Juggle your way to fitness.

Subtitle: After my NIA experience I decided to give another entirely random workout approach a shot.


I’d love to say this topic choice stemmed wholly from a quirky desire to seek alternative fitness— but that would be a lie.

Inspiration came from a much more mundane place.

As I lamented to these women my inability to juggle work-commitments/MizFit/mamahood at all with ease a topic was born.

Perhaps, I mused, if I literally juggled I might conquer my figurative ball tossage as well.

I was uncertain if juggling fell under the umbrella of exercise but confident, given my below average coordination, there’d be calorie burning laughs regardless.

And sometimes the mere promise of LAUGHTER is enough to get me to try anything. ONCE.

Juggling has been around far longer than the Ringling Brothers clowns we now associate it with.  It was practiced in ancient Egypt and Rome and popular in Europe throughout the Middle Ages.

Yes it’s mildly interesting juggling provided entertainment for ancient kings, but even with the economy in the crapper freelance opportunities drying up I was confident I’d never be employed as a court jester.

I wanted to know what physiological benefits I might expect if I succeeded in teaching my clumsy self to juggle.

As it turned out jesters were on to something and juggling for sport had much to offer.

(**cue relief as I had zero other post ideas languishing in my head**)

Juggling increases coordination, balance and reflexes. According to skilled jugglers, prop tossing will improve my hand eye coordination and I shouldn’t shy away because I’m aware of my deficiency.  Better balance and quickening of reflexes are also by products of mastering basic jugging stances and skills.

(Yeah, I  noticed the word MASTERING in there as well.)

Juggling increases range of motion in arms and shoulders. In order to keep props in the air jugglers need to employ muscles and body mechanics rarely engaged in normal activities.  As a result, one must contort in order to juggle smoothly.   When one is able to master this contortionary tactic the arms and shoulder joints are in constant use, remain lubricated, and show less age-related creakiness.

Juggling is a workout for all ages and body types.

Juggling for fitness is ideal because it’s a no-impact workout. Tossing objects in the air burns up to two hundred and eighty calories per hour, same as walking, yet can be done seated.  This makes juggling a fit for seniors, people with physical limitations & those who are returning to exercise after a hiatus.

Juggling is an excellent stress reliever. This six word sentence was the proverbial music to my frazzled  ears.  Jugglers must be fully present and focused solely on the activity at hand. No matter if it’s a two minute work break or an extended routine one returns to other tasks with renewed mental clarity and calm.
Juggling makes the brain bigger. A study published in Nature magazine showed learning to juggle triggers growth in the brain’s visual and motor activity sectors. Juggling may also prevent the onset of Alzheimers.  Its forced use of problem solving skills (you can’t just toss the balls and hope you catch them.  take my word for it.) is thought to stimulate oft neglected parts of the aging brain.

Juggling is portable, free, fun &  terrific Tornado entertainment. This final piece sold me on juggling.  I loved the idea of always having my workout with me and growing my gray matter /destressing at a moment’s notice!  The mere thought of a balance-improving, ball tossing session in the restroom before doing a presentation for work was *already* enough to make me laugh.

Armed with my new found knowledge of juggling’s benefits I was ready to get tossing.

I grabbed a tennis ball, deemed it my prop, and threw it from hand to hand.

Clarification: nowhere in my reading did an expert juggler suggest starting with one prop.  All beginner tips led off with two props in hand.  I, however, knew I needed to begin with the very basics and urge you to do so, too.

If you’re not me it shall serve as a self- esteem boost and, if you’re my brother or sister in lack of coordination, it’s crucial to perfect the basic toss before adding props.

This basic toss is as uncomplicated as lofting the ball from left to right.  I quickly discovered, however, it’s not easy to ensure the ball lands in the same place each time.  It took me lots of practicing (and chasing) to get even this ‘simple’ part to become second nature.


Once I mastered that skill I was ready to add in an additional prop and truly commence juggling.

I swapped my tennis ball for rolled up socks (being determined to learn to juggle with as little domicile destruction as possible), the Tornado shouted GO!! & off I went.

Juggling two props was simple. If by simple you mean easy to explain and quite a challenge to learn which I do.

All that was required was I toss prop two up as the first prop starts to reach its peak (the highest point before descending) and repeat. and REPEAT.

Easy, right?

Yeah, I didnt think so either.

The biggest shock in adding prop number two wasn’t so much the challenge—–it was the fact I didn’t grow frustrated.

As a woman who’s come thisclose to snapping a golf club in half, I’d assumed I’d find juggling exasperating as well.  I didn’t.

The few times I kept my props aloft the feeling of accomplishment was beyond compare.

In addition, the zen-like focus required to get to that place rivaled my brief foray into meditation. My juggling was awkward and stilted at best, yet I laughed and viewed each dropped prop as a chance to burn calories as I chased an errant sock.

The answer to the question I know is coming? No.

I haven’t, at this time, graduated to juggling three props (or am anywhere near needing these) and plan to stick with my new avocation until I do.

With regards to three props, word on the juggling street is the more height a toss is given the more time there is to determine where it’ll land and catch it.

I’ll let you know if it really is as simple (please see definition above) as all that.



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  1. says

    Looks like fun! I’ve been thinking lately about the stilts we had when I was a kid and wondering if they still sell them. That was a good workout too, for many of the same reasons. :)

  2. Tara says

    You are NUTS—-in a good way.

    I actually think I’d like to try this for most of the reasons you state and mainly the laughter (and the portability. Can you see me juggling in my CUBE?).

  3. Nan says

    I know you are slightly kidding here yet I’m now wondering if this might be good exercise for my chairbound mom.

    Thanks for the tips.

  4. says

    What, you didn’t start off with eggs, bowling balls, and knives? Where’s the challenge, woman?


    That was adorable. I spent an hour or so one afternoon trying to learn to juggle once, and oddly enough, didn’t get very far. Decided I didn’t want to learn to juggle all that badly after all… at least not enough to go chasing down those tennis balls.

    Good luck with your new talent; see ya at the circus!

  5. Savannah says

    I’ve always wanted to know how to juggle.
    I fancy myself whipping out objects at a party and impressing friends and family.

    I’ve never tried to learn to juggle :)

    You are hilarious with the whistling.

  6. says

    Haha, awesome! The most I can juggle is three. I’ve tried to do four but my hands can’t move fast enough. I’ll have to post up a video. The great blogging juggle-off!

  7. dragonmamma/naomi w. says

    I expect a vid in a month showing you juggling a watermelon, a banana, and a chainsaw.

    I’m still working on keeping my tongue in my mouth as I concentrate.

  8. Mikela says

    I’ve had juggling balls at my office for years and would often take juggling breaks. I moved my office… Where are those balls? I’ll be scouring the place today to find them. I’d forgotten, till I read your post, what a great stress reliever it is to take a juggling break. Thanks!

    P.s. Sister readers as you get better at juggling you can invest in weighted juggling balls for an even more challenging workout.

  9. Miz says

    I laugh at myself (if you mean by that Ren Man is totally laughing at me—–which I do) that I’m entirely bound & determined to master this!

    From kids parties to the Jewish Home for the Aged (you know, 50 years from now…) I think it shall serveth me well!

    (Tricia? Your comment made me grin. You get me.)

  10. says

    Wow, you are braver than me! I guess I can get into a squat position & work my legs & glutes too! As for me, if I use balls, I would get a ton of cardio & a workout chasing after all the balls I dropped & squatting down to pick them up too! :-)

    PS: On your comment to my post, I am 52 in November & I tried those bench hops.. no leaving them to the younger kids. I must prove I can do it too! BUT, I was scared I was going to hit the bench on the way over & fall! :-) I did not! They are hard though!

  11. says

    I am impressed! I cannot juggle all my responsibilities, let alone socks! :)

    MRI completed – now the waiting game begins. T’will be at least a week before we hear anything.

  12. Ann says

    Very persuasive post – I want to try this again! When I was younger I tried with scarves (supposed to be v-e-r-y easy) and could never get it. I love things that are completely absorbing. Thanks for the fun post!

  13. says

    That was great! Really enjoyed reading and kinda want to try it, though clutz that I am, I don’t know that I’d make much progress…Sounds fun though!

  14. says

    Given I’ve got the coordination of a three-toed sloth I don’t think juggling is right for me. But I love the way you’re always in there pitching, Miz!

  15. says

    Holy cow. I can barely walk in a straight line today, let alone juggle.
    Perhaps I’ll save that for a day when I’m feeling a tad more awake. zzzzzzz.
    Entertaining though!

  16. says

    I’m uncoordinated, but have found I can’t juggle…but I can spin poi. It jsut takes practice practice for things to fit into muscle memory…like the whole wax on wax off thing.

    My husband can juglle very well – he’s got very high hand eye coordination…whether he had it before the whole juggling thing or it is a result of it, I don’t know. It does give you nice strong arms and shoulders tho…mmm…

  17. says

    My husband actually has a juggling book, and he tried to teach me, but I wasn’t terribly successful. It was, however, quite amusing.

  18. says

    Oh – hubs had a tip for learning juggling. He said to juggle facing a wall…it keeps your balance in check and if the balls get away from you they’re easier to get back…

  19. says

    You are a funny girl. If someone asked me to guess what topic Miz would discuss today, I could have made a million guesses, and juggling would not have been one of them!

  20. Miz says

    *Spins to face the wall*

    Nope 😉
    Still suck.

    For now anyway.

    Speaking of BIG BALLS:

    Wipeout anyone? 😉

  21. josha says

    You hit the nail on the head as to why I started jumping rope! I bought a video and began learning tricks. All for a great workout of play that my kids could love. I’m feeling a jump rope workout coming on!! (trampolines also offer the same workout opportunities, with the exception of portability) Add the above stiltz and pogo stick and we’ve got an act for the community talent show!! haha

  22. says

    Who knew that juggling had so many benefits? Guess I’m going to have to have the hubs teach me how to juggle, because really, who doesn’t want a bigger brain?! :)

  23. says

    Yeah, they taught jugglin one evening on a cruise I took- we all used socks. Good beginning equipment. I have yet to master that anywhere-near-predictable toss that is crucial for juggling. (or I am stuck on perfecting the one ball toss).

    LOVE the idea of learning to juggle as a way to learn to juggle life. Let me know how that works.

  24. says

    What, no fire sticks?

    I’d forgotten all about this. I used to be able to juggle 3 objects badly, but I haven’t done it in years. Wonder if I still could?

  25. says

    I have a friend who can juggle very well. She’s kind uncoordinated, so I figured it had to be pretty easy. I’ve never been so wrong!! I mastered the “two sock” method, but never graduated. Wonder if there is a GED equivalent for juggling more than two objects.

  26. says

    My husband can juggle; it’s one of those endearing hidden talents of his. Entertains the kids, too. I’m glad he sticks to juggling balls and not flaming objects, knives, or chainsaws.

    Me? I’d love to be able to do it, but like many things I’d love to be able to do, I haven’t focused on it enough to master.

  27. says

    Whoops, clicked “Submit” before adding that I love this post! Great observation, too, about needing to be present when practicing juggling; it’s true.

  28. says

    You kill me!!!

    I’m almost falling off my chair from giggling. That was fantastic. I’m pretty sure those two videos just made my day!

    Umm also the whistling while juggling, now that’s a feat in itself my dear.

  29. says

    ha ha! Love it. I used to be able to juggle. It was one of the things I taught myself when I was a latch key kid! Sometimes I try to do it and it’s a total disaster. Juggling it not like riding a bike!

  30. says

    Does this mean you’ll be training for joggling during part of the Austin Marathon?

    Love this post. Reminds me that “Learn to juggle” is on my lifelong to do list. The socks instead of tennis balls or oranges is a great idea for the truly uncoordinated… by which I mean me. (If using white socks though, I’ll need to wait until after the sidewalk rash from Sunday heals a bit more.)

  31. says

    You are turning into some one-woman act MzFit! Juggling! I feel like I’m doing that everyday and not succeeding so much. Siiiigh. I just keep running out of time.

  32. says

    Oh that is too funny! I have extremely poor hand-ball coordination, so the only value juggling would have for me is bending 100’s of times to pick up the darn things!

  33. says

    I just had to comment and say you rock. That is all.

    Ok, maybe just have to comment that it totally reminded me of jumping to conclusions from office space because of the whole literal interpretation of a metaphor, but in a much less neck-braced nerdy office geek and much more awesome sort of way. :)

  34. says

    I love being able to juggle! My son taught me after he had a motivation speaker at his school. It really is quite easy to pick up once you are shown how.

    You get a lot of exercise chasing balls when you are learning though!

  35. CSFit says

    Juggling (and learning to juggle) is a workout! What I love is that you can do it when you have a few extra minutes (like when waiting for the water to boil!)

    There’s a company called JuggleFit that sells DVDs on how to juggle. The DVDs have easy instructions and drills, plus workouts that incorporate juggling. Here is their info on the benefits of juggling:



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