At the end of last weeks PT session – red faced, drenched in sweat and gasping for air, I collapsed to the floor awaiting a life changing stroke – my trainer was relaxed and ambivalent, checking her nails. The conversation we were about to have would not only surprise me, it would inspire me. She leaned against the wall, looked up and pondered the magic of Christmas looming closer, her eyes glistened as her smile widened and her words danced to a silent yule time melody.

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the whole year for all of us to stop and reflect on what’s really important.’

The perfect glutes? No. Somehow I could tell that she wasn’t referring to my “water retaining” buttocks.

‘Gun control?’

‘No, well yes gun control is important but I was thinking of something much closer to our hearts.’

‘Recycling, global warming and protecting pandas?’ Nailed it, or at least it was sure to be one of those three. My money was on the pandas and I was relieved that, for the first time in what felt like forever, she didn’t ridicule me about my oversized bum.

‘Yes, they’re all really important but I was thinking more about family.’

‘Of course! Family.’ “Water retention” is a euphemism that PTs often use to make you feel better about having a big bum, still glad she didn’t mention it.

If you need some prompting, family are those hopelessly loveable creatures who you would probably never choose as friends but they keep turning up to weddings and birthdays and of course, the annual chart topper … Christmas. But before they start bustling in we need to stop and consider the perfect gift for those who we love the most.

That’s the challenge isn’t it?

‘What do you buy for somebody who already has everything?’

Did I say that out loud? I was still delirious and possibly hallucinating from my workout.

My trainer traced a single finger along the length of the weight bench next to her, she took a playful bite into her lower lip and snapped both of her big beautiful brown eyes back at me, ‘Nothing says “I love you” like a shiny new set of dumbbells or a Concept Two Model D rowing machine with a solid five-hundred pound user weight capacity … especially to anyone with a fat arse like yours’.

She was right and I knew it.

I decided that this year instead of a their body weight in Ferrero Rocher chocolates or another “101 Ways to Deep Fry Pork Crackle”, that’s a cook book, I’d confront the elephant in the room (not Cousin Dave – he stinks worse than a three day dead dumpster dwelling homeless person – but the metaphorical elephant) and buy the people I love something that they really do need. Something to get them exercising, something that would help to improve their health rather than challenge it, after all, our health is the most important thing we’ve got! It’s something we should all treasure, something we should all fight for!

Yes! <insert Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ right here> And I’m gunna make it my personal mission to bestow upon my family loved ones the tools, nay, the weapons to carry on that fight!

I could start small with a Fitbit for Aunt June, she’s twice the girl she was after sharing a six month Caribbean candy cruise with a guy who I’m reasonably certain actually was Willy Wonka. I’m sure that Uncle John would love busting out to a Tap Out Extreme DVD Box Set, sure he’s seventy-three with a walking frame but it’s my way of saying “Hey old timer, there’s a young man trapped inside you, let him out. A young man with broad shoulders who knows that those shoulders are reserved for carrying rough sawn lumbar, cases of beer and distressed damsels from burning buildings. A young man who often chooses to shoulder up all three at once before a breakfast of freshly speared wild boar and welder’s torch charred eggplant, let him out. C’MON UNCLE JOHN! LET HIM OUT!” … or words to that effect.

Instead of gate crashing the kids table and ring-leading them to make up mean names about fat family members like “Custard Gut”, or “Uncle Roger is so fat I think must’ve eaten Santa,” I’m going to surprise Uncle Roger with a nice new exercise bike. Hell, I’m in my forties now and I really should know better, plus that one about Santa doesn’t always augur well with the little ones.

The best thing about this plan is not that it shows that I really do care and anyone who buys them tasty, calorie rich food truly doesn’t. No. Although they’re both obviously benefits that are sure to catapult my status within the family to one beyond that of a god. But I’m just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary plan, so I guess I’d be happy to settle for a saint-hood. The best thing about this plan is that it dramatically reduces the chances of re-gifting. Ever tried to re-gift an elliptical?

Aunt Betty is going to be the trickiest to buy for. She truly has everything – and then some. I wonder if a tube of cellulite cream and a nice new treadmill with an extra wide deck area to thoughtfully accommodate her huge Greek cathedral column like legs would convince her to write me back into her will?