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Give Endorphins Instead of Cashmere: Well-Balanced

You wouldn’t know it from how much we talk about cookies, but Birchbox staffers are a pretty healthy bunch. We love our veggies and mind-clearing workouts, and are always up to try the latest fitness class or nutrition bar. Which is why we have new regular column: Well-Balanced. Check back weekly for our latest wellness obsession.

New York’s Figure 4. Photo: Verging on Serious.

Many moons ago, my college boyfriend gave me a gym membership for Christmas. My friends were appalled — ‘Is he trying to tell you something?’ — but I was thrilled. I had been dying to join a tricked out gym, but couldn’t justify spending the money when there was a perfectly good (read: free) exercise room in my dorm.

While they’re not as sexy as, say, a slick gadget or a sparkly piece of jewelry, fitness classes are one of my favorite things to give and get. Especially with the prices of yoga, spin, and other boutique classes rising, it can be hard to justify buying them for yourself — which makes them an ideal present. Click through for my picks for different types of workout geeks.

For the gym rat: Personal training sessions. If he or she is already a gym regular, hook them up with a few sessions with a pro. They’ll get tips on proper technique and pick up new moves to inspire their 2012 workouts. 

For the girl who thinks she doesn’t like exercise:  Spin classes at a specialty studio. People line up for SoulCycle (and pay $30 a class) because they making sweating fun. Teachers are (generally) motivating instead of bullying, and the music is always awesome. 

For the plateau-ed athlete: Team in Training membership. Maybe he is a former college athlete looking for a challenge or she’s a weekend cyclist in need of a goal. Either way, if you spring for the Team in Training join fee, you’ll be helping them achieve a personal milestone, whether it’s a PR or a marathon, and raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society at the same time.

For those in need of cross-training: Barre classes. If your favorite runner or cyclist is looking for a way to balance out their cardio, they should try ballet-inspired classes. These thigh-burning workouts focus on lengthening and toning muscles, and work wonders on the core area. Read our roundup of our favorites.

For the stress case: Yoga. Every Christmas, my mom gets me a 20-pack to my favorite Brooklyn yoga studio, and every year it’s my favorite gift. It feels indulgent to spend 90 minutes focusing on yourself and your body, but it’s also my favorite way to unwind. Find out your giftee’s favorite studio and surprise them with a pass, and maybe some new Lululemon duds.

—Mollie

All-natural wipes are a gym bag must. Try Herban Essentials’ citrusy orange ones.

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