NBC News Shopping readers have a voracious appetite for working out, and recommendations (and recently gift ideas) like indoor stationary bikes, relatively affordable spin bikes and exercise face masks have quickly become monthly reader-favorite items. With cases of Covid-19 rising, and the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention having recently advised against traveling this Thanksgiving, your loved ones are likely looking to work up a sweat indoors this holiday season. Enter smart fitness gifts: These gadgets and devices, such as the Apple Watch 6 and smart mirrors from brands like Mirror, Tonal and Echelon, track fitness activity in an effort to help enhance your workout routine. To help simplify your holiday gift shopping this season, we rounded up five smart fitness essentials, some of which start at $50. And while you’re here, be sure to check out our holiday gift guide hub, which includes our latest simple guides to the best gifts at major retailers, from Amazon, Walmart and Sephora to REI, Wayfair and Nordstrom, as well as gift guides for those on your list who are into cooking, reading, games for couples, grooming and personalized gifts for everyone else on your list.
Best fitness brands and retailers
Best smart fitness gift ideas
Fitbit, a popular and highly-rated brand of smartwatches and fitness trackers, created the Inspire 2 tracker as a functional and affordable way to monitor your activity, heart rate and sleep quality. There are more than 20 exercise modes to choose from and you can sport this water-resistant device while showering or swimming as deep as 50 meters. Inspire 2’s battery life is long-lasting, too — one charge allows up to 10 days of use. The under-$100 find also comes with a one-year membership to Fitbit Premium (normally $9.99 a month), a service offering guided workouts and mediations, along with sleep reminders and challenges where you can virtually compete with friends and loved ones. Fitbit released the Inspire 2 in late September, alongside two other smartwatches: Fitbit Sense and Versa 3.
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on smart fitness devices this gift-giving season. Fitbit created an affordable Bluetooth-enabled scale for less than $50 and it tracks your weight, BMI, lean mass and body fat percentage. Fitbit owners can sync their trackers and smartwatches with the Aria Air Scale, which is compatible with the Fitbit app, and it will automatically recognize your weights of multiple people (while only sharing your stats on your private Fitbit account). I’ve owned the Aria scale for two years and find it very accurate. And it’s not just for me (or you). Whenever I weighed my checked suitcases back when flying was normal, it always matched the airline’s baggage scale.
Shopping reader-favorite brand Echelon created the Stride, a treadmill that earned praise from Anthony Crouchelli, master and founding trainer at Grit Bxng, and subsequently earned the top spot on our list of the best treadmills. The “extremely light” Bluetooth-capable machine pairs with your smartphone or tablet so you can access “awesome” fitness classes Echelon created exclusively for the Stride and the “world-class” Echelon community. Your Stride comes with an 18.5-inch-wide monitor that displays vitals such as speed, time spent working out, incline level, among others stats. Place your palms on the heart rate monitor on the handles to see your pulse rate pop up on the monitor. “Echelon offers an extended outreach and connection from their instructors to members daily,” he said. An Echelon United subscription is $40 per month or $400 per year. And if your giftee lives in a small space, rest easy: With a push of a button, the treadmill automatically folds up to a depth of only 10 inches and wheels away for easy storage when not in use.
Encourage your loved one to get fit indoors by treating them to the recently-released Oculus Quest 2, a wire-free virtual reality (VR) headset. The highly-rated Quest 2 boasts built-in speakers, 64 GB of storage and you can cast directly on the Oculus mobile app or a compatible TV screen. The VR headset, which comes with two touch controllers and other accouterments, has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 3,500 Amazon reviews. The lightweight Quest 2 gets you access to the Oculus App Store filled with a plethora of free and premium content, including Supernatural, an immersive subscription fitness app. For $19 per month, you can workout indoors while taking in the virtual scenery of exotic locales such as Machu Picchu, Peru and Blue Lagoon, Iceland, all from the comfort (and safety) of your home. Supernatural comes with a library of workouts broken down by intensity — low, medium and high — along with stretching and meditation classes with varied playlists, like Sweat Symphony and Meditation Basics, so you don’t get bored.
According to Karena Wu, PT a physical therapist and owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy, a foam roller is a great way to self-massage your body’s soft tissues. “Massage is an ‘irritant’ to the soft tissues that brings blood flow, which then helps with fluid movement and promotes healing because blood carries nutrients and oxygen. So, getting this type of compressive massage therapy helps break up tightness or ‘knots’ in the tissues,” she previously told our friends at NBC BETTER. Theragun, a popular brand in the massage gun space, made a smart foam roller with five vibration intensities so that you can customize your at-home recovery routine with ease. Wave boasts a three-hour battery life and is Bluetooth-compatible, allowing it to pair with the Therabody app, which has a collection of guided foam roller routines for different parts of your body and others tailored to your fitness goals. It’s also made from high-density foam to help prevent excess noise and has grooves throughout for smoother traction as you roll the 12-inch Theragun Wave down your back or legs.
Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Looking for the perfect gift? Check out the Shop TODAY Holiday Plaza.