Gift Guide: Wellness

The Hot Spring Vanguard Tub

Could the big holiday splurge bring warmth and relaxation to you, your family and your friends? It could if your big splurge were the purchase of a hot tub. The Hot Spring Vanguard Tub seats six and has 32 jets, including hydromassage and Moto-massage jets. It’s energy-efficient and has an effective filtration system. The Hot Spring Vanguard holds 400 gallons of water. Different shells are available to create the look you choose. Sound system is available (optional). It’s quite possible that you’ll feel a Hot Spring Vanguard Tub is the gift that keeps on giving. You can find it at Teddy Bear Pools and Spa at 41 East Street in Chicopee, online (, or by calling (413)594-2666.


Fire Cider

Purported to be a cure for what ails you, Fire Cider is a locally made product meant to boost your immune system. Raw wildflower honey from Merrimack Valley Apiary in Billerica is used, though Fire Cider’s producers haven’t yet found a New England provider for the base ingredient: raw, organic, unpasteurized living apple cider. With many other organic ingredients, including oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, garlic, tumeric and Habanero pepper, Fire Cider packs a punch.

A small business created by three principals with support from family members, Shire City Herbals, makers of Fire Cider, evolved from its owners’ own self-care practices. The company’s philosophy is that “whole foods make the best medicine.” An herbal remedy approved not by the FDA but by “our grandmothers,” Fire Cider is thought to be helpful for colds, sore throats, heartburn, allergies and even as a hangover cure. Fire Cider is available at Bread Euphoria, 206 Main Street, Haydenville (413-269-7757). To learn more about the product, go to its website,, or email


Bad Back Yoga Workshop Series

Is someone on your list struggling with back pain? Or is that someone you? How about this for a hopeful nod to the New Year: give as a gift or enroll yourself in a four-class workshop called Yoga for Back Care at Vega Yoga in Holyoke’s Open Square complex. Debra Vega will teach the course in the spring, dates TBA. The address is 4 Open Square Way, Suite 221, Holyoke.

The two main causes of lower back pain are weak musculature, especially the back and areas surrounding the back, and immobility of the hips. The workshop is designed to meet the needs of those with chronic low back pain or more generalized back discomfort, or to learn preventive care. The teacher can tailor the workshop to meet the students’ needs more specifically. You can get more information from the website—and pay for the workshop on the site ( via Paypal. Call (413) 519-4966 or email


Ski and Boot Package

The skis are flashy, the boots are improved, and the real gift can’t be unleashed until you’re on the mountain. Bob Weiss of Holyoke’s Competitive Edge ( can provide you with counsel on a solid buy for women’s skis and boots. This year’s pick: the Atomic Affinity Pure ski paired with the Atomic Hawx 80 boot.

Women’s skis have long left behind the days when they were “beginner men’s skis painted pink.” The quality, says Weiss, is much improved. Today’s skis have been designed to make it easier to carve turns. These skis enjoy “perfect versatility” to make them work well in all snow conditions. The Hawx 80 boots are suited for upper-middle-range skiers and are as warm, comfortable and “easy to deal with” as boots come, Weiss says: “They open up more easily from the front—easy on, easy off.” Weiss finds customers slip into them and want to buy them pretty much immediately. The skis and bindings can be yours for $539 and the boots are $269. The Holyoke Competitive Edge Store is located at 500 Northampton Street (Rte. 5) and the phone number is (413) 538-7662.


Taproot Threads Preservation Society Onesie

Greenfield artisan Carol Michelfelder hand-screens “responsibly sourced clothing” to brighten up tees, skirts, dresses and hoodies. Colette Katsikas of Essentials saw the clothing and thought of her audience of canning, jamming foodies and local food boosters who happen also to be baby lovers. Who could resist the perfect healthy, local food lover item for any baby, Taproot Threads’ onesie bearing the image of a jar with the moniker “Pioneer Valley Preservation Society Jr. Member” ($19.95)? It’s 100 percent combed organic cotton by American Apparel, dyed with environmentally conscious water-based inks and individually hand-screened. Sizes are 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months and 18-24 months. For more info, call Essentials (413-584-2327), stop by 88 Main Street, Northampton, or visit


Weleda Cold Cream

Weleda, a 90-year-old company based in cold, cold Switzerland, knows a thing or two about how to protect skin from the harsh elements that are unleashed in winter weather. Luahn Page, co-owner of Northampton’s Joia Beauty, recommends this holiday gift for the cold weather enthusiasts on your list—or the folks that endure winter by remaining active outside despite the cold. The product is simply called Cold Cream. A one-ounce tube sells for $16. “If I know a customer walks or is active outdoors in other ways, I recommend this because Cold Cream offers the skin care while it simultaneously provides a barrier from dry, cold air,” says Page. Although it’s protective, Cold Cream is not so heavy or greasy as to feel bothersome.

Joia Beauty carries many Weleda products, and given the company’s origins, you can expect to find other good ideas for cold weather protection and reparation at the store. Joia Beauty is located at 6 Crafts Avenue. You can call (413)-585-5888 or visit


Rock Gym Gift Card

Scale new heights in 2014. That’s a gift you can deliver. Well, at least you can deliver access to the wall with the handholds to climb. How high your gift recipient gets isn’t on you.

Central Rock Gym at 165 Russell Street in Hadley ( is the spot for sport, skill building or a mini-adventure that’s not outside in sub-freezing temperatures. The emphasis is on fun, although there’s no question that you can improve your fitness level and simultaneously avoid the rut of the same old gym routine. Whether your gift is a one-time trial or a membership, the opportunity to explore the way up—and back down—represents a different kind of gift. Afterschool programming for kids is also available. For more information, call (413) 584-7625.

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

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