And we’re back: time for company holiday parties, peppermint flavored everything, festive lights casting a rhythmic, blinking, colorful glow and hours of earbleed-inducing Christmas music that we just got out of our heads only recently. Families, shopping, heavy foods and the common cold are enough to send even the most balanced person off the proverbial edge.

Regular exercise is one amazing way to reduce some of these annual stresses. And one amazing thing about the fitness industry is that it is constantly evolving and inventing new ways to keep things interesting and to keep us coming back for more. New equipment, new technology and new fitness fads are as reliable as Black Friday mayhem: fist fights over parking spots, trampling and stampeding the big box stores’ entrances and a manic, frantic drive to get the latest must-have item before anyone else does.

Many fitness-related gadgets eventually disappoint, becoming gimmicks that we’ll forget about by this time next year. Lucky for us, there are many new products out there that don’t disappoint that we’ll be seeing around for many years to come.

In the interest of doing the leg work for you, I have tested out dozens of new products that came across my desk this year to help you out a bit with your holiday shopping list. Some great, some not so much. In addition to my personal opinion and experience, I added a few informative bits from each items’ website.

Merry Christmas.

303 Gaiam pinpoint back massagerPinpoint Back Massager by Gaiam

Release pain in the back, neck and shoulder by applying compression directly to tight, knotted trigger points anywhere they occur, breaking up tension even in the hardest-to-reach muscle areas.

For those of you who are familiar with other massaging tools, rejoice. Gaiam has upped the ante by producing this high-quality, no-nonsense massaging cane at a very competitive price. Perfect for those annoying spasms you cannot reach, or that crick in your neck you woke up with this morning. $24.98

Ultimate Foot Massager by Gaiam

303 Gaiam Ultimate Foot MassagerThis mini massager relieves tightness in hands, arms, legs and feet. Just roll under your feet or over any sore or tired muscle, and feel the soothing stimulation. You control the depth of massage for customized relief. Great for plantar fasciitis and small enough to take with you for use anytime, anywhere.

Probably my favorite item this year. I use this little ball constantly: against the wall for my shoulders, between my hands after a tough cycling class, and under my feet at the end of a long day. Makes for a thoughtful gift to anyone on your list. If you know someone who doesn’t need a little tension relief, send them my way. I’d love to meet them. $5.98

Enso Muscle Roller by EvoFit

Just as I was beginning to think there was no greater tool on Earth than the foam roller, a product like the Enso Roller comes along. 303 Enso Roller II

Through the incorporation of moveable disks, the Enso allows users to massage broader areas (lower back) or pinpoint smaller, isolated muscles (piriformis) all the while avoiding placing pressure on areas that don’t require it. Disks can also be removed from the ends to make [the Enso Roller] a handheld massage device.

This is the only truly customizable foam roller I have seen and I love it. It’s easy to use, to adjust, and to travel with. Regular use over the past few months hasn’t fazed this high-quality roller, either. I’ll keep you posted, but I believe this foam roller will hold its own for a long time. $69

Kettlebell Arm Guards by HumanX303 HumanX KB arm guards

Padded forearm guards cushion against impact and abrasion. Streamlined design of flexible padded inserts in stretch cotton terry conform to forearm — and never interfere with workout.

Still not sure why these things weren’t invented at the same time as kettlebells, but better late than never, right? Such a simple, yet indispensable tool for your own kettlebell workout without looking like a roller derby girl when it’s over. Honestly, I have limited my own use of kettlebells for both myself and clients because of the inevitable bruising. Not anymore. Four colors to choose from and easy on-and-off, these arm guards are a no-brainer. $20

303 HumanX Speed RopeCompetition X4 Speed Rope by HumanX

Our exclusive Triple Axis Dual Bearing Spin mechanism accelerates the cable throughout rotation for a consistent, smooth, and fast swing. The ergonomically-designed 6″ handles have tactified rubber grips that feel great and eliminate slippage. Precision die-cast aluminum heads add just the right amount of weight for enhanced control while jumping. Allen wrench for length adjustment included.

Any product that has undergone such intense thought during inception ought to be given a fair chance in my opinion. Especially when said product comes with its own Allen wrench. I was sold from the get-go on this one. For anyone ready to take their rope jumping to the next extreme, never-thought-you-could-go-this-scary-fast-with-a-jumprope level, this is the speed rope for them. Definitely not for newbies. $25

So there you have it, the easiest, most comprehensive holiday gift guide for every budget I can give to you so that you can give the gift of well-being this year. Click the links for each item for quick access to where you can purchase, and avoid the merrymaking madness of stampedes and fist fights (unless that’s your thing). I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

All photos courtesy of respective companies.

PT-color-headshot-I3Jodilyn Stuart is the Health & Sports Senior Staff Writer for 303 Magazine, owner of ModaBody Fitness, and has been a professional fitness geek since 1997. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]

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