFlex or any Pilates ball ever would. These are just examples of gifts that give, but do not cost. Consider that; gifts that give, but do not cost.

  • Encouragement

Go out on a limb, give the gift of encouragement. A treadmill is nothing without a reason to use it. Skip the $500 – $4,000 price tag, and give your loved one a $1.25 greeting card; one with a hand-written list inside of the many reasons to take a long walk, to go for a jog, or to do push-ups, squats, and crunches during TV commercials. Remind them, in your own handwriting, of why it is important to move. Let them read your words, from the outside looking in, of who benefits from, and what the dividends will be paid from exercise had. Encourage them to just do it, and on behalf of their loved ones as well as themselves – and don’t be afraid to name names. Encouragement might be a beautiful gift.

  • Time

Dig deep; give the gift of time. Don’t have $400 dollars to buy your loved one a gym membership this year? Be their baby sitter for 2 evenings per week so they can hit the fitness trail at the local park, do the afore mentioned jog or walk, or the TV time workout. Buy them a card, and in that card place an IOU for an amount of time that they would not otherwise have. Cover for them at work if you can. Pick up the kids from them and take them out to dinner. Or, take over their car pool one day per week if you can. Offer to mow their lawn, do their grocery shopping, do their laundry, and just give ‘em some time. Time doesn’t have to mean time to exercise either. Perhaps they already exercise but struggle to find time to pre-cook or prepare healthy meals for the week. That kind of time could be just as valuable for some.

  • Partnership

Give the gift of partnership. Even if your fitness is more advanced than that of your loved one, give of yourself and workout with them. Don’t have them do your workout, do theirs with them and encourage them along the way.  You will both benefit from the investment of your time and partnership. Lead by example and go with them for a walk, or a run. Give of yourself and show them the way. If you don’t know the way yourself, give them the gift of your commitment – your partnership, participation, and assure them that you will learn fitness together.

In troubling economic times, when we really need to check ourselves – to take inventory of how we live, how we spend, and why we spend, could there be any better holiday gift than a gift that gives but does not cost? Sounds downright old fashioned to me, and profoundly appropriate under the current economic circumstances. Make this holiday season an old fashioned one; give of yourself and make a real difference. Be well. rc

2 responses

  1. Great tips. I often have to keep in mind the last one when I workout with my husband. I have this need to feel greedy and irritated that he maybe cannot do all of the things that I do and they way I do them. Very selfish of me.

    On another note I do agree with that insatiable need to buy, buy, buy around the holidays even if you don’t have the money to cover it. It is America at it’s worst. And there is this feel if you do not do that then you are less worthy. I’d love to change that culture.

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