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. Available in 6, 8, 10 or 12 lbs, each in a different color.
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 unless you bear-hugged it. 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. I could see Ugi working nicely for independent personal trainers because of its versatility and portability.
Available at Amazon or Ugifit.com; $89 for Ugi at Home Kit, which includes ball, DVD, workout booklet, guide to good eating and more.