The fitness-freak father

Health and exercise gift ideas.

That dad sure is a wiry old cuss. The hair is going and the crow’s feet are creeping in, but his body is pure Adonis. However, like all things in life, that hard exterior comes at a price: The family hasn’t seen him in a fortnight because he spends all of his spare time down at the gym. The absentee-father routine is getting a bit tiresome, and you’re half-tempted to leave dear old dad off this year’s Christmas list. If it wasn’t for the very real danger that he might reciprocate, you would.

Instead, you opt for a gag gift, like, say, a phony $25 gift certificate to the local rhytidectomy clinic. Won’t it be swell to watch his jaw drop when he discovers he’s about six grand short of the actual cost of a face lift? Maybe he’ll even belatedly get the message that time waits for no one, no matter how much they can bench press.

Then again, you never know—he just might blow your entire college fund on the procedure in a fit of vanity.

Perhaps that’s a chance you’re unwilling to take. It’s understandable. Fortunately, there are plenty of legitimate gifts to choose from for the more “mature” fitness buff. For instance, if you’re truly pining for some quality time with the old man, why not bring the gym closer to home? You’ll find all the basics for performing a vigorous workout, from dumbbell sets to treadmills to squat racks, new and used, at Sacramento Exercise Equipment Center (5154 Auburn Boulevard, (916) 331-7030).

But maybe bringing the gym closer to home is the last thing you want to do. In fact, your dad’s obsession with his own body (women have no edge on men in this regard) is driving you nuts. “Do I look fat?” is his mantra, generally recited in front of a full-length mirror in the hallway while your friends are over visiting. Make him go away with a Tanita body fat scale ($50 and up, Such scales determine the percentage of body fat compared to muscle tissue by measuring the body’s electrical conductivity. Armed with this information, pops will be able to increase the efficiency of his workouts and thereby spend more time at home with the fam.

You might also encourage Dad to get some fresh air once in a while. Maybe if you got his old bike a tune-up or a brake adjustment from The Bicycle Chef ($85 and $15, respectively, The Bicycle Chef, 2409 J Street, (916) 447-9118). Or just encourage alternative methods of body sculpting. Hook dad up with a fancy Breville Juice Fountain Elite ($300; William Glen, 2647 Town and Country Plaza; (916) 481-2397). With all kinds of crazy promises, like its ability to pulp a carrot at the oh-so-necessary speed of 13,000 rpm, dad won’t feel that his machismo is challenged by the domestic accessory. And, who knows, maybe dad’s addictive personality will latch onto health foods and inspire him to actually participate in family dinners. Happy Holidays for everyone.