Category Archives: Fitness

My Very Own Ugly Ball!

I just posted my review of the DailyHiit 30 Day Challenge earlier today – what a journey that was!  So check it out if you are looking for a great total body fitness program that you can get done in 15-30 minutes a day.

ugiballpinkOne of the pieces of equipment they use frequently is the Ugi Ball.  It is a weighted, squishy ball that you can use like a sandbag, or to balance on when doing exercises.  It has enough firmness to offer support, but is unsteady enough to make you use muscles to keep your balance better.  They are really nice looking, and generally the reviews are extremely positive, but for the price, I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase one (of course if anyone wants to send me one to review, just send me a message 😉 ).

So I poked around the intarwebs a bit and discovered this gentleman’s homemade version, which is dubbed the Ugly Ball.  Having been around a sewing machine enough that I didn’t feel too intimidated, I printed out his pattern and set out to find material.

My local craft stores did not offer what I needed, but having a business that sells massage therapy equipment means I have contacts with manufacturers, and one of my representatives was kind enough to find some material they use to upholster massage tables and chairs with.  It’s perfect for this project, because I know it is soft but very durable.  I picked up some foam, some quilting batting, matching color thread and a 14″ zipper and set to work.

It took about 30 minutes to cut the pattern out so I ended up with 12 individual pieces, and an additional 2 hours or so to do the sewing.  My version is rather lumpy, I stuffed it with old t-shirts as well to help fill it in a little more.  I weighed it, it comes to just under 5 pounds, and it’s easy enough to shove a bag of bolts from the hardware store in the middle if I need to add a little more to the weight later on.  Here’s the finished product:

myuglyball1 myuglyball2

Can’t wait to be able to use it!

Review: The January 2013 DailyHiit 30 Day Challenge

In the past few months I have made small changes to my overall diet and exercise routines.  I’m trying to eat more simply – less processed foods, more fresh stuff, and have been trying out HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts to see what kind of results I get.

dailyhiitI discovered the BodyRock/DailyHiit people, who have HUNDREDS of videos up on YouTube (their channel is here).  They began a 30 Day Challenge back in January, but I wasn’t able to start it at the time.  I was glad I waited, because someone created a 30 day calendar with all the names of the videos in order, so I printed it out and have been working from that (CLICK HERE for the calendar PDF) – I am happy to credit whomever made it, but when I tried to find where I got it, I just couldn’t locate it again.  While the DailyHiit website is chock full of information, the organization is still lacking in some areas (Facebook comments are ripe with “where do I start!?!” and “how do I find XYZ?!?”).


This is LisaMarie, not me. Not sure I will get to that level of fitness, but I certainly respect her hard work and dedication!

Not sure if HIIT is right for you?  I know I was a little nervous about something that was “high intensity”, but I found that there are a lot of modifications that can be done to stay at your level and you can work up to the harder stuff as you gain strength and muscle.  Besides, just look at LisaMarie, one of the hosts of the videos…  she’s lean and strong, and they love to post pictures from people who have transformed themselves.  Plenty of people that look like me have gotten a lot out of it, so why not try it out!

I figured if anyone wants the challenge in order, you can also come back here to go day by day.  Since this will be a very long post, I will break it up into pages so it doesn’t crit you with a wall of text.  Also, I noted what pieces of equipment they used each day.  The majority of exercises can be modified to not using equipment, although there are some that you will just need to substitute another exercise in.  By the end of the challenge, I already had or purchased a yoga mat, a sandbag, and a set of Equalizers.  They also use a set of these PowerBlock SportBlock hand weights, a weighted jump rope, and I noticed that they also use these grip pads.  You can read my review of the Equalizers from the link.  I did not purchase the same sandbag they use, and the only real difference is that the one I have does not have a center handle for doing evenly-weighted swinging.  Aside from that I love the sandbag, I think it’s my favorite piece of gear.  I love the design of the hand weights they use, but at $160 for the set, I am going to have to make do with something else for now.  I never got the jump rope, I simply do not have the space in the room I exercise in to use one without taking out light fixtures.  I will likely pick up a pair of the grip pads, however, I have found times when those would come in handy for sure.  Now on to the 30 day review…

Product Review: Lebert Equalizers

LebertEqualizer1I’ve been deeply entrenched in a 30 day fitness challenge put together by the DailyHiit folks, and they have several pieces of equipment that they use regularly in their videos.  One they use for a lot of their exercises is a set of the Lebert Equalizers, simply two metal stands that can be used in many configurations to help aid your workout.

They aren’t cheap, I did find mine through Power Systems and while deciding whether or not to take the plunge on actually purchasing them I saw advertisements encouraging me to return and complete my order with a free shipping code.  I did see that some people had been able to manufacture their own, but ultimately I wasn’t confident I could do that myself so I bought them.

lebertequalizer4First, the pros: the Equalizers are definitely helpful in doing exercises you may not otherwise be able to do.  There are plenty of items around the house you might be able to modify or use to do similar exercises, but I found there were a few I just could not do without them.  Many people use chairs or coffee tables to take the place of an Equalizer and get just as effective of a workout.  With my limited space, and household items, I just couldn’t do much substitution so that’s why I decided to go forward with them.  They have a smaller footprint and can be stored fairly easily without being too in the way.  They weigh about 8 pounds each so they can double as extra weights for some exercises.  They also feel very solid – I do not feel like there is a weakness to them, even at the places where the bases screw into the top frame.  They are cool looking enough that my daughter gravitated toward them and wanted to do all the exercises on their poster.  In addition to the poster of exercises, they also give you a DVD full of Beginner and Intermediate exercises you can do with them.

lebertequalizer3Now the cons: Upon opening the box they arrived in I was hit with an overpowering chemical smell.  I have smelled this before (particularly with sporting equipment, go figure), it’s a pungent odor that my nose equates with burnt rubber.  I hoped that being out of the box and bubble wrapping would allow it to “de-gas”, but my husband walked into the room I exercise in about 24 hours after I got them and immediately asked who was smoking cigarettes in there!  We are a smoke-free household, and when I entered I could still smell the original odor.  I currently have an Airwick plug in wide open to try and mask the smell.  There are two other complaints I have with the Equalizers, one is that the end-caps on the feet are plastic, NOT rubber as I would expect.  With hardwood floors, these can slide easily and I must try and position them on my yoga mat for safety.  Doing this sometimes forces me to modify exercises or take longer than normal to move from one exercise to another, which I find a but irritating and throws off my rhythm.  The last complaint I have is that Equalizers are a One Size Fits All product, when clearly, they need to make them adjustable or make other sizes for people of different heights.  I think this is perfect for someone around 5’7″.  I am 5’11” and when standing next to it, my fingernails JUST brush the hand grip.  I think for someone of my height, it needs to be at least 3″ taller.

I am not unhappy I purchased them, but nor can I give them a top score.  I am hoping the smell will eventually dissipate, and will just have to get used to crouching down further to adjust for the height.  Not sure what I will do about the caps, perhaps try and wrap them in something to help give them some stick, or only use them up against the wall so they don’t slide.

UPDATE:  Wanted to swing back in and let you know that the odor did indeed go away.  While they are not my main piece of exercise equipment, they are still in use today!

(Photos from Lebert Fitness)
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