Lamar Crowell wanted to give the gift of health, and he didn't mind spending $12,000 to do it.
Mr. Crowell, the CEO of Keystone Homes Inc. in Augusta, wanted to make his employees more fit, which in turn would lower his health insurance premiums and at the same time make his workers happier and more productive.
To do so, he bought 33 new bicycles - one for each employee.
Mr. Crowell is among the many who appreciate the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle and who see the holiday spirit of giving as an opportunity to pass their values on to others.
"You can avoid a lot of other problems if you stay healthy and reduce stress. I think it's just a positive approach to life," he said.
That spirit is not only helping encourage fitness, but this time of year it's also lining the coffers of health-related businesses.
Mr. Crowell's mega-purchase, for instance, was the biggest single buy ever at Andy Jordan's Bicycle Warehouse.
"I about hit the floor," owner Andy Jordan said.
At Hand Over Stress, a massage-therapy clinic in Augusta, 10 to 15 gift certificates are sold daily as Christmas presents, therapist Jennifer Hartley said. The certificates range from half-hour sessions from $35, to $225 packages.
"We've been extremely blessed this season," she said.
Holidays are also a busy time at New Life Natural Foods on Washington Road, said manager Dan Wager. Many people who try specialty juices and other health foods often end up giving gift certificates to friends and family, he said.
Giving something healthy is the right thing to do, said Jerry Porter, who shops at New Life.
"If you give someone something healthy, it shows you care about someone, and that you wish them well," he said.
A healthy gift might be just the sort of thing needed to get someone's fitness program on track, said Lisa Cummins, a certified athletic trainer with the MCG Sports Medicine Center.
You might jump-start them by giving a gift certificate or personal training session, she said.
Healthy gifts are what most people want, said Demetrius Jones, the owner of Demetrius Jones Personal Fitness and Wellness Studio.
"They want something that's going to contribute to a healthy lifestyle," he said.
Healthy gifts are also a way to help someone get in shape without offending them, said Tim Letman, the manager of Omni Health and Fitness on Walton Way Extension.
"Someone might mention that it's something that they want, and you can surprise them with it. It's a positive kind of thing," he said.
December and January are typically busy months for businesses catering to the health conscious, Ms. Cummins said.
"We think that we can eat all we want during the holiday season and start (exercising) after the new year," she said.
But those that make use of healthy gifts right after the holidays must keep up with healthy regimens, she said.
"You have to be motivated throughout the year," she said.
Reach Adrian Burns at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org.