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

 

 

Advertisements

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

Beginning Juggling: Juggle Without Walking

It’s common to walk forward when first learning to juggle, especially with balls. I did it, most people I teach do it, and you may be doing it. If you’re not, then congratulations, you are definitely a step ahead of the game!

So why do people walk when learning juggling? There’s a tendency to throw out in front rather than across our body, maybe because of an instinct to protect ourselves from being hit by the ball. When we throw out, of course we walk forward to catch, it the only natural thing to do!

As long as you juggle with beanbag-type balls (or scarves), it’s okay if the ball actually comes at you. So go ahead and aim at your opposite shoulder – this will counteract the tendency to throw out.

Here are some more tips for juggling without walking forward:

  1. Keep your feet planted. Pretend you are a tree trunk, solid and stable. Do not allow your feet to move. If you throw a ball out of reach, don’t step anywhere to catch it. Since now there is no way you can catch a ball that is too far out, your mind and body will react by throwing closer. Basically, you don’t want to reinforce a a habit that is preventing you from juggling, whether it’s throwing forward, catching overhand, etc.
  2. Practice facing a wall, preferably one with a solid color. Stand about 2 feet from a wall and juggle. You’ll probably notice some of your throws hit the wall. Keep practicing and focus on preventing the balls from hitting the wall by throwing across your body. If you need to go back to two balls, do that against the wall and get it solid before moving on to three.
  3. Position your wrists slightly up and in toward your body. This will encourage throws that are aimed closer to your body rather than too far out in front of you.

Try these methods one at a time. So you might start by keeping your feet planted, and when you can do that without thinking about it, then move onto facing a wall. The order doesn’t matter, but you want to internalize each step before moving onto another one.

You might not even need to try all of these things – just one may stop your throws from going out. And you’ll be juggling without walking!

Have fun and happy juggling!

~Heather

Juggling at Family Gatherings!

I just love some of the emails I’ve been getting from students about how they’re including juggling in their family gatherings:

“I showed 4 generations of family how to juggle scarves while I was celebrating an 80th birthday!”

“We brought our scarves and balls to our Father’s Day events yesterday.  We performed and taught family members and had so much fun in the process!”

There’s something about juggling that makes you want to share it. It’s exhilarating and generates positive energy and good moods. Also, once people learn and realize that it’s not extremely difficult, it makes them want to share it with people that might think otherwise. They look forward to how surprised and excited someone will get once they can juggle. (That’s why I teach it too!)

Other reasons juggling is awesome to include in family events:

  • It creates an excitement that’s contagious, and fills any room with laughter.
  • It’s an opportunity for kids to share with their grandparents, or vice versa. This is definitely a bonding experience – and you never forget who taught you how to juggle!
  • It’s not too intense so family members of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy it, even sitting down.

So next time you head out to a family gathering, bring along those juggling scarves and balls. An opportunity might strike to liven up the party with some juggling!

I’d love to hear about juggling at your family gatherings, so feel free to share them in the comments.

Note: If you’d like a photo of your family juggling to be considered for inclusion in a future blog post or on the JuggleFit site, email them to familyphotos@jugglefit.com.

S-t-r-e-t-c-h to Stay Young

So I met this amazing lady at a health and fitness expo recently. Her son had a booth near mine, and she was hanging out and adding an unbelievable energy and vibe to the area. Her grandkids convinced her to come learn to juggle, so I taught her and she of course rocked it. I would guess she was about 80 years young. I asked her how she stayed in such great shape and kept up her energy levels, and she had a very simple answer: “I stretch every morning.”

Lion Stretching

Take a cue from this lion – keep flexible throughout your life with stretching!

Now I know that sounds way too easy, but it’s actually not. Finding time to stretch every morning can be challenging. But it’s so worth it! Here’s a quick test that will show you why (if you don’t stretch often):

  • Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you.
  • You know what comes next – slowly edge your arms forward to touch your toes.

Does this seem tough? Well just imagine how much tougher it will be if you don’t do this again for 5, 10, or 15 more years! Ouch! Yes, our flexibility will decrease – we’ll lose it if we don’t use it.

Begin with just 5 minutes in the morning and work up to 10 or 15. Give your lower body priority – it takes a pounding with constant walking (and sitting!). Here are a few moves to get you started:

Lower Body

  • That awesome lady I mentioned emphasized this one: Lay on your back and pull your right knee up towards your chest. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs.
  • Sit with legs slightly out to the sides in a V and in full contact with the floor. Keeping your back straight (don’t hunch your shoulders over), place your hands on the floor in front of you and edge them forward until you feel a nice stretch in your inner thighs and hamstrings. Hold for 20 seconds. Aaaah!
  • Sit on floor with your legs together and straight out in front of you (just like in our test above). Engage your abs to help you sit up straight. Point your toes and hold for 5 seconds. Then bring toes back up and flex your feet – hold for five seconds (or more – you can tell this is doing a lot of good!). Keep alternating pointing and flexing for a minute or so.

Upper Body

  • Place your hands behind your back and hold them together. Keep your shoulders back and not hunched forward. Tilt your head back as your slowly raise your arms just a a bit to open up and stretch your chest muscles. It’s not about how high you raise your arms – as long as you feel a light stretch in your chest, you’re doing great!
  • While standing or sitting upright, grab onto an imaginary ‘rope’ above you. Place one hand on top of the other as your ‘climb’ the rope, feeling a nice stretch in your triceps and upper back. Use your abs to keep your trunk steady as you climb.
  • While sitting upright, hold your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor. Round your shoulders as you suck in your abs and push your hands out in front of you (clasp them together if you like), stretching your upper back muscles. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat.

Keep in mind your morning stretches should be gentle and only slightly past the point of feeling the stretch – keep it safe. More intense stretching should be reserved for after a warmup or post-workout. The point here is to get your blood moving and lubricate your joints before you start your day.

There are so many awesome stretches you can do, so pick and choose you favorites and switch it up occasionally. And remember the words of the lady in her 80s bouncing around with the most energy in the room:

“I stretch every morning.”