We all need to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, but sometimes, that can be nearly impossible while battling an endless to-do list. With the overwhelming array of workout equipment, videos, classes, and gym memberships, just thinking about what to invest in can become a workout itself.
Thanks to a fitness class invite, I’ve come across a workout system that puts the “fun” in functional training. Ugi, a brand-new total fitness program, utilizes a workout ball to do 30 exercises in 30 minutes. If you’re like me and like to switch it up during a workout, then Ugi will do it for you, giving you a series of one-minute exercises that will definitely work you out hard.
When it comes to workouts, I feel I’ve done it all: yoga, spin classes, kickboxing, Zumba. Then of course, there’s going to the gym. One of the perks of a gym membership is having access to so many different kinds of work out equipment. It’s like a playground; there’s so much to play with, but it can be a drag when what you want to use is being used. Sometimes, I’d wait around for someone to finish using my favorite pieces of equipment, losing my momentum and causing my heart rate to go down. I quit going to the gym for a few months and bought a bunch of equipment to use at home, but between all the medicine balls, barbells, kettleballs, and such, I became overwhelmed with what to use and when to use it. With Ugi, you won’t have to purchase different equipment to clutter your space. All you’ll need is the specially designed ball, a yoga mat, and plenty of water. You won’t be stuck trying to remember what exactly to do with the ball either, because the Ugi program comes complete with a DVD and flip chart featuring exercises with the Ugi ball.
I tried out a Ugi class at a special fitness event at Equinox in San Francisco. I’ve been to my fair share of gyms, and even worked at one after college, but this gym reigns over it all. First off, it’s located in the heart of the Financial District in the old Pacific Coast Stock Exchange Building, which means there are plenty of hot business men historic features in and around the gym. Just approaching the building and walking up the stairs felt epic. It had a great open space, the latest workout machines, a fancy lap pool, a media lounge (to tweet between workouts), and the locker rooms used to be the vaults. It was the perfect location for such an innovative workout like Ugi.
The mirrored studio had plenty of Ugi balls plopped on one side of the room. Seeing all the balls in the different colors made me feel giddy inside, like a child ready to play a game. Ugi can be fun, like a game, but it’s a serious workout. The color of the ball coincides with the weight, ranging from six to twelve points. I chose the pink eight-pound ball because I wanted to challenge myself, and well, because pink is such a pretty color!
After grabbing a yoga mat, Sara Shears, personal trainer and creator and co-founder of Ugi, started the workout. The ball, measuring 15 inches in diameter, felt just like a small beanbag. She got us right into using the Ugi by swinging it across our bodies to work on our core. I love this exercise and do it frequently at home with a medicine ball, but the size, weight, and texture of the Ugi really bring an element of fun.
By the third workout, I was already feeling it. Keep in mind that this was only after three minutes. I even thought I should have started off with the purple six-pound ball instead. After five minutes, we had already leaped and lunged, worked out the core, and worked on cardio, strength, and balance. I couldn’t believe that after five minutes I already broke out a sweat.
Many of the exercises were very familiar to me, and it was exciting to see the different ways that Ugi can be used to work out your body. For instance, the plank is a great way to work out your core, but by combining it with the Ugi ball, you incorporate balance training. Sara would not let you just hold there with a plank, though, because she really gets the most out of a minute. We probably did four variations of the plank, kicking our legs up or around, as we tried to balance our weight on the ball.
I really appreciate how Sara showed us other modifications to the exercises, for instance by taking it down an notch by replacing jumping with stepping. I needed to do this because after fifteen minutes, my S’well water bottle was empty and my Insight tank was soaked with sweat. I’ve run straight for 2.5 hours before, and never have I sweat like this. For some exercises, I couldn’t even finish the one-minute interval, but for others, I kept it up the full minute. These minute-long exercises are truly ideal, because you get to vary your workout completely, and if there’s an exercise that’s not your favorite, you’ll be over with it in a minute.
The Ugi ball was used in so many ways: as a weight, as a marker, to balance on, and then we used it to stabilize during some stretches. It was very intense, but completely fast-paced and engaging. The class worked out a variety of muscle groups and actually went on for 45 minutes including a cool down, but the Ugi program’s 30 minute workouts can be combined and modified to bring you the workout that’s best for your fitness needs. If you only have 15 minutes, don’t let that keep you from working yourself out; do each exercise for just 30 seconds. Remember, the key is to keep your body active everyday, and Sara Shears really put in work to Ugi to make sure you’ll do the same.
I can imagine the Ugi ball at my house, in plain view, not tucked away and forgotten like most of my workout gear. It’s such an interesting piece of equipment, with such functionality and versatility, that it will definitely get some play in any household. Plus, it’s small enough for workouts on the go, so there will be no excuses. If you want a complete workout, “U got it” with Ugi.
Ready to start working out with Ugi? Cop a Ugi at Home program to get the ball rolling…and your body sweating!
Graphics by C-Rocka.
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