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Holiday Gift Guide: Health and Fitness

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Health and fitness: it's a gift category upon which one must tread delicately. Give the wrong person a piece of fitness equipment and you risk wreaking havoc upon a fragile self-esteem, or simply having your gift received with the silent treatment and a single, lonesome tear rolling down their cheek.

But for the appropriate giftee, a certificate to a hard-to-find local class or an addition to the home gym is the highly coveted gift that says, I know you. Here are the best classes and items for the athletically-inclined and the thrill-seekers on your list.

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For the Adrenaline Junkie: Absolution
Absolution, a beautiful gym in West Hollywood, is the ultimate destination for alt-fitness. Whether your giftee is alt-curious or already out as an alt-fanatic, Absolution offers every class they could possibly want but can't find anywhere else, from aerial arts to erotic striptease to Capoeira. "Absolution is geared towards people who have never done these things before and want to try," says Sascha Ferguson, owner and CEO of Absolution. She recommends the Spy School gift certificate for $225, which includes your choice of three different classes. Other gift certificates are available in a range of prices.

For the Marathoner: Running Sneakers
Practical but necessary. Sneakers should be replaced every six months, so there's a pretty good chance that you know someone who needs a new pair. The ASICS GT 21-series ($90 - $100) is topping the charts this year, as are the ASICS GEL-Evolution ($110), both for fit and comfort. The Adidas AdiStar Ride ($125) is also a good choice, for the runner who favors a cushiony sole. All of these styles can be purchased at Foot Locker and Lady Foot Locker, and Adidas has stores on the 3rd Street Promenade and on Melrose.

For the Yogilates Enthusiast: The Pilates Magic Circle
This piece of equipment will change the way your limber friend or relative practices pilates at home. "The Pilates Magic Circle is a classic piece of equipment," says Shana Stark, a classically trained pilates instructor and trainer at Pilates by the Park and Easton Gym. "You can work your entire body, and isolate certain areas." The Magic Circle is generally sold with an instructional video ($34 on Amazon), so anyone can take it home and learn how to properly use it.

For the Outdoorsies: Balls
Yup, you read that right. Remember how fun it was to kick a soccer ball around, or throw a baseball in the street? ("Car!" "Game on.") The fact that there are so many classes and new pieces of equipment doesn't mean that an old-school game of catch has been drained of it's wholesome joy. If you don't already have some balls lying around the house, soccer balls, baseballs, basketballs and footballs make simple, fun gifts. They can be found at local sporting goods stores like Big 5 Sporting Goods and Sports Chalet.

For the Hippie and/or Dancer: A Professional Hula Hoop
Hula-hooping, or just "hooping," as it's known in the hippie community, is not just a throw-back to the 1950's or to concerts from your drug-saturated college years; it's an incredible workout. Go to Hoopnotica in Venice to buy a hoop or pick up gift certificates for classes with uber-hooper Rayna McInturf. Hoopnotica also sells instructional DVD's for the hooper who's just learning. Hoops range in price from $25 - $55, and gift certificates start at $25. Hoops can also be purchased online at Hoop Girl.

For the Thrill-Seeker: Flying Trapeze
You really haven't lived until you've viewed the beauty of the Woodland Hills horizon from 25 feet in the air, clinging for dear life to a narrow wooden bar as you whip through the chilly air. Richie Gaona, of the famous Flying Gaonas, has been running his Flying Trapeze School out of his backyard for years, and his classes welcome everyone from beginners to full-fledged "flyers." Gift certificates start at $45 for a single class, and this is as unforgettable a gift as you're likely to come by.

Need more gift ideas? Scroll through our Workout Wednesday series. Most classes we covered offer gift certificates and equipment.