Fitness-inspired gift ideas for Father's Day

Don't just get him another tie — check out our ideas for gifts that will help Dad stay fit and healthy.
By James S. Fell, CSCS
Father's Day gift ideas, fitness, health Getty Images

I am a dad, and I don’t want a tie. Seriously. No ties. Okay? Instead, I want something that lets me play at my chosen sports.

If you’ve got an active dad in your life (or if you’d like him to be active), here are some ideas for Father’s Day gifts he will like and actually use.

Clothes Again: No ties.

If the dad in question has a sport or exercise he likes, then I’m pretty sure there are clothes for that. I know what I want: A nice, new running jacket for spring and fall. My old one is getting, well, old, and I’ve been eyeing a sporty new red and black one. I want that.

Does he cycle and need fancy bike shorts? How about one of those high-tech t-shirts that are silver “impregnated” to prevent them from getting stinky? If he’s a skier then he might be in need of some new snow pants for next season, or if he likes to hike is he in need of new boots? What about some new hockey gloves?

Training Perhaps your dad has an activity that he wants to get better at, or a new one you think he might like. You could get him a couple of sessions with a certified kettlebell trainer, or sign him up for a running clinic, which has everything from beginner to marathon training sessions. If he’s big into running and cycling, you could get him swimming lessons to make him a triathlete. Or perhaps his weightlifting sessions just need a tune-up and you can give the gift of personal training. He might even be interested to try out Krav Maga.


Gear There are lots of fitness toys out there, and some are more useful than others. Skip the Shake Weight and get him something that is actually helpful. You can go low-tech or high-tech.

Here are some ideas:

  • The TRX: These are awesome. I know because I have one hanging in my basement and use it all the time. They aren’t that expensive, and it’s like having a home gym hanging from your ceiling (or you can put it on a door frame). There are lots of good bodyweight exercises that can be done with this, and unlike so many lousy miracle machines advertised in informercials, this is actually a really good product.
  • Kettlebells: Again, make sure he’s got some training if he doesn’t know how to use them properly, but just a few kettlebells can make for a pretty complete home gym.
  • A Power Gym: Okay, I’ll admit that the ads for this are way over the top, and that all the promises of what you can accomplish with it are pretty out there (and those fitness models in the commercial didn’t get those bodies using this product). However, it’s still a good product for an easy way to put a chin-up bar in your house. They don’t cost that much and it allows the dad to do chin ups pretty much anywhere, and chin ups are awesome. Don't buy him a Bowflex though.
  • Tracking technology: By tracking, I mean things like tools to monitor heart rate, pace, and distance. GPS technology is really good stuff for runners and cyclists, and can be very motivating for judging how far they travel and how fast.
  • Adjustable dumbbells: These aren’t cheap, but will allow him to get a full set of dumbbells in just one set. They take up a lot less space than traditional dumbbells, and give him all the different weights he needs. You may want to get him a bench too.
  • A jump rope: Seriously, these are good.
  • Balls: Really, balls. Does he have a good football or a soccer ball? How about a nice hacky sack? A volleyball? All of these are things that can be used with the family and friends to get him more active.

Time My wife sometimes complains of being a workout widow, but this is usually good-natured. I certainly spend my share of time single-parenting while she’s at karate; we’ve got a good quid pro quo going on when it comes to exercise.

If you’re married to a dad, then one of the nicest things you can do for him is give him a 100-percent guilt-free day to play. Kick him out the door and tell him to come home smelly and sweaty (from exercise) while you do something with the kids. I know what I’d do with a day like that: Ride my bike far and fast.

If he takes advantage of the time you give him, he may need a little extra nap time when he gets home too. James S. Fell, MBA, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Calgary, AB. He writes the column “In-Your-Face Fitness” for the Los Angeles Times and consults with clients on strategic planning for fitness and health. Get a free metabolism report at Body For Wife. Email James at


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