How To Give Fitness As A Gift (A Personal Trainer’s Guide)


Estimated Reading Time: 11 Minutes 

Let’s face it, gift giving can be difficult, even more so when your intended recipient already has all of the material things they need. You may find yourself  thinking outside the box with your gift giving leading you to considering a service or experiential type of gift, which brings you here and yes, fitness based gifts can be excellent choices. In fact, at any given time, my online personal training clientele will include a number of people who arrived at my service by way of a gift. .


There's a right way and a wrong way…


Of course giving a gift typically associated with weight loss, muscle gain etc needs to be given tactfully, I’ve seen it done well and seen it done not so well, for instance I remember in the early years of my personal training career, I found myself working with a young man who’s girlfriend bought him 10 muscle building training sessions with me because “he wasn’t muscly enough”, to his credit, he showed up, but needless to say he resented being there, and his heart wasn’t in it, on the other hand one of my most rewarding experiences as a trainer came from working with a woman who was a seriously high flyer in London retail, who had been trying to fall pregnant for some time without success. Her partner though that she was overworking, stressed and a little down and wanted to enlist some help to get her feeling good again. 


We sat down and strategised that our goal was not to  lose weight nor get super fit, in fact all of the traditional gym goals were out of the window, our goal was very clear, we would work to put her body in a position where the signals we were sending it were those of abundance, i.e no calorie restriction, practises to reduce stress, bringing non-inflammatory food to her diet and workouts that were easy to recover from, rather than exhausting. She was successful in her goal within 6 months, of course we cannot draw a direct correlation as there are myriad medical considerations I don’t feel qualified to comment on, but I’m opinion is that putting her body in a position of rest and optimal recovery can only have helped.


But the point is, it was the exact same gift, but delivered with a completely different approach and outcome. 


4 Great Candidate For A Fitness Gift


Over the course of the 12 years I’ve been working as a personal trainer I have started to see some trends as to the best candidates for giving personal training as a gift, let’s take a look at them:


The Workaholic


One of the most thoughtful ways to give a gift is to give someone something you know they need, but for one reason or another just won’t get for themselves. 


We probably all know someone that works long hours, takes on stress, doesn’t complain about it and has noticeably seen a decline in health and energy levels due to their workload. You may know someone at the early stage of this cycle, with just a few pounds gained and a little muscle tension from sitting most of the day that you would like to help turn things around. Perhaps you have someone in your life who is further down the line, having allowed things to get to the stage of increased health risks, and may even be on the other end of their first real health scare and you’re keep to help them turn things around.


I have seen the gift of a course of personal training develop into a life changing gift for those in this type of situation, and as someone who has worked with many busy people and speaking as someone who has pushed my own red line a little too far more than once too, I can tell you that there are few gestures more heart warming to someone with a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, than when someone notices how hard they work, and wants to help lighten the load for you, it may even contribute to making them even more successful i their careers. 


Someone Who Needs A Boost In Confidence


In my experience, another great candidate for the gift of an in person or online personal training program is someone that you’ve noticed has been a little down on themselves recently and may be lacking confidence. Often a well meaning gift of a health &  fitness program is exactly what they need. 


Not because they need to change what they see in the mirror but because it encourages self-prioritisation will provide the kind of structure where they can set appointments with themselves and keep them, which shows self-respect and that is how you raise self-esteem. Of course, the combined efforts will lead to physical changes, but the truth is that confidence comes from within, not without. Be sure to propose an encouraging environment for their health & fitness efforts, an abrasive or overly rigid coach may have the opposite than intended effect. 


Someone Young & Enthusiastic  (that you want to help start the right way) 


Another great candidate for a gift of a health & fitness program  is someone who is young, probably under 23 years old that you are close to and feel included to help nurture their growing interest in health & fitness, this is a difficult age for many reasons but particularly when it comes to health & fitness.


In the modern world our twenties are an age of Social pressures and a stage of personal development where the ability to discern between someone’s else’s highly curated lifestyle on social media vs how things really look day to day can leave someone vulnerable to comparison, and unreasonable beauty/body standards, all too common downstream effects of this are taking health risks that have long-term consequences. 


Don’t get me wrong, this is the age at which to lean the virtues of discipline, delayed gratification and and planning and in my opinion there is no better vehicle for that than exercise, and these things implemented well can lead to exemplary results, especially when training is done well from such an early age.


however social media just isn’t an even playing field because of the slights of hand filters, image editing and curated moments provide. Ultimately the right exercise environment can help a young person internalise that the race is steady, and only with yourself. 


By connecting your fledgling  fitness enthusiast with a credible coach or company early on in you stand a great chance of helping them form positive associations with exercise and nutrition and may help avoid short-term thinking that could effect long-term health. 


Corporate Wellness Gifting 


One of the interesting ways in which fitness is often gifted, particularly within my online fitness coaching service is via business owners and team leaders or HR purchasing courses of personal training or investing in corporate wellness programs for their colleagues. 


Now, naturally there are some potential advantages to the business, all the usual intangibles like increased focus, efficiency, creativity etc. The potential benefits do run deeper though, a comprehensive personal training program is about more than weight change, sculpting a silhouette or attaining six pack abs, it’s about cultivating a healthy lifestyle that will help reduce stress, boost immunity and generally improve health which will in theory lead to less absenteeism. 


The real point of the gift though is to show your team how much you value not just their contribution to the business, but also their long-term health. Being in control of your health & fitness gives you a lot more energy, meaning you’re less tired at weekends and evenings and feel ready to attack the day each morning which for most people is going to be family or relationship time, so the way to look at a gifted personal training course is to see it as an investment in a person’s quality of life outside of the workplace. 



General Tips For Giving The Gift Of Fitness

  • Get A Feel For Intent 


As I alluded to at the beginning of the article, it’s important to get an intuitive feel for whether the gift you are planning to give is going to be well received. Obviously, you’ll always be in the best position to gauge this, but in my experience, the gift of fitness is always best received when it is given in a spirit of empathy, appreciation or nurture. The exact same gift could be given with the subtle implication that the individual is 'not enough' as they are, or as a correction, implying that the way they are pursuing their fitness progress at the moment is incorrect, which could add a bad taste to the otherwise very thoughtful gift.


We have to be honest here, I’ve worked with hundreds of people in person as a personal trainer and when you spend a good deal of time with someone you can start to nurture a unique dynamic because often clients feel that they can be very candid with a trainer as there is a clear bond of trust, but also usually aren't connected to anyone else in their lives so a lot of hard truth can be spoken with very little potential negative consequence. 


It’s been relayed to me on multiple occasions that in an interpersonal dynamic where health and staying in shape has been allowed to fall by the wayside for a while, it has had a knock-on effect of a notable gap in intimacy. We would be remiss to ignore that there are times where a non-trivial amount of the motivation for giving a fitness gift relates to a need to rectify this kind of intimacy gap, to be clear in my understanding, it is not that a partner need be in fitness model shape to be attractive, but rather that the very acts of working out consistently, eating well and striving for better is an act of self-respect, which is inherently attractive, not to mention taking care of yourself for your partner may be one of the biggest keys to a successful relationship. 


What I’m saying is, giving the gift of a fitness program can certainly be a catalyst for change and success in many areas of life. It just has to be done with empathy and tact.

  • Make Sure It's Customisable


A common temptation if you are a fitness enthusiast yourself is to give the gift of fitness in your own image, and look for fitness options that you would enjoy, thats pretty natural and well intentioned, after-all it stands to reason that if it’s good enough for you, that’s about as good of a co-sign there could be. 


However, there is a huge spectrum with regards the kind of exercises that different people enjoy. Without getting into the weeds, there are various variables such as exercise history, current goals, psychological preferences, even variation of pre-dominant neurotransmitters that to a good coach will all inform an optimal exercise program, which means that someone that is totally at home in a Crossfit box may feel under-stimulated at a yoga class and the yogi may feel completely overwhelmed in a Crossfit class, obviously it’s not as clear cut as that, in fact many people would be perfectly happy at both, it’s just my long-winded way of suggesting that it’s best to give a a customisable gift. Great ideas would be online fitness coaching, whereby a program can be completely built from scratch for your recipient. Another great idea might be a concept like class pass as it would allow your recipient to ‘choose their own journey’ so to speak. 

  • Make It Easy To Opt-Out Or Defer 


Flexibility is great when it comes to giving a fitness related gift, it won’t necessarily be the case that the right time to start a training program will also be closely correlated to a birthday or festive period. For a lot of people it takes a lot to muster up the momentum to get started on a fitness journey, so making sure there is room for someone to do this at their own pace is important. 


It’s difficult to say exactly how this kind of gift is going to play out, it’s receipt may be an immediate catalyst for change, or it might be something that will ultimately lead to very positive action, but will take some time to set in. This is why flexibility and the ability to defer is key.

Do Your Research 


Where you purchase from also needs to be carefully considered, as not all health & fitness providers offer the same level of professionalism, philosophy or service, the importance of this is heightened if your are gifting the gift to someone you consider in somewhat of a vulnerable state or just a younger individual. 


The risk may be reduced here if you are purchasing from a known brand or concept such as Crossfit or yoga, the reduction in risk is that there should be somewhat of an inherited narrative and ethos that runs through every outlet. 


However if you are enlisting the help of an individual coach a little time getting the feel of their ethos, social media and personality is well spent, because in a coaching relationship, your recipient may be speaking with them near daily, for several months in pursuit of their goals, so ensuring great fit is essential.

  • If It’s Physical, Think Of Space


If you decide to opt for a piece of physical fitness equipment rather than coaching itself, consider the gift’s physical footprint in a room, and the amount of space the person has.


Also consider that whilst they might technically have room for something, they may not want a large piece of fitness equipment in their living space, especially if regular exercise is little more than an emerging habit for them at the time. 


Elegant options for giving fitness as a gift include novel kettlebell moulds, adjustable dumbbells or a suspension trainer like a TRX. 


I have seen many people give life changing gifts via fitness programs over the course of my career, not just within my own online personal training service but also through observing it occur with colleagues and the personal trainers I have mentored aswell. 


As a sign off here, I think it is worth repeating that, perhaps the greatest gift that can be given is to be found in something you know a person needs, though for one reason or another, wouldn’t get for themselves. 


If you would like to give my personal training service as a gift to someone in your life, please schedule a consultation here or email me on scott@scottlaidler.com to discuss the individual circumstances, a gift certificate will be provided so that something tangible can be handed over on the special day.