Whether you're wrapping up some last-minute Christmas shopping for the fitness buff on your list or wondering how you'll tackle your exercise resolutions in 2011, you can't go wrong with one of these budget-friendly fitness buys:
iPod Shuffle, $49 (Apple Store). Hardy and feather-light, the simple 2-gigabyte iPod Shuffle is a gym staple. The built-in clip means no fussing with an armband. Personalize it by having a message engraved when you order online or by uploading a favorite workout playlist.
Philips Earhook Headphones, $23 (Amazon). Want relief from standard ear buds? The soft caps of these headphones fit comfortably even in small ears, and flexible over-the-ear hooks keep them in place through sweat and rigorous workouts.
Swiss ball, $32 (Amazon). Everyone should have an inflatable balance ball for improving core stability, according to Seattle-based trainer John Verd. They're versatile, portable, and easy to use, and no one will mind having an extra ball for the office or the road.
Eco Vessel Water Filtration Bottle, $37 (Eco Vessel). BPA-free stainless steel bottles have become the fitness water bottle of choice. The 27-ounce stainless steel Eco Vessel has its own water filtration system and keeps water cool for hours.
Sports Hoop, $39 (Amazon). Large, weighted hula hoops are a fun addition to cardio and strength-training workouts, especially for the person looking to firm up his or her core. This 4-pound sports hoop dissembles, tucking easily into a gym bag.
Resistance band set, $46 (Bodylastics). A great gift for frequent travelers, resistance bands can be used to increase strength, range of motion, and postural stability, "particularly after you've been sitting at a desk, on an airplane, or in a meeting all day," says trainer Mark Verstegen, director of performance for the NFL Players Association and founder of the website Core Performance. The basic Bodylastics set includes four bands of varying resistance levels, plus handles, ankle straps, door anchors, and a travel bag.
Magazine subscription, $10-$25. Give your loved one a year's worth of sizzling workouts and healthy recipes with a subscription to Men's Health or Fitness, or satisfy the specialist on your list with a subscription to Runner's World, Whole Living, or Powder magazines.
Body Bar, $26 and up (Body Bar). More versatile than dumbbells, these weighted bars can be used for a vast range of resistance, balance, and body-sculpting exercises such as leg lifts and shoulder presses. I've found that a bar ranging between 9 to 18 pounds is ideal for most exercises.
Buddy Lee Jump Rope, $12-$40 (Buddy Lee Jump Ropes). "Some jump ropes are built to last 10 minutes and others a lifetime," says John Romaniello, a New York-based trainer. Created by Buddy Lee, a ten-time Olympic medalist, these jump ropes are durable, adjustable, and have swivel handles for a smooth workout.
Kettlebell, $20-50 (Amazon). Kettlebells have overtaken dumbbells in many cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training systems. KettleWorx offers 5-, 10-, 15- and 20-pound kettlebells for under $50, and each is vinyl-coated to protect the floor.
Valslide, $35 (Valslide). Created by celebrity trainer Valerie Waters, this simple training tool is an easy-to-use version of the slide board;slippery on one side, these pieces of plastic tuck over the hands or feet to facilitate smooth movements in exercises like lunges and mountain climbers, and are easy to take on the go.
The 4-Hour Body, $15 (Borders). Author Tim Ferriss's new book is an ultra-efficient guide to improving physical performance, finding balance, and staying fit. No wonder it's on every fitness enthusiast's wish list.
Foam roller, $23 (Sears). Romaniello swears by foam rollers, high-density foam cylinders used for releasing tension before and after a workout. Foam rollers are available in a range of sizes and density levels and can also be purchased from retailers like Target and Amazon. For those new to foam rolling, choose one that comes with video instruction.
Dance lessons, $10-$40. Invite your loved ones to work up a sweat with swing, salsa, or tango lessons at your local dance studio. Many offer gift certificates for single and ongoing group, couple, or private lessons.
Fitbook, $23 (getfitbook.com). Small enough to fit in a gym bag, Fitbook notebooks provide a 12-week plan for achieving fitness goals and tracking progress, with fitness resources included. Check out fitbook PINK, fitbook junior, and the sleek fitbook BLACK.
Chelsea Bush writes for AskFitnessCoach, a blog that promotes fitness and weight loss for "real" people.