The Twelve Days of Fitness

This time of year, we may reflect on how we can help others, as well as on how—or what—we might give. Chances are we know someone close to us that could use a little kick start down the road to fitness in the new year. Knowing what's possible to discover about oneself, and being well acquainted with the sheer joy that can be had through regular exercise, why not give what we know best? And so here are a few ideas on how to share one of the things we cherish most in our daily lives: here's how to give the gift of fitness.

Imagine their face when they open your greeting card and read: “I'm giving you the Twelve Days of Fitness.” That face might reflect surprise, laughter, disappointment, or even worry. But whether you're gifting a friend, co-worker, spouse, parent, or even a child, remember—and remind—that this gift is infinitely adaptable. Assessing where someone is starting from and discussing what interests them can be a way of making sure this unique adventure stays safe, fun, and functional. The idea is to combine equal parts personal commitment with a generous sampling of singular experiences that will help someone discover an activity that suits them for a long time to come. Under the right set of circumstances, this could truly be the gift that keeps on giving. 

One thing is certain: the Twelve Days of Fitness are not 12 consecutive days. You might offer to meet once a week for twelve weeks, perhaps starting in January when our busy lives over the holidays have settled down a bit. Your sedentary elderly mother will likely require a different workout schedule than former weekend warrior hubby who has simply been spending a little too much time on the couch watching the playoffs of late.

Three options to arrange fitness days are: 1.) once a week for 12 weeks; 2.) twice a week for six weeks; or 3.) three times a week over one month. Depending on personal taste, climate, local facilities, and other factors, your gifts of fitness can be outdoor- or indoor-focused, or any combination in between. You could even make the First Day of Fitness the day you gave a brand new set of workout clothing—the choice is yours, the possibilities endless. The better custom-fit your gifts of fitness are to the person you're gifting, the more rewarding it will undoubtedly be for them and for you. If it's the thought that counts, you'll be a hero no matter what, because any way you choose, a lot of planning (and a fair amount of time and capital) will likely go into your Twelve Days. Here's a sample program:

1st Day. Take a walk with me.
2nd Day. Let's go on an easy hike.
3rd Day. Let's rent a tandem bike.
4th Day. Swim with me at a local pool.
5th Day. Let's walk and jog—slowly!
6th Day. I signed us up for a stretching and strengthening class.
7th Day. Your choice: Pilates or beginner's yoga class.
8th Day. Let's take a ballroom dancing class!
9th Day. Ready to go for a jog?
10th Day. I heard Zumba Fitness is a blast...
11th Day. Spinning class, anyone?
12th Day. Guest pass at my gym. Your choice: weight room, treadmills, step aerobics...it's up to you!

Remember this gift works best as equal parts support and introducing loved ones to experiences they might not elect to try on their own. Do vary intensity, duration, location, and type of activity as needed. With any luck, come Day 13, you'll have a running buddy on your hands who can't wait to keep up the good work.

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