We would never think to disparage Santa Claus, but let’s be honest: Considering all those cookies he consumes on an average Christmas eve, good St. Nick is hardly a model of dietary perfection.
So we’ll look elsewhere for advice on healthful holiday gifts. Here’s what we’ve found:
Stretch it out. Stress is a year-round affliction in need of remedying — and so too are tight muscles and aching joints. Yoga lessons are a gift that’s sure to put the recipient on the road to relaxation, and may even create a lifelong passion in the process. Through the holidays, Bija Yoga is offering a special of three classes for $40; you can also purchase a gift certificate for five, 10 and 20 class packages for $75, $140 and $260, respectively. A variety of levels and yoga styles are offered, including Hatha, Vinyasa and Kundalini. There’s even a laughter yoga class and Thai Yoga therapy. Bija Yoga, www.bijayoga971.com
Sweat in style. Lululemon Athletica’s newly-expanded Waterside Shops store will forever banish the belief that gym clothes must be basic. It will also help you find fitness-friendly presents for men and women. Our pick is The Mat, the company’s moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial workout mat, which is made of the same soft, shock absorbent material as a tennis racket handle. It’s available in the original, 70-inch size for $68 or a smaller, travel version for $38.
And speaking of travel: Lululemon’s $98 Fast in Flight bag is the ideal gift for stylish athletes on the go. Lululemon Athletica, (239) 254-1517
Gym dandy. A gym membership is one gift that keeps on giving. We like NCH Healthcare System’s Wellness Center and its two Collier County campuses, located in downtown Naples and North Naples. The former has a lap pool, but both offer an array of group classes — there’s everything from prenatal fitness to Pilates to Zumba dance — and a wide assortment of state-of-the-art exercise machines and weightlifting equipment, too. One-month memberships start at $50 for a single person; annual memberships start at $540. NCH Wellness Center, www.NCHmd.org/Wellness
Home hardbodies. Of course, a traditional gym isn’t for everyone. Help create the ultimate home gym by gifting the Cybex 750 AT Arc Trainer, a cross-training machine that provides a smooth, quiet total body workout. The Arc Trainer can be programmed to different intensities, scales to user weight and offers 100 levels of resistance. In all, exercisers enjoy proper alignment, lower impact, lower perceived exertion and burn more calories. No wonder it’s featured on NBC’s weight loss hit “The Biggest Loser.” $7,995, Gym Source, (239) 438-4911
Face time. Seeking a healthy gift that pampers? Look no further than the Silver Ionic Facial at the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples. As part of this 50-minute treatment, a velour-like piece of material is coated with conductive colloidal silver, which has natural repairing and rejuvenating properties for damaged and inflamed skin. Designed to increase firmness, stimulate cellular turnover, ease fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin’s overall appearance, the Epicuren Silver Ion Mask has even been approved by the FDA as a method to accelerate the growth of healthy new skin. $150. Ritz-Carlton, Naples, (239) 598-3300
Berry good. A holiday gift is a good opportunity to help someone turn over a healthy new leaf. Or several. The garden shop at Food & Thought’s Organic Farm Market sells a variety of organic seeds, all for $2.99, and there’s also an assortment of organic fertilizer and gardening books to assure success for farmers-to-be. Keep your gift giving it simple by buying an organic strawberry plant for $12.95; through the growing season, it could produce as much as 10 pints of berries. Or, keep it simpler still by buying a gift card and letting the recipient explore its organic wonderland firsthand. Food & Thought, www.foodandthought.com
Life lessons. Some healthy gifts begin within. Enter Neapolitan Laurie Martin, personal life coach and motivational speaker, who helps her clients find inspiration, clarity and empowerment. Martin is available for one-on-one consultations, but also has written “Smile Across Your Heart,” a self-help book. Life coaching sessions are 55 minutes and $125 per hour, or five sessions for $600; the first consultation is free. “Smile Across Your Heart” is $18.95 and available through Martin’s website: www.smileacrossyourheart.com