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!

Super Fun Fitness Classes in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

It’s so great to be back in Brooklyn, and I’m looking forward to teaching in Cobble Hill every Tuesday in April. Classes are from 7-8pm at Artscetera, 212 Smith St. between Baltic & Butler. These classes will teach you how to juggle for brain and body fitness. JuggleFit Classes in Brooklyn

Each class is for beginners, and there will be plenty of laughs, learning and fun. And don’t worry, it’s okay to drop the ball! But you’ll actually be learning first with juggling scarves, kind of like juggling in ‘slow-motion.’ It makes things much easier than starting with balls.

I’ll also fill you in on all the surprising benefits of juggling – like how it burns up to 280 calories an hour and is awesome for your brain.

All equipment is provided – just come on over and have some fun getting fit. Cost is $10 per person and you can register here. See you there!

Visit JuggleFit.com for a list of all upcoming JuggleFit classes & events.

I Think I Can Finally Juggle Five Balls!

I did several posts a while back about my journey to juggling five, and I’m happy to say I think I’ve finally got it. You can judge for yourself from the video. I know I have a long way to go and need to get many more throws!

I found the following things to be the most helpful in learning (in order of importance):

  1. Make sure all of your throws are of a consistent height. Little did I know I was 99% there a long time ago, but my throws were getting a bit lower after about the third throw. I didn’t realize what a big hindrance this was until I experimented with throwing them as high or higher instead. It worked like magic. I was able to continue if the throws were higher than the rest, but it was extremely difficult and eventually fell apart if I threw them even a bit lower.
  2. Practice at least five days a week. Even if it seems like you will never get there, keep practicing and you will get it! I think it took me about a year. However, do take a week off if you have not made progress in a few weeks to reset and come back fresh.
  3. Throw almost straight up, with the slightest angle. At first, I experienced a lot of collisions doing this, but I was soon able to move the pattern out just a bit. I found this way easier than having to move in closer from juggling to wide. Probably because juggling wide looked good for a few throws and felt “safer.” Working through the collisions of a tighter pattern really paid off for me.
  4. Hold the juggling balls with a light grip. I found that gripping onto the juggling balls too tight affected the smoothness of my throws. Barely gripping at all, and just “elevating” or hoisting the balls, especially on the first throw, seemed to work well.

Hope these tips help you in some way on your journey to learning to juggle five balls. And if you think you’ve “almost got it”, take a video of yourself and you might discover that you actually do!

5 Ways Juggling Can Improve Your Relationship

While I usually discuss the physical benefits of juggling and how it’s a great form of fitness, I’ve discovered many other positive effects it can have. One of these is that juggling is a great way to bond with family and friends, and on Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d write about why juggling is a great activity for couples.

1. Laughter. We all know that laughter is important in a romantic relationship. Unfortunately, some couples have not laughed together in a long time, and it can be tough to break that ice that has formed. Juggling has an excellent chance of breaking it. Not only does it always elicit smiles and laughter, it breaks down walls by bringing couples down to a level playing field where they are both dropping balls and working things out. It’s a great analogy for problems in a marriage or any relationship. When a couple learns to juggle together, it helps them to not take life too seriously, and gives an example for building something up with a light heart.

2. New & Exciting Activity. A recent study by the State University of New York showed couples that engaged in a new and exciting activity for 2 hours a week experienced greater marital satisfaction. When people learn to juggle, they always get excited because it’s often perceived as something reserved for highly skilled performers. So learning as a couple provides excitement, memories, and a shared hobby you will have for life.

3. Exercise. Studies have shown that couples who exercise together have more sex and enjoy it more than those who do not. Keeping in shape helps people stay and feel physically attractive, and it also enables couples to motivate each other in workouts which strengthens the bond between them. Exercise has also been shown to reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction in men; a study by the Boston University School of Medicine showed burning 200 calories a day had this effect in sedentary men. Juggling is a cardio activity that burns 280 calories an hour, and it can be done almost anywhere with minimal equipment, so it’s the perfect exercise for busy couples.

4. Accomplishment. In relationships, it’s important to have individual goals as well as common goals. Individual goals help to prevent co-dependence and boost self-confidence. A healthy dose of independence and self-confidence is what many people find attractive, so improving on these could make you increasingly attractive to your mate and vice-versa. Common goals are also important, as they bond you together as a couple and give you something to work towards together. While learning to juggle might not be the most “serious” goal, it can certainly provide a sense of accomplishment for you as an individual and as a couple. Saying something as simple as “honey, let’s learn to juggle together” or “let’s get 20 throws without stopping” will set a goal that you can accomplish together. After having taught so many to juggle, I can tell you that when people learn, they really feel a sense of accomplishment. I think it’s because many of them thought they would never be able to do it. (It’s my job to make sure they can!)

5. Good Mood Generator. We all experience bad moods or have rough days from time to time. And sometimes it’s all too easy to take it out on your spouse or significant other. So what if you could generate a good mood before he or she got home? Juggling really does lift the mood for many reasons, but the most surprising way is that, when you learn to juggle (or learn a new juggling move or pattern), it’s almost impossible to think of anything else. So this has the effect of clearing the mind, relieving stress, and lightening the load of things that may be weighing you down.

Learn to juggle for free with the video below. If you don’t have juggling balls, try small oranges. Just don’t try it with sharp, hard, heavy, or dangerous objects!

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Juggling!

Learning Five & Getting It!

So it wasn’t a fluke the other day that I was doing a lot better at juggling five balls than I was last year.  I’ve been practicing every day and it’s feeling relaxed, comfortable and easier than ever before. It’s so crazy how much slower and more controlled it feels, but I’m sure that’s the way it was when learning three.

I’m excited that I can use this experience to relate even better to my juggling students and assure them that the initial chaos of learning to juggle will subside! Sometimes in my classes I attempt five so they can see me struggle; it helps them realize that learning to juggle is difficult for everyone at first. And just because my 3-ball juggling looks automatic doesn’t mean I wasn’t where they are at one point. I think it actually took me a lot longer than many of my students to get it.

Focusing on “launching” and following through on each throw is really helping me. I had a tendency to throw lower or possibly hesitate on later throws for fear of throwing too high and losing control of the pattern. Each fearless high throw proves to be a success and lessens my fear of “launching” every throw.

So at this point, it seems to be a mental game. In order to get more throws and catches, I need to do what I tell my students – accept that I know how to juggle (five balls) and press on. If I can get 13 throws and catches cleanly, there is no reason I can’t get 20, 50, etc.

I’m thinking the book The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey might help me at this point. It emphasizes the importance of mental approach when learning tennis or any sport, and I’ve heard great things about it. If anyone has used this book to improve their juggling, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Revisiting Learning to Juggle Five

It’s a new year and my shoulder has been feeling fine, so I figure it’s a great time to continue learning to juggle five balls. If you are interested in my journey up to this point, you can check out my older posts at this blog.

I’ve been testing the waters the past few days, picking up five balls at various times. I have not regressed as much as I had thought, and it seems my break from it might have changed my perspective.

A big breakthrough came this morning, after I watched an Ignite talk by Jonathan Kahn entitled “Stop Killing Your Best Work.” Inspired my Kahn’s message that one needs to push ahead and “ship”, I picked up the juggling balls to see if I could attempt to deliver. I started by flashing five without a hitch several times in a row. My throws were higher than they were when I used to practice before, but it felt right. I continued past the flash and was shocked that I executed 9 perfect throws and catches. As I continued, I consistently got 7 – 9 catches each time. All I was concentrating on was getting the throws high and consistent!

Was I making the whole thing too difficult before? Maybe. There are plenty of people that can juggle five, so there’s no reason I can’t get there. It’s possible my strict practice requirements were making this a huge mountain to climb. This is not to say that being able to juggle five is not a major accomplishment, I’m just trying to find the right attitude/mental state to get there. So this year, I’ll ditch the practice rules and requirements and simply try to pick up the balls at least once a day.

Here’s to getting more catches with five balls in 2011!

How Juggling Can Help You Quit Smoking

Many smokers report that one of the toughest obstacles in kicking the habit is getting used to not holding a cigarette. The absence of something in the hand seems to create a restlessness that amplifies the temptation to light up. While several alternatives for keeping the hands busy, such as walking the dog or doing Sudoku, are well known, another little-known option is juggling.

While my primary goal in teaching juggling is to get people excited about fitness, I never dreamed it could actually help someone quit smoking. So I was thrilled to hear smokers I have taught tell me it has helped them beat their cigarette cravings and, in some cases, even quit smoking.

I’ll never forget when one of my students called me up and said he had an idea that might seem crazy, but he wanted to see what I thought. He suggested that I might want to offer my DVDs and classes to smokers, because he believed learning to juggle is what enabled him to quit within two weeks (he learned from one of my DVDs). He had no idea that others had mentioned this to me before. I told him he was definitely not crazy, and thanked him for the feedback. He had been smoking for over ten years, and without even intending to quit, learning to juggle did the trick for him.

Although I have never smoked myself, I can see how juggling might help kick the habit:

  • Juggling keeps the hands occupied, and it’s easy to grab juggling balls or oranges when the craving for a cigarette strikes.
  • When learning to juggle it’s difficult to think of anything else, including a desire to smoke. Many students who smoke tell me how they went home after class, juggled all night and later realized that, much to their surprise, hours had passed and they hadn’t had a cigarette. They are so focused and absorbed in it that they forget about the urge to smoke. Their focus is directed away from cigarette cravings to to the goal of learning to juggle.
  • There is an addictive nature to juggling; usually when my classes come to a close, most of the people continue to juggle and simply do not want to stop.

As addictive as it might be, juggling is a much healthier habit than smoking. It’s an aerobic workout that burns as many calories as walking and even exercises the brain. According to a study published in the online open-access journal PLoS One, juggling actually increased gray matter in the brain in one week. And the fact that juggling burns 280 calories an hour means it will also help combat the weight gain that many experience when trying to quit.

To make it easier to fight cravings, it’s important to keep your juggling balls, scarves, or even small oranges in plain sight. This way, when the temptation to smoke strikes, you can quickly grab the oranges or balls and start juggling. I would imagine that even the few seconds it might take to find something to juggle might enable the craving to take over.

So if you smoke, next time you have three oranges handy, check out my demo on how to juggle with three balls and give it a try. I hope juggling helps you cut down and eventually quit smoking!