progress — By ben checketts
What makes the perfect gift? Is it something that the party would never buy themselves? Or is it a gift that they will use every day? To me, the perfect gift lies somewhere in between. It’s got to check all three of these boxes off.
Ok, the last one is a stretch but let me explain. The best gifts I have ever received are the ones that I do not have to worry about. I expect a lot out of the products that I buy for myself and so naturally, that same demanding attitude applies to the gifts I receive. If it’s fragile, at all, it’s either ending up in the trash because I already broke it or going back to the store with a gift receipt.
It then goes without saying that when I test something, I test it to the max, putting it through the rigors of putting up with me day in and day out. A test that most fail, but a select few make it to the other side and become my trusted favorites. And that is why I am proud to present three gifts fit for the wise men (or women) in your life.
Available at Jaybirdsport.com, Best Buy, and Amazon
So the new Apple AirPod pros came out recently and people were blown away by the specs: sweatproof, customizable silicone ear tips for a lock-tight fit, a magnetic charging case, and custom audio options. Well, guess what? Jaybird has been doing that for years and in my humble opinion, they have perfected the rugged sport, pocket-sized, life-proof wireless headphones in their newest model, the Vista.
The Vista headphones take the foundation built by former Jaybird wireless headphones and are able to push the envelope quite a bit further. Starting with a 16-hour battery life, which I can attest that I have put to the test, the Vistas deliver lightning-fast Bluetooth connectivity and amazing sound. In addition, the Vistas boast a capsule construction that is completely waterproof, sweatproof and element proof. Go ahead and bury them in the sand. You may be picking granules out of year ear canal later, but I promise they will work like a charm! Listen to music, take calls with an excellent microphone and do it all without destroying the Earth.
Oh, what’s up? You didn’t know that AirPods can’t be repaired or recycled? It’s a dirty little secret, but yes, ultimately the battery in the AirPods will start to die out (around the 18-month mark) and you cannot repair them or recycle them. That is not a concern with the Vistas which can be both repaired easily and recycled once they have served their purpose. It’s not often that Apple gets dunked on like this, but it pushes innovation forward and hopefully they can solve this problem.
The Skinny: If the person on your list loves to listen to music or podcasts while they workout, demands a lot from a headphone and doesn’t hate the Earth, this is for them!
Available at Airofit.com
We all know the benefits of breathing, right? If you have an Apple Watch, you get reminded of this during the worst time in your day! But for me, time is precious and sometimes it doesn’t feel like I can’t actually separate myself from my family or work to breathe. Sure, I have tried apps and set timers, etc. But mentally, I am never all in on just sitting in a room and taking deep breaths. The crew at Airofit, an innovative science-based Danish company, has developed a handy little trainer that has catapulted my performance through consistent respiratory training.
The Airofit trainer was developed by a Danish scientist who watched swimmers carefully as they pushed their bodies to the brink during training. Often when we exert ourselves and feel that “out of breath” sensation, we think, or better yet say, “Man, I am in bad shape. Next time, I will go harder.” That flawed symptom-based logic will only get you so far. The team behind Airofit has developed a system that, similar to any other training system, strengthens a specific group of muscles. But instead of doing push-ups to work your chest, arms, and back, you will be pushing through strenuous breathing training that will strengthen your entire respiratory system.
To my earlier point, this training is not just sitting in a room breathing, it’s way more dynamic and in a sense, more fun than any of that. The app, which easily syncs to your device, gamifies the breathing exercises so you can track your progress and push your limits. There are different training regimes, all of which will take you through guided sessions and monitor your progress throughout the program. There are also built-in programs that allow you to take an instant test, do a relaxation course, or try an additional challenge. Before you think that this tool is only useful for endurance athletes, I have seen numerous benefits in my weight training as well when I take bracing breaths before a complex movement. If you are holistic about your health, then start building a strong foundation in your breath. It will have numerous benefits.
The Skinny: If you know someone that takes their training (running, cycling, weight lifting, etc.) seriously, and is full of hot air, this fun little device is the perfect gift.
Available on VKTRY.com
Maybe it’s the superhero effect, but don’t we all want to be able to run faster, jump higher and be better? When I first saw the video of VKTRY insoles on Facebook, I was intrigued. Their classic schtick is having someone take an athletic shoe onto a field, bend it back so the toe reaches the heel and then allowing the shoe to flip forward. Typically, the shoes will do a rotation, or maybe half, and fall flat on the ground. Then they replace the insole with a VKTRY insole and repeat the test, but this time the shoe flies about six feet into the air. So how does this make you run faster, jump higher, etc? Allow me to explain.
VKTRY insoles are made with a high-grade carbon fiber footplate and a patented curved design and then calibrated to the predictive ground force of the athlete based on activity and weight. The insoles operate on the idea that you can run faster and jump higher if a higher percentage of the energy you put into the ground is returned, the unique combination of carbon fiber and patented design return a crazy amount of force back into your movement allowing you to do what you do, but better. They have undergone rigorous independent testing with athletes all over the globe and the conclusion is that if you are looking for a leg-up, look no further.
I tested the VKTRY insoles in both my indoor soccer shoes (I play 3x a week) and my trusty middle distance running shoes and I was absolutely impressed with the performance. First of all, they are really, shockingly comfortable! I was bracing for foot pain after my first game in the soles, but honestly, I had no discomfort. I found them to be springy and responsive, which helped my legs throughout the game. In a way that it never has, running felt effortless to me. The other aspect that concerned me is how these would change the fit of both my indoor soccer shoes and running shoes, and I am happy to report that while slightly tighter, there was no discernible difference between the VKTRY soles and the standard soles that came with each pair. This is big for me because when I find shoes I like in each of these activities the last thing I want to do is have to hunt down a different style.
To be honest, I did feel a boost in performance, speed, and jumping ability. In a way, I felt like I was cheating…and I loved it.
The Skinny: If you have an athlete or someone that thinks they are an athlete on your list, and if they have ever said: “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” This is the perfect gift for them.
To follow along on Ben's pursuits, follow him on Instagram: @Benchecketts