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.
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.
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.