Does exercise make a good gift?


December is a strange time of year in the gym world. Things tend to quiet down as schedules get more hectic, and workouts are harder to fit in. But underneath the whir of the treadmill belt and the clanging of weights, something is stirring. Tension builds as January 1st looms, bringing with it a fresh round of New Year’s resolutions. Exercise slackers vow to find that lost membership card, and those who last set foot in a gym wearing leg warmers contemplate a healthier 2012.

Here’s where things get tricky: is exercise a good gift for the loved one in your life, or would such a surprise bring on a North Pole-style cold front? As a trainer, I’ve seen it go both ways, and my advice to you is simple. If your spouse asks for a gym membership or personal training package, by all means, wrap it up and smack a bow on it. But if you’re tired of hearing your wife complain about the extra baby weight, or your husband has been working on the wrong kind of six-pack, and you think a couple of training sessions is just the nudge they need, think again.

Trust me, this strategy WILL NOT WORK. Money will be wasted, feelings will be hurt and you will end up in the dog house. The funny thing about people is they don’t like to be told what to do. And make no mistake, the unsolicited “gift” of a gym membership is sending a painful message. So men, repeat after me: “Unless my partner has specifically said, ‘Gee, I sure would love a package of personal training sessions for Christmas,’ I will not even consider buying said package.”

For those of you who have clearly heard such a request, stay tuned for tips on how to find the right gym and a reputable personal trainer.

So, has anyone gone the exercise gift route and had it backfire big time? How about success stories? I’ll take those too, though they’re not quite as funny.


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