Gifts of good health Recreation, relaxation lift spirits all year long

December 15, 1992|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Staff Writer

Forget the fruitcake. Cancel those cookies and take a pass on the pies. This year, why not think health when choosing holiday gifts?

In this nutritionally correct, physically fit era, a gift certificate to a health club could be just what the doctor ordered. And baby boomers aren't the only ones interested in good health these days. So, healthy shoppers, grab your gift list, your checkbook and go for it!

Step up to fitness

Is there a couch potato at your house who's been promising to work out but can't stand going to gyms?

Check out one of the many exercise equipment stores around town and choose something to use at home.

For starters, there are stair climbers, treadmills and free weights, says Mark Czapski, a salesman at Home Gym Systems, an exercise equipment store in Timonium.

Manual stair climbers range from $200 to $500. For those with fancier tastes and bigger wallets, computerized stair climbers offer options such as heart-

rate monitors. But be prepared to spend upward of $1,000, Mr. Czapski says.

Treadmills are another popular item. "You get an aerobic workout, and it is smooth and quiet to work on," Mr. Czapski says. They range in price from about $800 to $2,800, he adds.

Want something smaller? Try free weights, which are sold by the pound at the Carolina Fitness Equipment store in Catonsville, says Michael Smith, a commercial sales representative. Weights cost 50 or 55 cents per pound.

For those who want to really go for the burn with one piece of equipment, there's always the "home gym."

"A popular one that you can do all of the exercises on and has a good price is called the 'Eagle Home Gym,' " says Patty Liston, manager at Fitness Concepts in Severna Park.

"You can work just about all of the muscle groups," Ms. Liston says. The "Eagle Home Gym" sells for $795 and others go up to $6,000, she says.

The Nordic Advantage store in Towson Town Center sells Nordic Track cross-country ski machines and other equipment. "There are seven different models," says Greg L'Amoreaux of the popular cross-country ski machines. They range in price from $300 to $1,300.

Bath time

After a good sweaty workout, what could be better than a relaxing bath to soothe those aching muscles and give skin a healthy glow?

People are buying bath gels, milk baths, and the "very moisturizing" bath pearls at Crabtree & Evelyn, says Audrey Cullip, manager of the chain's White Marsh store. Small bath cubes can be yours for 95 cents. Other bath products range in price from $5.25 to $13.50.

At the Body Shop stores in White Marsh Mall and Harborplace, bath and shower gels are popular stocking stuffers, says Debbie Jarrett, assistant manager at the White Marsh store.

And this year your skin can be glowing with good health and be politically correct at the same time: There's a new line of skin-care products called "Blue Corn," made by Santa Pueblo Indians of New Mexico.

Profits go to the Indians, Ms. Jarrett says. "You can do good and smell good at the same time," she says. The products cost $1.40 to $21.50, she says.

How about putting that special someone in someone else's hands -- literally?

For a really relaxing treat, give her or him a gift certificate for a massage. Merle Norman Cosmetics in Annapolis and Laurel can help, says Christy Shomock, manager at the Annapolis store. "There's Swedish,

therapeutic, stress release and deep tissue." They run $50 an hour or $30 a half hour for a head and neck massage.

The Tokyo Spa in Columbia offers an "Oriental Shiatsu Massage" described as a "finger pressure/acupressure" massage. The cost is $60 an hour.

For the young at heart

Gary Tavin, spokesman for the Maryland Office on Aging, says senior citizens might enjoy foot care products and a foot massager.

"A lot of older people have foot problems. As you age, the skin on the feet literally wears away," Mr. Tavin says. Foot massage machines, such as Dr. Scholl's, run about $30 at department or drug stores.

Also, Mr. Tavin suggests memberships at a "Y" or fitness club. "It will help keep people active," Mr. Tavin says.

Kits that measure blood pressure and pulse can be purchased at pharmacies.

They come in manual and digital models, explains Simone Brooks, a certified fitter at Albert's Pharmacy & Medical Equipment in Baltimore. The cost is $21.95 and up, she says.

Bath rails or shower seats could be thoughtful gifts, she suggests. Or perhaps a simple $4 pill box might be appreciated.

Books for a healthy mind

Now, instead of turning on the tube, how about a good mental workout?

"Life's Little Instruction Book," by H. Jackson Brown Jr. (Rutledge Hill Press, 1991, $5.95 paperback or $12.95 hardcover) has been a consistently popular self-help book for a year, says Maryanna Skowronski, manager of Waldenbooks in the Hunt Valley mall.

John-Roger and Peter McWilliams' "Life 101" (Prelude Press, 1992, $9.95) is also selling "very well" right now, Ms. Skowronski says.

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