December 1, 2004

Wrap Your Fitness Wish in Fun ; Put a Little Hop, Bongo or Air Surfing Under Tree

Let me sum up the secret to staying in shape in one word:


If exercising doesn't make you happy, you're not going to do it. After all, for many of us, being miserable doesn't require running until our joints scream or torturing ourselves in a weight room that smells like a sweat sock. It can be as simple as waking up.

Fitness has to be something you look forward to; it can't feel like getting a root canal or cleaning the litter box or listening to an hour of your mother's passive-aggressive criticism.

With that in mind, some of these fitness gifts make life easier, and some of them put the fun in functional. This year, give a gift that says "get off your fat butt" so you don't actually have to say it yourself and risk suffering the consequences.

Let 'em Bongo, pogo or fly through the air on a hover board - they might not even know they're exercising.

I won't tell if you don't.


Nike MP3RUN 256MB Digital Audio Player $300

* This is the workout partner that helps you reach your goals and never slows you down. The MP3RUN tracks your speed, pace and distance and gives you an update whenever you want. The rest of the time, work out to your favorite tunes. Just strap the player to your arm, attach the speed sensor to your shoe, plug the headphones into your ears, and you're good to go.

* Available at Niketown and Circuit City stores.

Tanita Body Water % Scales $90-$100

* In the you-can-never-have-too-much-information department, Tanita has created a souped-up scale that measures weight, body fat and body water percentage. Great for the active exerciser or heavy- duty dieter, this scale can let them know if they're turning fat into muscle and if they're getting enough water in the process.

* For more info: or call



MagneTowel $13

* Stumped about where to hang that sweaty gym towel when you're working out? The MagneTowel has the answer: a magnet sewn into the corner keeps it off the floor and out of the way. And a bonus: Two big Velcro pockets hold money, keys, phone - whatever.

* To order: 866-562-5487 or

Flybar 1200 $300

* Here's a toy for the person who has everything - and still wants a pogo stick. And what a pogo stick! The Flybar 1200 propels that old-time toy into the 21st century and beyond. Developed by pro skateboarder Andy Macdonald and SBI Enterprises, this turbocharged, high-tech pogo feels like a trampoline and can bounce a rider more than 5 feet in the air. Up, up and away!

* Suitable for ages 14 and up and riders from 80 to 250 pounds.

* Available through

Sony EyeToy: AntiGrav package for PlayStation 2 $50

* This is one video game that your tater tots might get off the couch to play. No joystick here - players move their own bodies to guide the hoverboarder through wild aerial tricks and turns, dodging obstacles and hazards on their way to gear upgrades and victory. Play against other gravity-defying boarders. Ideal for snowboard or skateboard enthusiasts and for the kid who's beaten every game he has and needs an interactive challenge that will burn some energy.

* Package includes EyeToy USB camera.

* Available at EBGames, GameStop, Target and Toys "R" Us.


180s Convertible Running Glove $20

ExoLite ear warmer $30

* For the runner in your life, give the gift of warmth for those cold-sensitive fingers and ears. The Convertible Running Glove features a windproof hood that can protect the fingertips and then be pulled back and tucked into the cuff when the hand overheats. And there's a sweat wipe built into the back of the glove to wipe that drippy brow.

* As for those ears, the ExoLite ear warmer, made of a moisture- wicking, breathable stretch fabric, promises to stay dry and warm without becoming too hot during a hard-core run. They're light as feathers and designed to stay put no matter what. After the marathon is over, they fold up and fit neatly into a pocket.

* Available at Gart, Galyan's and REI or order online at

Sole Mates Memory Foam Massaging Slippers $25

* Somebody you know have sore feet? The answer might be a pair of HoMedics battery-operated Memory Foam Massaging Slippers, which promise a soothing foot massage in addition to keeping tootsies toasty. Each terry cloth slipper requires two AA batteries for cordless, one-button operation. Comes in sizes small to large.

* Available at Mervyn's, Ulta, Walgreens, Kmart, Kohl's and Bed, Bath & Beyond

Personal Blender from Tribest $60

* Make your own smoothie-to-go with the compact Personal Blender. Easy to use, easy to clean, easy to carry, it comes with two single- serving cups with their own lids. Make a protein drink in your own cup, then mix up a banana- berry smoothie for a friend in the other cup, with no cleanup in between. A separate attachment turns it into a coffee grinder. Small but mighty.

* To order: personal or 888-254-7336. Also available at Williams-Sonoma in the Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

Bongo Board $80

* A blast from the past! If you grew up in the '60s, you might remember this simple board/roller combo that pushed your balance to the limits. This cool updated version is the perfect gift for the skier, snowboarder or skater on your list, or for anyone who wants to strengthen those all-important core muscles. Know any frustrated Colorado surfers? Ride the Bongo wave! Cowabunga!

* To order: or 1-800-FITTER1. Also available at Healthstyles, 84th and I-25 in Thornton. 303-412-0011.

Nautilus SelectTech Dumbbells $399

* If you've got more money than space to devote to a home gym, the Nautilus SelectTech Dumbbell set is just the ticket. These two adjustable weights do the work of 15 pairs with just the turn of a dial, letting you pick the weight from 5 to 52.5 pounds. How can this be? The secret is the patented mechanism that locks in the proper number of plates for the weight you select. Up the weight in 2.5-pound increments to 25 pounds and in 5-pound increments above that - perfect for lightweight and muscle-bound alike.

* To order: 1-800-782-4799 or Nautilus Available in Denver at Healthstyles Warehouse, 755 Vallejo St., 303-825-3810.