Juggling: the handy art of not dropping the ball

Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:07am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Juggling needn't be just for medieval court jesters, street performers and circus clowns.

The ancient skill of keeping two or more objects aloft by alternately tossing and catching them can boost your hand-eye coordination, improve your alignment, and even pump up your heart. Your perseverance, patience and focus will also get workouts.

"Most jugglers don't to it expressly for fitness," said Rod Kimball, who teaches juggling classes in New York City. "They do it for fun."

Kimball said juggling as exercise can be as versatile, and as demanding, as the juggler.

"Juggling three clubs with under-the-leg throws is far more strenuous than running, whereas a basic three-ball pattern takes about as much energy as doing dishes," Kimball, a member of The Flying Karamazov Brothers juggling troupe, added in an interview.

"For an aerobic workout, you can do high throws and spinning pirouettes. To weight train, I juggle a set of five 13-ounce balls."

Juggling also involves body work. Kimball's students adopt a stand as precise as any yoga pose -- weight back slightly on heels, elbows edged in front of torso -- before even attempting to toss (let alone to catch) anything.

"Asymmetry in the body means asymmetry in juggling," he explained.   Continued...

<p>Perry Romanowsky juggles as he jogs at Lakefront 50/50 race in Chicago, Illinois in this October 25, 2007 handout picture. REUTERS/Paul Romanowsk/Handout</p>