Last year, Spago; this year, backyard barbecue. Last year, diving on the Great Barrier Reef; this year, a day at SeaWorld. Last year, a $7,000 titanium mountain bike; this year, a $10 deck of playing cards with workout instructions typed on them. Reflecting the times, here are some practical exercise products with fiscal fitness in mind.
-- Roy M. Wallack
FitDeck exercise playing cards: A deck of coated, illustrated playing cards imprinted with instructions for various exercises, such as squat thrusts, push-ups and bicycle crunches.
Likes: It's an instant personal trainer. Shuffle the deck and get a new workout every day. Each card includes simple, easy-to-understand drawings, explanations of exercises, and various reps for beginning, intermediate and advanced users. Take it anywhere. Wide variety of workout decks, including Bodyweight, Senior, Yoga, Navy Seal, Travel, Kettlebells and a dozen other types of exercise; most require some gear. The deck is contained in a clear plastic snap case.
Price: $9.95 to $16.95. (800) 226-6022; www.fitdeck.com.
Armpocket Aero 10: Small zippered cargo bag with 10 cubic inches of storage space that can be worn on your upper arm during athletic activities.
Likes: A comfortable, convenient, light (3 ounces) and unobtrusive way to secure small essentials such as phone, wallet and keys. No irritating bounce, as with a fanny pack. I particularly liked it for quick access to a small digital camera while mountain biking. Includes a soft neoprene arm strap with Velcro closure, three interior sleeves and an exterior pocket that holds an energy bar. Handy in the gym; switch it to your ankle while lifting upper-body weights. Great for tourists.
Dislikes: Some rubbing of the armband in the armpit area while running.
Price: $22.99. Larger models up to $31.99. (877) 276-7628; www.armpocket.com.
Gymboss Interval Timer and Stopwatch: Tiny (2- by 1.5-inch) clip-on countdown timer that beeps at desired workout intervals.
Likes: Quite useful for runners, cyclists, kettlebellers, crossfitters, martial artists and other athletes who make use of interval training and timed rounds. More accurate and convenient than having to look at a watch. Easy three-button setup. Set interval duration from 2 seconds to 60 minutes and alarm duration from 1 to 10 seconds in beep or vibration modes -- or both. Loud beep is audible 10 to 20 feet away. Intervals repeat without re-pressing when in auto mode.
Price: $19.99, shipping $2.95. (877) 496-2677; gymboss.com.
Sticking with it
KT Tape: Elastic "kinesiology" athletic tape with one-way stretch.
Likes: Being elastic in one direction, it supports sore muscles and joints without restricting motion, in theory aiding recovery and performance. Comes in convenient pre-cut 10- by 2-inch strips, 20 per roll, so no cutting or tearing required. Waterproof, so you can wear it while swimming.
Dislikes: Expensive compared to traditional non-elastic athletic tape.
Price: $12.99. www.kttape.com.
Wallack is the co-author of "Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100" and author of "Run for Life." Roywallack@aol.com