Tis the season to be jolly . . . and  to buy your loved ones lots of expensive things. But shopping for an athlete is difficult, because often times people are very particular about what type of gear, nutrition, and peripherals they use. For a successful holiday, ask yourself these three things before purchasing a fitness related gift!

Will they actually use it?

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Probably not practical

That 5-in-1 utility jacket with built in Bose speakers and camelback may sound like a fantastic idea, but when it weighs in at 50 lbs, perhaps it is not the most practical of gifts. Think light-weight, versatile, and stylish. Also think about things that aren’t “game changing”. The less overall impact on the persons routine that your gift will have, the better it will most likely be. This may seem pretty counter-intuitive, but if the item doesn’t force a change of habit (especially if they are hard set and already training and in a groove) then it will most likely be fairly easy to use.

Be careful with nutritional products too, as people are pretty hard set in whatever muscle milk, vitamin shot block or hydration mix they use. Find out what they use exactly, or perhaps get them a gift card to where they can buy more of it.

Would I want to pick this out for myself if I needed one?

Some people are incredibly particular about what they use, often down to their underwear. My general rule of thumb is this: If I were to get one of these, would I want to pick it out myself? I’m thinking things like Bikes, snow-shoes, and major ticket items that are highly variable. This probably depends on the person to some degree, so if you have an extremely picky loved one, maybe forgo the huge surprise and try to test the waters and get brands or model names and numbers.

One good strategy is to be aware of what models they already use, and don’t stray too far from them. It doesn’t hurt to do a little bit of leg work and figure out exact year and models!

Do they have a store to exchange it?

This may not be a tactful point, but honestly it should be considered. Despite our best efforts some items won’t hit the mark, but it truly is the thought that counts. Gift receipts and the ability to go swap for something else is just as good! I am a big proponent of shopping local, but perhaps in this case a national or regional chain may be your best bet. Think about it!