Some time in the past few years, medicine balls came back in style – and they’re sleeker and more sporty than ever. What I like best about the latest medicine ball trend, however, is how it’s spurred a number of spinoffs.
In addition to med balls, you can choose from an array of weighted exercise orbs that have distinct benefits of their own. Here are three weighted fitness balls that stand out to me as being especially clever and user-friendly.
UGI (pronounced “you-guy” like how you say the man’s name Guy en Français): At 15 inches in diameter, the Ugi ball is a bit bigger than an old-school medicine ball but with that same squishy, beanbag quality.
However, unlike those drab med balls from decades ago, Ugi fitness balls – which are available in 6, 8, 10 or 12 pounds – come in appealing colors like bright pink, leaf green and a grapey purple. (I think a Lolë yellow would be nice, too.)
In addition to its cheerful look, the Ugi fitness ball offers a lot of versatility. Because it’s like a medicine ball but big and comfortable enough to lean, sit and kneel on, it also fits the function of a stability ball. I’d say it’s more multipurpose, though, and easier to store because it takes up less space.
Find a Ugi for $129 here.
SOFT-SHELL BALL: Even though these fitness balls are smooth instead of bumpy like a lot of medicine balls are, they don’t slip out of your hands. I included the soft-shell ball in this blog post because it’s compact enough to fit securely in one hand – a bonus for one-armed exercises or for tossing from one hand to the other.
Most soft-shell balls come in weight increments under 10 pounds, so they make a good substitute for dumbbells of about the same weight.
One of my favorite exercises with the soft-shell fitness ball is to chuck it in the air then catch it while doing squats at the same time – something I’d never dream of doing with a dumbbell! And because this mini ball has a texture that’s soft and smooth, you don’t have to worry about it denting or scratching a wood floor in a home gym or fitness studio (or chipping the manicure you splurged on) like metal dumbbells might.
KAMAGON BALL: The Kamagon Ball (which comes in 9-inch and 14-inch versions) reminds me of what you might get if you cross a stability ball with a kettlebell with a medicine ball. It has handles on either side, making it very comfortable to hold and gently swing about.
In addition to its handles, this rubber fitness tool is unique because it’s filled with water – that’s how it gets its weight. You just fill the ball up to whatever heaviness you want: For example, the 14-inch ball weighs eight pounds sans water and you can add up to 50 pounds with water; the soon-to-be-released 9-inch ball weighs two pounds on its own and has a capacity of 15 pounds with water.
This product is based on “Hydro-Inertia™,” which the Kamagon folks describe as “the utilization of water to create an unstable resistance that increases core strength and stability during exercise.” Basically, the water produces loads that shift as you move the ball. All that agua sloshing around is a good way to challenge your muscles, but the main attraction for me is that the Kamagon Ball is a creative twist on what’s already on the market.
Find it here for $149