For Valentine’s Day, help her be as strong as your love. Here’s a guide to goodies for your beloved fitness-oriented girl – ahem, grrrl – that will keep you at the top of her list.
Chocolate. You better believe grrrls want chocolate. Chocolate that won’t sit in our stomachs during a work out, give us a sugar crash, make us feel fat, guilty, or like we have to brush our teeth. We’re talking whole food chocolate. This mind-blowing stuff is made with just cocoa, nuts, dates, maybe a little fruit – stuff like that, and it tastes amazing. I love Labarar’s delectable Jocalat bars and the similar Clif Nectar bars.
A blender. As Krista Scott says, generally one has to tread carefully when getting household items for women for romantic occasions, but pair it with a big jug of protein powder and you should be cool. The Kitchen Aid commercial blender is the Cadillac.
And/or a blender bottle – not the kind with a motor, but this innovative and effective low-tech one with a wire whisk-like ball inside.
Whether you are a grrrl, or have a sister or daughter, you know that grrls like to hit things. Give her something to beat on besides you. Any grrl will be delighted with the right bag to punch or kick. Check Title Boxing or Everlast for a variety of heavy bags, speed bags, and martial arts bags. If she’s into cardio kickboxing, she’s probably used to a freestanding bag with a water-filled base.
Everlast Evergel Glove Wraps rock. She can wear them under bag gloves as a convenient and more protective alternative to handwraps, or alone for light bag work, mitts, speed bag, grappling and more.
Then get her a real pair of G&S bag gloves, instead of those cheap ones from the sports store. Twelve ounces should be fine, and they’re very helpful in figuring out fit if you call.
Weight Training & Lifting
If she lifts freeweights, get her women’s weightlifting gloves. The new Harbinger women’s 1255 are choice wristwrap gloves with high-tech fabrics and a gel palm.
Must-have – Give her a set of Muscle Clamps to secure plates on the bar and you’ll make her life easier, safer, and you’ll save her nails. If she has a home gym with a bar, believe me, she needs these.
Pretty little things… She’ll light up with highly useful microweights to inch up load progressively. Get her at least one pair of magnetized Platemates and one of their travel bags if she’ll be leaving the house with them. They’re just common sense.
Chalk – ball, block, or loose – and a cool bag or bowl.You can get creative with the bowl – something large and ceremonial, made from wood, stainless steel, or pottery.
If she’s into deadlifts or Olympic weightlifting, and you want to make a deep-pocketed splash and see her jump up and down, get her a set of bumper plates. There are lots of sources for these, and most of them aren’t cheap. The best deal I’ve found is Kraiburg brand, available with free shipping from eSportsOnline on Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can just get her a pair at 10 or 15 lbs. to start off with, because she can always add a few regular plates onto the bar in addition to these.
I know some folks will heave and sputter when I recommend a gadget called the Bun and Thigh Roller, but I’ll defend this one. Sure, it’s marketed as something Suzanne Sommers might sell, but it is effective in training all the small, deep glute and hip muscles involved in squatting and deadlifting, like the rotators, multifidi, etc. And what’s really unusual, it allows her to train them for extended periods safely, even if she has back or knee problems or goes heavy and low enough to get them.
Strength & Conditioning
A gift certificate to Home Depot – so she can stock up on chains, sledgehammers, sand bag materials, a wheel barrow, and other low-tech implements.
A weighted vest. Score yourself points if she thinks she weighs too much by telling her she’s not heavy enough and needs the added weight.
A good medicine ball, or a bunch of good medicine balls. This one carried by Better Fitness is gel-filled.
Body Bag – Big, hulking sandbags so named because they’ll work your body, and you’ll think you need a bodybag after a work out.
Strong Man Log – Yes, THE log you’ve seen in strongman events (although you may have seen shiny versions – this one is made from an actual log). If she’s hardcore, strong, and she seems to have everything…she’ll flip over this. Various weights available.
Give her a way to pull herself up, and she’ll pull you into her arms. Again Faster has taken the pull-up bar and made it accessible to athletes everywhere. This innovative device beats being confined to the local gym for pull-ups, and it definitely beats a doorway-mounted forehead-smacker.
You’ve got it pretty easy if she’s into yoga. Yoga.com is a vast one-stop resource where you can get her a mat, towel, prop, book, DVD, music CD, clothes, even little statues and meditation stuff if she’s into the spiritual side. Also see mineral make-up below.
Clothes, Make-up, Etc.
Clothes may be too tough to pick out for her, but personally, I don’t see why gift certificates get knocked. There’s nothing better than picking out something nice that I wouldn’t otherwise buy for myself. Work out clothes and casual clothes catering to the tomboy who values quality are – Athleta, Title 9, Activa (They have the most complete line of the coveted Moving Comfort brand, fitness clothes by women, for women), and Prana. Prana also has a particularly fun line of fitness accessories like cool chalk bags and yoga mats, rugs and ropes. No Sweat has great, affordable clothing that’s made only by union workers, no sweatshops.
Believe me, finding a good sports bra is NOT easy. Turn her on to X-Chrom and she’ll never forget you. They carefully select sports bras (good brands like Champion and Donna Karan) and rank them in a stringent and detailed rating system that rivals NASA’s missile-ranking systems (I’m guessing). Also great if she has any special considerations like nursing, mastectomy or if she’s post-op.
Buff Headwear takes bandanas a step further. This multifunctional headwear is basically a seamless, microfiber tube that can be worn over the head in a number of ways. They wick moisture, provide UV protection, are built for the season, and come in an astonishing variety of colors and patterns. These things are so great that you might just want to get one for yourself, whether you’ll use it in the gym or not.
An Aquis Adventure Microfiber Towel is something she’ll use all the time. It is more absorbent and gentler on hair than cotton. She’ll dry faster after hitting the shower, and the towel will dry faster than a cotton towel, so it stays fresher between uses. Great whether she’s into saving time or caring for her hair. Various sizes.
Mineral make-up – Whether she sweats or glows, when her face is dusted with pulverized minerals, her looks will stick. Mineral make-up isn’t like conventional make-up. She doesn’t have to wash it off before a work out or even for sleep. It’s light, good for skin, and actually fun. Even if she’s not “into” make-up – especially if she’s not – she may like playing with mineral make-up. Alima is a women-owned company in Portland, Oregon that only uses minerals in its line (lots of so-called mineral make-ups are junked up with stuff), and the company benefits good causes and seems to care about its contribution to the world. Bare Minerals is probably the most famous. They’re all about making money, but their mineral veil, with smooth, velvety cornstarch, is still my favorite. Both companies are happy to sell you certificates or kits already to go, wrapped up pretty.
Shadow Boxers, a film on DVD by Katya Bankowsky, is truly inspirational for any woman, not just boxing fans.
This riveting behind-the-scenes look into the world of the female boxing takes us from manicures to knockouts. It turns our attention to the woman who is widely considered pound for pound the most dangerous fighter of any time, undefeated boxing sensation Lucia Rijker”
The new book Lift With Your Head: The Training and Movement Philosophies of the Physical Subculture by Chip Conrad offers inspiration and instruction for old-fashioned and innovative strength training for any level. If she hankers for recess in her adult life, if she’s turned off by today’s corporately-run gyms, if she wants to feel better without all the drudgery of “three 12-rep sets” and 12-week programs, this book is for her.
A Woman’s Book of Strength by Karen Andes is a great instructional gift for the beginning to intermediate weight trainer, and the essays are nourishing food for thought for any level of interest or training.
Brother Iron, Sister Steel by Dave Draper is a modern classic on bodybuilding.
Michael Pollan sums up his new, refreshingly logical book In Defense of Food this way: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Aaah.
Achille’s Choice by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes is a futuristic tale of Olympic athletes and one woman who stays all-natural in the face of advanced technologies.
Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder by Samuel Fussell is the quintessential expose on the steroid bodybuilding life. It’s sure to grip, fascinate and entertain any reader who appreciates a ripping good read on a bizarre subculture. Fabulous black humor.
Chemical Pink by Katie Arnoldi is the female version of the bodybuilding expose. Differences are that she is sexually victimized by her sponsor, she’s raising a daughter, and it’s humorless.
Iron Maidens: The Celebration of the Most Awesome Female Muscle in the World by Kristin Kaye. This hilarious true story of trying to manage female bodybuilders in a variety show is for anyone who has ever found fate in a wrong number, who has aspired to create something meaningful, to be the best she can be, to succeed, and wound up losing control of the plane speeding full-throttle into the mountainside.
Picturing the Modern Amazon is a gorgeous coffeetable book produced to accompany an art exhibit about strong women and bodybuilders, at the New York Museum of Contemporary Art in 2000.
Four more that look terrific but I haven’t seen yet because – ahem – they are on my list are –
Game Face: What does the Female Athlete Look Like? by Jane Gottesman – collection of photos
– The Modern Amazons : Warrior Women on Screen by Dominique Mainon
– Women of the Olympia: The Phenomenon of Women’s Bodybuilding by George Snyder
Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture by Sherrie A. Inness
To make life even easier for the grrls, this article is also available as a handy PDF [536kb]. Just print it out, circle the relevant areas and leave it lying around. Perfect.