5 NEW Ways to Work Out at Home in the Winter

exercise at home

When is it most challenging to work out? Some of you might say every day. LOL! Yes, we understand. Sometimes it IS hard to get up the motivation to exercise, but when you work out at home it’s easier. 

If your main form of exercise is outdoor walking or other activities that require you to brave the elements, it’s easy to find a reason not to give it a go when temps drop below 40 degrees F. We understand that too! But, we’re not letting you off the hook so easily.

The key to staying active is to find something you enjoy doing, so you actually look forward to working out.

We’ve been researching some of the latest fitness trends and workouts you can do at home so you don’t have to brave the elements to stay fit this winter. Some of these you may not have heard of before – so get ready to try something new and different.


UGI Fit – it’s a strange name but an effective, fun and challenging way to get a total body workout. This workout, developed by a kinesiologist, works your entire body in 30 minutes with the help of a squishy ball that weighs 10 pounds.You can also purchase a 12 pound ball for a greater challenge.

Wondering what UGI means?  it stands for “U got it.”

Unlike stability balls and medicine balls, the UGI ball you use to get “UGI fit” is soft and flexible. The ball comes with a DVD that shows you how to do 5 workouts, an instructional guide as well as a food guide and iPhone app with interval timer.

The UGI Fit DVD leads you through a series of exercises, both cardio and strength, you do with a UGI ball. The exercises target every area of your body, especially your core, and offer lots of variety.

Having done one of these workouts myself, I can tell you you’re in constant motion the whole time and the workouts DO get your heart rate up.

Using the ball, you’ll do short bursts of cardio with strength segments using the ball as resistance. Because the ball is relatively light in weight, you won’t build significant muscle mass with this workout.Instead, you’ll burn fat, boost your cardiovascular fitness and improve your functional fitness.

What is functional fitness? Functional exercises are those that train your muscles to work better together. When you’re functionally fit, the activities you do every day are easier and your risk for injury is lower when you do them.

UGI fitness exercises work multiple muscle groups in a single exercise, which burns more calories and increases your heart rate more than isolation exercises like biceps curls where you only use one muscle group.

All in all, UGI Fit offers a time-expedient way to get a total body workout and the addition of the ball makes it fun and interesting. The downside is you need the UGI Fit ball and it’s not cheap.

On the other hand, it’s probably not a large price to pay if it increases your fitness level and you enjoy doing it.

Pound Rockout Workout

Does the idea of rock music, dancing and playing the drums appeal to you? Are you a frustrated rock star who dreams of performing in front of masses of adoring fans?

Then you’ll love the Pound Rockout Workout. During this fast-paced workout you hold a pair of one-pound weighted drumsticks, called Ripsticks, and use them to pound the floor and tap them together as you go through sequences of exercises that involve dance moves, jumps, lunges and squats. 

Needless to say, this isn’t your typical workout, but it does get your heart rate up and burn calories. According to one site I checked, you can burn between 500 and 900 calories per hour when you do this workout. I think this is a little on the high side, but it does give you a total body workout that’s anything but boring.

lazy dog

Why the drumsticks? The main purpose is to distract you – and it works. When you’re beating two drumsticks together during the heat of a workout, especially to the tune of loud music, it’s easy to forget that you’re exercising and not a rock star giving a concert.

To be honest, this type of workout isn’t our style – but if you find traditional workouts boring, this will shake things up for you.

Some parts of the country offer Pound Rockout classes. The other option is to get a Pound Rockout DVD and the ripsticks and do it at home.

Battling Ropes

It used to be the only way to get a workout with a rope was to jump rope. Times have changed. Battling ropes are long, thick ropes that are heavier than a jump rope. You anchor the rope by wrapping it around a pole. Once anchored, you grab the two ends and slam the ends up and down with force and speed. Great for all the muscles in your upper body.

There are lots of other exercises you can do with battling ropes as well, such as create waves with the ropes and power slams where you forcefully hit the ropes against the ground. Good way to relieve frustration too!

Because the ropes are weighted, you build strength in your upper body and burn significant calories. Having done this ourselves, we will assure you 20 minutes of battling ropes will leave you sweaty and winded.

We’ve only mentioned a few exercises you can do with battling ropes – there are lots more. Here’s a video showing more:

Once you have the ropes, there are a number of YouTube videos that’ll lead you through a workout. Most battling ropes are about 50 feet long. If you’re going to use the rope indoors, choose one made of synthetic fibers that won’t shed. The optimal diameter is 1.5 inches for most people.


Kickboxing is nothing new, but I can’t resist mentioning it because it’s fun and has amazing benefits. Not only is kickboxing fun, it combines the benefits of martial arts, cardiovascular exercise and boxing into a single workout.

It also sharpens your self-defense skills. That could come in handy one day when you’re in a dark alley and a shady character sneaks up behind you.

You need very little room to do a kickboxing workout and you don’t need to invest in a DVD or take a class. Just search for Billy Blanks full-length videos on YouTube and you’ll find enough workouts to keep you kicking and punching for weeks.

I just did one this morning and it was tough! He also has a number of full-length bootcamp workouts that combine kickboxing moves with bodyweight exercises. Here’s Billy Blanks and his crew in action:

Other Tips for Staying Active All Winter Long

One thing that works for me is to exercise first thing in the morning before other things get in the way. Way back, I used to work out after dinner. With this approach, it was SO easy to find an excuse not to do it.

Better to get your workout done first thing before you have time to talk yourself out of it.

Secondly, change things up. Even when you find a workout you like, keep trying new things. Boredom is the kiss of death when it comes to staying motivated. Plus, your body adapts to doing the same old, same old, and you’ll stop making improvements in your fitness level once your body “catches on.”

You’re more likely to keep making gains when you keep your workouts varied. Don’t get into an exercise rut!

Thirdly, exercise for the right reasons. Research shows you’re more likely to stick with exercise when you do it not for superficial reasons, like looking good in a bathing suit or a pair of tight jeans, but because it increases your energy level and helps you stay healthy.

Think about the IMMEDIATE benefits exercise offers – the burst of feel-good chemicals called endorphins you get after a workout. Then consider how exercise lowers your risk for a ton of health problems. The trite, old saying about exercise being good medicine is true.

Finally, be an “opportunistic” exerciser. Turn things that you already have to do into exercise. A perfect example is a job almost everyone has to do at one time or other – cook and clean. Try these sneaky ways to burn more calories when you’re in the kitchen:

  • Pick up the speed when you scrub the kitchen counters. Press that sponge down hard and move your arm over the counter FAST.
  • Use a metal pan as a kettlebell. Do a few “kettlebell” swings before putting placing the pain in the cabinet.
  • Put the kitchen gadgets aside and use arm power to chop and stir rather than a food processor.
  • Don’t stand around waiting for water for boil or something to cook on the stove. Use the time to burn calories. Do jumping jacks, squats or jump squats while you’re waiting. Yes, you’ll feel stupid, but you’ll get the last laugh when you’re in better shape. P.S. I do this all the time and no longer feel stupid. You’ll get over it! Promise.
  • Skip the dishwasher and wash those plates, pots and pans by hand. Use vigorous arm action.
  • Did you know scrubbing floors burns 285 calories per hour? Need we say more?
  • Hold the trashcan in your hands and do 20 squats before taking it outside.
  • When you’re washing dishes, do back leg raises to tone and firm your glutes.
  • Microwaving something? While you wait, see how many squats you can do.
  • Don’t forget that EVERY little bit of activity counts towards better health.

The Bottom Line?

Indoor workouts don’t have to be boring. Break free from the elliptical machine and treadmill and try something new. The most important thing is to stay active during the winter so you’ll be in shape and in good health when spring arrives. It’s not so far away!

Kristie Leong M.D.

Dr. Kristie Leong and Dr. Apollo Leong are physicians helping you to lead a healthy lifestyle by sharing nutrition and fitness tips and keeping you abreast of the latest health news.

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