Why Juggling is an Amazing Team Building Activity

I’ve been leading a lot of team building and staff activity events here in New York City lately, and it’s always such a rush to see how juggling can transform a room. Especially when the activity is a surprise….oh my gosh, people look so scared at first. Are they going to make us do improv? Couldn’t they just have let us out of work early? I hope this isn’t worse than public speaking.

At surprise events, when everyone finds out they’ll be learning to juggle, they aren’t as fearful. Recent reactions include:

  • Everyone screaming & jumping up and down with excitement (a group of college RAs in training)
  • A sigh of relief (PR firm staff thinking they were going to have to do improv)
  • Laughter as they look at their colleagues and hint at getting ready for some fun competition (professional service associates)

Now don’t get me wrong – there is still a bit of skepticism in the air at this point. So my job, of course, it to make sure everyone learns to juggle. Some people think they’ll be able to do it, others don’t. After having taught thousands, I’m fortunate to have learned some easy ways to correct common obstacles. As I go around the room, I see someone having a bit of trouble. I can tell in their mind they think this is an insurmountable obstacle. When I give them a quick fix, they are shocked at how quickly and easily the “problem” is solved.

Nothing is impossible, even learning to juggle.

Breaking things into simple steps and having a good mentor
can help you achieve your goals and grow.

There are plenty of stories of nightmarish team building events, where people have to share their deepest fears or cry together. Those types of activities do have their place, as it’s very important to get people out of their comfort zones to grow. The great thing about juggling is that, while it does get people out of their comfort zones, the result arrives quickly in the form of laughter, energy and inspiration.

Learning to juggle
brings people out of their comfort zone momentarily…
and then they are relieved and laughing with their colleagues.

From the event planner or human resource manager’s perspective, another concern with team building events is the return on investment and its lasting effects. Assuming everyone learns how to juggle (which they will in a JuggleFit workshop), do you think anyone would ever forget that? Of course not. But how does that improve their team morale, work life and ethic, and personal life? It makes them feel great. It inspires them. It stimulates their creativity and problem solving. It provides light exercise which benefits them in all of those areas. Apart from that, it’s just so incredibly fun…

Learning to juggle is not something people forget about –
it has a lasting effect.

People will…
Keep talking about it.
Show off at office parties (juggling lime wedges).
Teach co-workers and family.
…and it will make them feel great mentally and physically.

The default theme for JuggleFit team building workshops is health & fitness (this can of course be customized). The session is threaded with tidbits on how juggling is great for brain and body. I’m a big fan of finding ways to energize and beat stress during work, long periods of sitting, etc., so I love sharing how juggling can help with these things.

If you’re in New York City (or beyond) and are interested in a juggling workshop for your staff training, team building activity, corporate party or event, drop me a line sometime. If you’d like a test drive, I’d love to have you attend one of our public classes to see how juggling transforms the room. I know you’ll be convinced that juggling is an awesome choice for a team building activity!

~Heather

World Juggling Day “NYC Tour”: June 14, 2014

Our goal for this year’s World Juggling Day was (of course) to…

share juggling with as many people as we possibly could!

I was joined by one of our awesome JuggleFit advisors, Jen Slaw. In addition to being an amazing juggler, Jen is the Executive Director of Juggling Life, a charity inspiring disadvantaged youth through juggling. Check out her happiness project, a must-watch video called Happy Huggling.

We hit the streets of NYC handing out free juggling kits, which included a set of juggling scarves with instructions and even a handy little practice card to track progress.

Early in the day, we made a stop at Athleta on 5th Avenue to teach a beginner juggling class.

These people rock!

Juggling Class at Athleta New York City

 

We had fun meeting many tourists in Times Square. Some hesitated to grab juggling kits…”Free?” they said. They were so grateful and you could hear many “thank yous” ringing out in the heart of Times Square. I hope many of them are juggling at home at this very moment!

JuggleFit Times Square NYC
IMG_4748

 

To end the “NYC Tour,” Jen and I juggled across the Brooklyn Bridge and handed out more juggling kits along the way.

Heather Wolf and Jen Slaw Juggling on Brooklyn Bridge

 

We had a great time sharing juggling and generating many big smiles. It was a very Happy World Juggling Day!

By the way, if you don’t know how to juggle…we want to teach you!

Learning resources for you:

Happy Juggling!

~Heather

 

 

Dropping the ball: How not to look like an idiot

Dropping the ball when practicing juggling….there’s nothing wrong with it.Juggling Ball over Manhattan
It’s how you learn and get better.

Has anyone ever learned to juggle without dropping a ball? Nope.

When dropping, it’s tempting to rush around to pick up the balls in a frenzy. But that hinders progress. It also doesn’t look very cool (which is why some people don’t even want to attempt to learn to juggle!).

Preventing this frenzied reaction is a easy with some simple steps:

  • Don’t let yourself get overly frustrated with drops. Frustration can add stress and hinder progress. You’ll get better faster in a relaxed state.
  • View each drop as an opportunity to learn and get better. When you drop a ball(s), wait at least 5-10 seconds before attempting the move or pattern again. Think about why that ball missed your hand, and what you can do to prevent it in the future.
  • Integrate some stretching and/or strength moves into your juggling practice. When you drop, take that opportunity to do a nice chest stretch or a few push-ups or dips. Then back to juggling.

By following these simple steps, not only will you get better faster – you will also look much cooler when you drop the ball.

Happy Juggling!

~Heather

 

 

 

 

Why I Love My Job

I admit I don’t have the most “normal” job – teaching people to juggle. But I can still say I love my job. Why? I could go on for hours about it, but here are a few of the main reasons:

  1. It makes people laugh and smile while doing something healthy.
  2. No matter how many people I teach, that moment when someone learns and juggles for the first time leaves me (and them!) ecstatic. Each class is full of these mini-celebrations with my students and the rest of the class.
  3. I get to pass along a skill that could potentially have a positive impact on people’s lives. I’ve heard stories from many students about how juggling has helped them. From the man who told me his blood sugar was down 20 points after class to another that told me he practiced all night and “forgot” to smoke, I never get enough of this awesome student feedback. The days that I receive emails with a stories like this are the days that I count as my best!

Here’s a photo from my juggling class last Saturday in New York City.

Juggling Class in New Yrok City with JuggleFit

Juggling Class in New York City with JuggleFit

If you don’t know how to juggle, I hope I get to teach you to someday! I’ve had many visitors to NYC make JuggleFit a part of their trip. You can always learn the basics with my video here. I’d love it if you’d keep me posted on your progress, either in the comments below or by emailing me at info(at)jugglefit(dot)com!

How Long Does It Take to Learn to Juggle?

I get asked this question all the time: “How long does it take to learn to juggle?”

It varies from person to person, but I know you want a definitive answer, right? After having taught thousands of people to juggle, my answer is:

With the right teacher, you can learn to juggle in 30 minutes or less.

Now this doesn’t mean you’ll be a pro after that time, but it’s possible to have the basic pattern down (called the 3-Ball Cascade) after 30 minutes of coaching and practice. And this applies to teenagers on up.

Then, just practice 20-30 minutes every day for a week or two, and you’ll be pretty good!

Here are some things you can do to learn more quickly:

  • Learn first with juggling scarves to understand the pattern in “slow-motion.”
  • Set a goal before practicing. It can be something like “Throw 5 times without dropping.”
  • Track your progress. Use the JuggleFit iPhone app or PDF log.

Want to learn to juggle in 30 minutes, guaranteed? Schedule a lesson with me over Skype, or if you live in NYC, come to one of my classes!

Want to juggle better? Teach a friend!

Whether you’re a beginner or have been juggling for years, a great way to improve is to teach someone else. Here’s why:

  • You have to dissect juggling into simple steps that can be explained clearly. This not only helps you internalize these steps, it also reinforces the simplicity of juggling and the fact that it’s not as difficult as it seems.
  • Those you teach will often ask questions that make you further analyze the juggling pattern and process, deepening your understanding.
  • It’s inspiring to watch someone start from scratch and then be able to juggle. They’ll be excited, and so will you. This will motivate you to practice and improve.
  • The more people you teach the more people you’ll have to practice with!

Roman philosopher Seneca put it simply:

“While we teach, we learn.” 

So grab those scarves, balls, or oranges and teach your friends and family to juggle. It will make them smile and you’ll be well on your way to juggling like a pro.

Need a refresher? Watch our how-to video.

Happy Juggling!
~Heather

Get Better by Juggling in Nature!

I taught a class at Hudson River Park last week for CourseHorse‘s Summer Sparks series. We were on the lawn with a nice view of the river, with ominous yet beautiful rain clouds looming in the

It's so relaxing to juggle outside...this otter actually fell asleep while juggling! Photo by jo-h on Flickr

It’s so relaxing to juggle outside…this otter actually fell asleep while juggling!
Photo by jo-h on Flickr

distance.

I really noticed how relaxed we all were, which propelled everyone’s progress quite a bit. After about 15 minutes of instruction, standing in the middle of this large circle of students, I looked around and saw nearly everyone practicing juggling balls with perfect timing, pattern and not even walking forward (which is usually very common). Wow! It was like everyone was progressing fast and at the same level – pretty rare.

How did this happen? Well, it could have been an incredibly coordinated group, but I also think it had something to do with the setting – out amongst nature. Grass, water, trees, birds flying above. Doesn’t that sound relaxing?

Since a major part of learning to juggle – as well as  learning new moves and patterns – is mental, it’s important to be in a relaxed state to make progress. Being in a natural environment is relaxing in itself, which makes the perfect setting for juggling practice!

I even found myself following a flying gull (with my eyes) while juggling…and I didn’t even drop.

So make use of your neighborhood parks, beaches and campgrounds as your practice space. You’ll be relaxed and have a productive practice session.

Happy Juggling!

~Heather