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To mall or not to mall?
Options can make quick work of holiday shopping lists
By Hollis Templeton/Fitbie.com
Here's a selection of workout experts' favorite workout gear items of the year that would make perfect Christmas gifts for the active person on your list.
Bellicon Rebounder, from $629; bellicon-USA.com: "I've been using rebounders for years, and the Bellicon is absolutely perfect. The tension across the mat is excellent — no rolling ankles if you are barefoot — and it's silent — great for apartment living. The different dimensions are also a plus for people who feel safer bouncing on a wider surface." — Ashley Borden, fitness and lifestyle consultant and author of "Your Perfect Fit."
Halo Sport Headphones, $40; haloheadphones.com: "These slickly designed earbuds slide right into a fashionable bandeaux headband that allows you to literally wear your music. No more fussing with headphones while exercising." — Eva Redpath, women's fitness expert.
Zobha Biker Jacket, $140; zobha.com: "This jacket would be cute to wear out or throw on after a yoga class if I'm meeting friends or running errands — super stylish and multi-functional." — Michelle Lovitt, Hollywood-based personal trainer.
TRX Rip Trainer, $190; trxtraining.com: "This resistance cord and bar combination can be used for a fun, dynamic strength-training routine that challenges your control, power, mobility, balance and coordination. And it's completely portable — you can use it anywhere you have a secure anchor point and a bit of room." — Ken Szekretar, New York City-based personal trainer and triathlon coach.
Lululemon Trainer Pant, $108; lululemon.com: "It's hard to find a good pair of workout pants with zipper pockets. Whether you're a trainer or the trainee, having a comfortable pair of training pants where you can hold keys or money without worrying about them falling out is a huge plus." — Steve Ettinger, New York City-based personal trainer and the author of "Wallie Exercises."
PrAna Crissy Jacket, $110; prana.com: "I love to hike and run outdoors, and as the months grow colder and the hours of daylight dwindle, having the right fitness gear to safely exercise outdoors in these cooler temperatures is of the utmost importance to me. I love apparel from prAna — it's always high quality and flattering — and this new item is made of quick-drying material that is perfect for foggy, dewy morning runs along the coast here in San Diego. Plus, I'm a huge fan of the functional thumbholes — they're just so comfortable." — Jessica Matthews, exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise.
GoFit Stability Disk, $25; gofit.net: "This product provides an amazing core workout. It allows for a wider range of motion and forces the body to stabilize, which intensifies the core." — Jackie Warner, celebrity fitness trainer.
3rd Nut Rough and Ready Baseball Cap, $24; 3rdnut.com: "I want this cool hat I saw a golfer wearing. It's super fitted and cute." — Michelle Lovitt.
Maybe you love mall shopping, but I hate almost everything about it: crowds, lines, parking, long walks to the restrooms, lousy food options and overspending brought on by exhaustion, hunger and desperation.
But short of doing all the holiday shopping online, going to the mall is the most efficient way to get a lot done fast.
And with a little guidance (that's where I come in), you can check off a bunch of people on your shopping list in just a few hours, with many of those gifts wrapped, tagged and ready to give with no scissors, tape or further grief — except, of course, paying the credit card bills in the new year.
Savvy shoppers ask
• Do you have complimentary gift wrap?
• Can I have a free box? Tissue paper? Ribbon? Gift tag?
• Are there any gifts with purchase or free samples?
• For bulky or heavy packages: Can you help get this to the car?
• A gift receipt enclosed with the gift, please?
• At the mall: Where is the concierge desk or mall office? (For discount and coupon booklets.)
When to shop
Weekday mornings are best to avoid the usual mall aggravations. Delay is deadly: Shop now; irritations mount as Christmas closes in.
For easier returns
1. Get a big envelope and use it to save every receipt.
2. Before you buy, utter these words: "What's the return policy?"
3. Buying on sale? Make sure it's returnable.
4. Be persistent. Ask for a supervisor if you're not satisfied. Stores want happy shoppers.
5. Enclose a gift receipt with the present.
6. Wait until a few days after Christmas to avoid huge return lines.
Buying for kids
Goal: Keep 'em busy so adults can visit in peace.
Gift: A game for one or more, Square Up!
Get it: Marbles: The Brain Store, $24.99, marblesthebrainstore.com.
Bonus: Pieces contained or attached so they don't disappear under the couch; free gift tag and a shopping bag. Get some tissue paper to top it off and you're good to go.
Buying for teachers
Goal: Not another coffee cup; no apple/reindeer/snowman/ABCs theme.
Gift: Nice-smelling hand lotion and hand wash.
Get it: L'Occitane, $36, usa.loccitane.com.
Bonus: They put it in a pretty, tagged box when I asked.
Buying for Secret Santa
Goal: To actually give something useful.
Gift: Baggu brand nylon waterproof tote holds 50 pounds of groceries, etc.
Get it: Madewell, $9, madewell.com.
Bonus: Inexpensive, eco-friendly, folds into a 5-inch pouch, cute free box and wrapped in nifty Sudoku tissue paper.
Buying for label-loving girl
Goal: She won't think it's lame.
Gift: Kate Spade mini nail polish set (two sparkly, one navy, one red)
Get it: Nordstrom, $28, nordstrom.com.
Bonus: Didn't come in a Kate Spade box, but when I asked, the Nordstrom sales associate found one for me. Just need some tissue paper inside and a ribbon on the box for a quick-wrap solution.
Goal: Something he won't just toss in a drawer and never wear or use.
Gift(s): Whimsical socks or practical pocket-sized tool kit.
Bonus: Socks fit most, could perk up a blah blue shirt and khakis, boxed with ribbon for free; what man (or woman) can't use 10 tools (weighing less than 2 ounces) on their key ring?
Buying a reply to the surprise gift
Goal: A generic gift just in case.
Gift: Votive candle holder with battery-operated candles.
Get it: Crate & Barrel, votive, $3.95; candles, four for $13.95, crateandbarrel.com.
Bonus: Crate & Barrel logo box with gift tag means no wrapping. A high-quality, satiny ribbon from a fabric or craft store adds an instant touch of class.