What It Is: Think of the weighted Ugi ball as a souped-up version of a medicine ball. At 15 inches in diameter, it’s bigger than a med ball and more versatile, too, because of its squish factor (which makes it wobble when you lean, kneel or stand on it). Working out Ugi-style is sort of like carrying around a really heavy beanbag. It reminds me of a more attractive version of the Performance Ball. Available in 6, 8, 10 or 12 lbs.
What You Might Not Know: Ugi is pronounced “you-guy” (“guy,” as in how you say the name “Guy” in French. Like hockey player Guy Lafleur.). The name stands for “U Got It,” meaning you get all you need, fitness-wise, from the Ugi ball and its accompanying resources: exercise booklet, instructional DVD and eating guide.
Feelin’ the Love: Personal trainer and Ugi creator Sara Shears put me through the paces with a tough half-hour workout featuring 30 exercises lasting about a minute each. Many of the moves are ones you might have seen before – alternating lunges, planks, biceps curls – but the Ugi ball makes them feel different enough so they’re exciting again. The funnest exercise for me was one you can’t do with dumbbells – shot-putting the ball across the room then running to fetch it. Bottom line, this squishy ball works: The day after the workout, as I write this post, I’ve got a satisfying amount of muscle soreness.
If I Could Change One Thing: At times, the size of the ball felt cumbersome and awkward to get a grip on (although I’m told newer versions are less prone to slippage). Still, during some exercises, I couldn’t help equating lugging ol’ Ugi around to climbing stairs with an overstuffed bag of groceries: effective for getting the heart pumping and muscles burning – but you can’t wait for it to be over.
Should You Buy It: While most of the Ugi moves can be modified for beginners, it’s probably best suited to experienced fitness enthusiasts looking for that next “new thing” to amp up a workout. I could see Ugi working nicely for independent personal trainers because of its versatility and portability. Fitness pros: Be sure to check out the Ugi ball (and demo exercises) at various fitness tradeshows this year.
Ugifit.com; $189 (for Ugi at Home kit, which includes ball, DVD, workout booklet, guide to good eating and more).