Tag Archives: New York

Weirdest joggling experiences of 2012

One of the best things about joggling is all the weird things that happen to you while you joggle, largely due to all the bizarre things people say to you as you pass by. It really is an exercise journey into the Bizarro World.

While most people who say anything say “that’s so cool!” or “that’s amazing!”, there’s a good number of jokers and weirdos out there who can’t resist making sarcastic comments. I’ve even received a few threats(“who the %$#^ you think you are!!”, “get the $%^& outa here!” type of threats) from some gang-banger types, but that was back when I would foolishly joggle through these run-down, crime-ridden areas.
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Anyhow, among the more amusing remarks from last year were from this old guy saying “you can only juggle 3? just 3? come on!”. I did manage to respond that I was working on 4, and asked if that was good enough, to which I think he said “great”(I was going too fast to say much of anything).

I’ve also received a bunch of “I wish I could do that”, as well as a few “I wish I was you!”. I often just respond, “thank you!” or “you can do it too, it just takes practice”.

By far the most bizarre was a few months ago when I had to slow down at this busy intersection, and this young woman I had never seen before comes up to me and tells me “I love you, I really really do”. I didn’t say anything because this was so totally unexpected, and I was trying to catch my breath and darted off as soon as I was able to cross the street. And she started shouting at me again, “I really do!”. Of course I don’t believe she does and this may be her own weird way of expressing admiration.

A few people around here really seem to get it. If I am going slow enough or taking a break, some people will praise me(I’ll tell them I don’t deserve the praise) and start a conversation about how juggling is good for the brain so juggling while running is such a great exercise. I will usually try to encourage them to do it too, but they will say it is impossible for them. Some claim it is impossible for them to juggle even while standing still. But it is just a matter of practice I will say, before parting ways.

Oh how could I forget the man who asked me as I joggled by – “can you chew gum while doing that?”.

How juggling is very different from other forms of exercise

I hope everyone is having a good year so far. I am slowly improving my juggling technique and want to share my impressions of the road to getting to advanced juggling and the benefits of juggling.

One of the worst things about juggling is it is very unforgiving of poor technique and effort. But this is also one of the best things about juggling. Not giving it your all means you are much more likely to drop the balls. You can’t fool yourself into thinking you are putting in more effort than you really are.

It is often too easy to fool yourself with other forms of exercise, while walking or even running, on certain exercises machines, or doing martial arts or dance aerobics, etc. In this way, jumping rope is similar to juggling in that you can’t get away with poor technique – the rope will eventually catch your leg if you do it wrong. This is one of the reasons I sometimes recommend jumping rope as a prerequisite to fitness juggling. The rope won’t lie to you. In juggling, the balls won’t lie to you either. A good juggling form is a thing of beauty, and in beauty there is truth.

This makes juggling balls one of the best, most accurate feedback mechanisms when it comes to fitness. They are an excellent teacher for so many different exercisers, even if juggling or joggling isn’t their main form of exercise. This would probably make joggling one of the best forms of cross-training for running – since joggling is less forgiving of bad posture than running, it would be a good idea to use your joggler’s posture while running, to ensure good form. Screenshot-MVI_0579.AVI-2

Good form and coordination requires you to pay attention, to use your brain. Juggling is one of the very few exercises outside of playing some sports that targets your brain. Studies even show brain growth in parts of the brain that control movement. Think of the brain like a muscle – use it or lose it. It would require a whole series of posts or even a dissertation to explain why juggling is so neglected in the fitness world, and how to overcome this.

Fabulous time joggling around Rockefeller Preserve

Lake at Rockefeller Preserve in winter

Lake at Rockefeller Preserve in winter

The Rockefeller Preserve in Sleepy Hollow, NY, has a lot to offer the nature lover or fitness buff all year round, so long as no idiot burns it down. Its 1,233-acres offers beautiful vistas, dense forests, diverse wildlife, and exotic dancers. The preserve’s many bird species will greet you with ethereal bird song as you walk, run or joggle along its many trails(and I was kidding about the exotic dancers, just wanted to make sure you were paying attention).

Lake at Rockefeller Preserve in summer

Lake at Rockefeller Preserve in summer

The Rockfefeller preserve used to belong to this very rich, powerful family, but I can’t remember their name at the moment. It’s an especially good place for joggling as there is virtually no vehicle traffic or roads in the park. I don’t let the cold, breezy air keep me indoors, so I had a delicious time there yesterday.

Some new video from yesterday – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK0V7834BM4

There are so many great views in this preserve, it’s hard to decide where to take photos.

I believe that joggling keeps me warmer than running due to having to move my arms a lot to juggle the balls. Keep in mind that you may have to do a lot of warm up exercises with your arms before you joggle or you will drop the balls a lot at first. Try to see if you can incorporate juggling into your fitness routine in the New Year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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Winter is officially here

Now that winter is officially here with all its challenges and positives, I keep thinking of the how different it was when I joggled during the summer and its own unique challenges.

I joggled many times around this lake during the summer. This photo was taken in the Rockefeller Preserve, Pocantico Hills, NY.

In a strange kind of way, I miss it, especially as the weather gets colder. It’s like I have forgotten the profuse sweating, the heat-induced muscle fatigue causing me to slow down or drop the balls, the countless insects biting me or flying into my face, and the sunscreen I had to rub over much of my body to prevent sunburn. Okay, maybe I haven’t forgotten, but I still achieved bliss on a good run. I remember joggling in the summer wishing it was the heaven that is winter.

And now sometimes I wish it was summer, or spring. How ironic. The middle of the winter means heavy clothing, shorter days, a running nose, the risk of frost-bite, kids throwing snow balls, and sometimes stiffer muscles. If there is snow or ice, winter joggling can be especially problematic – be not afraid of new challenges. And the local kids should know they can’t win in a snow ball fight with a joggler!

“When you long for a life without difficulties, remind yourself that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure” – Uknown

Although I have to adapt to the weather, all the rules for joggling are the same. For beginners, this is very important: Maintaining the proper rhythm and posture is everything. It is like music, making beautiful music, becoming one with the rhythm and one with the balls. You may hear the music, you may not. If a melody develops, literally run with it. Hum along if you want.

With all this emphasis on rhythm, and music perhaps it would be better for jogglers to forget about running and to think of themselves as dancers. Running simply takes you from point A to point B. But juggling adds a new magical dimension to the running; going from point A to point B^3.

It really doesn’t matter what kind of dancer-joggler you think of yourself as. If you prefer the grace of a ballerina, go with that. Or if you prefer hip-hop dance, go ahead. You don’t even necessarily have to do the 3 ball cascade pattern, although that is most efficient and easiest for beginners. Above all, be creative. You may surprise yourself and learn all sorts of new things about yourself through joggling. If it really does make us smarter, that isn’t such a surprise.

In the new year, whatever your fitness goals are, it helps to be as creative as possible, to think outside-the-box, to make it as fun as possible and to not care what anyone else thinks.

And for the record, I’ve decided to stop eating eggs, which makes me vegan yet again.

My visit to Whole Foods

Many health-conscious people simply can’t live without Whole Foods. Or rather, make that rich, health-conscious people. Even though I seldom ever shop there, it can be fun to look around, especially since much of the store is a wild carnival of vegan products. And gluten-free products. So it’s a great place to shop if you’re a vegan and/or have celiac disease. Or rather, I should say, rich vegans, and rich people with celiac disease.

The selection they have is simply amazing. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as sprouted almond butter until last night. Look at that price!

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And it’s not even organic, sprouted, raw, whole, gourmet almond butter. Don’t forget Fair Trade! It looks yummy alright, but I prefer my peanut butter and only the occasional unsprouted, poor man’s almond butter. To be honest, I’m not sure if the sprouting process does anything to improve the almond’s overall nutritional status, but it probably improves profit margins. I say this as someone who used to sprout nuts and seeds on a regular basis. I think they are best fresh and unprocessed, so homemade is best.

It seems sIMG_0530ome people may mistakenly believe if something is sold at Whole Foods, it’s gotta be healthy. Or healthier than what is sold at plebeian supermarkets. I don’t buy into this. It seems a large part of Whole Foods appeal is you can buy “healthy”, more expensive junk food there.

Calories are calories, organic or non-organic.

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Look at this section devoted to that healthiest of healthy ingredients – sugar. Of course, as we all know, if sugar is organic, or vegan, or fair-trade, it’s healthier than regular sugar. Or at least some people might want you to believe this. I can’t say I am one of them. As a vegetarian though, I can understand the point of vegan sugar, since bone-char is added to regular sugar as an anti-caking agent by some sugar manufacturers.
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When it comes to organics, I am ambivalent, though I believe we should minimize pesticide use as much as possible(both organic pesticides and conventional pesticides). I eat mostly conventional produce and food, I simply try to avoid the foods with the highest pesticide(like strawberries or peaches) content or I wash them thoroughly. It’s also best to eat locally grown when possible, organic or not.

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The part of Whole Foods that has some of the truly healthiest and most reasonably priced items is the bulk grains/seeds/nuts section.

IMG_0533Although I see better prices elsewhere, this isn’t too crazy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“Live organic vegan euphoria” – I’ve thought I’ve heard everything.

I can’t eat this though, due to a nasty chocolate allergy, and the price.
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It is interesting how this tiny health food store manages to stay in business just a few blocks away from Whole Foods.  
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Just about everything you need to eat healthy can be found at your local grocery, supermarket, or farmer’s market. You don’t have to eat expensive foods to be optimally healthy. If you know how to identify edible wild plants, you can even get vegetables for free if you have a large park or wilderness area near you.

You get most of your protein from nuts?!

Rumors have been swirling around about this for quite some time. I thought it was time to tell the truth. I do, in fact, on many days get most of my protein from nuts. Or a delicious combination of nuts and legumes. The Wild Juggler is in fact a vegetarian.

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So how is this possible? Is he, yet again, violating the laws of physics? Truth be told, nuts are a great source of protein.
1/4 cup of almonds contains about 6 grams of protein.

While it also has a lot of fat, it is mostly the healthy, unsaturated kind of fat. Almonds and many other nuts are also good sources of fiber, minerals, and protective phyto-chemicals, similar to the ones in tea and some vegetables. I love my nuts raw and unprocessed. I don’t eat nuts that have added oils, salt, sugar or anything. Read labels. I often snack on nuts after a long joggle.

If you’re afraid that eating nuts will cause weight gain, do not worry. I eat tons of nuts almost every day; if you’ve been pecan at my photos, you know I’m not exactly obese. Still not convinced?

According to Fitwatch.com, eating nuts regularly can help you lose weight by speeding up your metabolism – Why Eating Nuts Can Help You Lose Weight

Fiber, always your friend, helps prevent the fat from getting absorbed. I think nuts are a great way to replace meat and dairy in your diet. People who eat a lot of nuts are generally slimmer, on average than those who eat the least. Nut butters make a great snack and are good for making sandwiches. Peanut butter is one of my favorites, though technically, peanuts are a legume.

I totally love nuts. When people call me a “nut”, I take it as a compliment. So go nuts with nuts, and try to violate the laws of physics with your fitness routine!

New joggling record set in the rain

Laugh at bad weather. Unless the rain is especially heavy, or there’s tornadoes or a hurricane, don’t let “bad” weather interfere with your running routine. Yet again I learned the important lesson today to not let the weather prevent me from performing at my best.

It was raining, but luckily it was light. It was about 40 farenheit(4.4 C) but I didn’t feel the cold. There were a lot of puddles around that I dodged or jumped over. There was just slightly more than a hint of wind. I recently purchased some new sneakers, but wore my older pair since there is still some life in them. I wore sweatpants instead of shorts and had gloves and sunglasses(not very dark ones because of how cloudy it was)on. I didn’t really feel that energetic in the morning when I joggled. My breakfast was my usual bialys with sunflower seeds. 

Unfortunately, my feet got a little wet due to the rain and due to stepping in a few puddles(I need to work on this!), and my gloves got wet also. My sweatshirt and hat also got very wet. Worst of all, my sunglasses got wet and foggy, in spite of the baseball type hat I had on. I sometimes had trouble seeing the balls or my surroundings, but I couldn’t dry them for obvious reasons.

And yet, I broke all previous records. I consistently joggled 3 balls in 1 hour and 5 minutes, covering a distance of 6.7 miles(10.7 km) from start to finish without dropping any of the wet balls even once. I still have trouble believing it. I almost dropped the balls about 5 times(usually while doing tricks) but managed to catch them at the last second. I didn’t even intend to break any records, since I was kind of tired and thought the wet weather would interfere with my joggling. It didn’t. It was an amazing experience, though very exhausting toward the end. I didn’t even do any warm-ups before the run.

I still consider myself to be a total clutz.

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Opossum in Mount Vernon

Opossum in Mount Vernon

Opossum sighting in Mount Vernon, New York. They are rarely seen because they are nocturnal. They are the only species of marsupial in North America. This photo was taken only a few miles north of New York City – New York City has opossums too. They are generally harmless.

What goes through the mind of a joggler?

Besides how cool and awesome it is to joggle?

Contrary to what many might think, it doesn’t require deep concentration. The experience is somewhat meditative, but not really all that different from what goes through the mind of a runner. The juggling is almost totally automatic, although I may have to correct myself every now and then if my mind wanders or becomes distracted. Or if I am changing speed or doing tricks.

Rhythm is everything in joggling. The running is what sets the rhythm and the juggling follows it. It is almost like making music; I often have glorious music playing in my head(I never listen to recorded music while running), music which roughly fits the rhythm of my joggling. Sometimes I even hum or sing a little to give a melody to the rhythm. I rarely focus on the rhythm as closely as I used to. It’s there, but I only have to pay attention to it when I need to make adjustments. Beginners need to pay much closer attention.

Being one of the few people in the country who regularly joggles(there are none in my immediate area) adds a certain mystique to the activity, both for me and onlookers. Like I am just that much closer to unlocking the secrets of the universe. It is running meets esoterica, the next stage in evolution for running and fitness. Above all, it’s hard to not feel special while doing it.

But at the same time, I often feel it is rather mundane – it is just a type of exercise, that’s all. I’m just running with a little something added, it’s not like I am saving the world. It’s just that I am better coordinated than most, although to what degree this is genetic rather than due to training is difficult to figure out.

Joggling seems to makes life’s problems much smaller, much more so than mere running. It shrinks an angry elephant to the size of a mite. I believe it is the “joggler’s high” which accomplishes this. It adds magic to running, and beauty and stimulates parts of the mind that I didn’t know exist.

All this, from running with a little something added.

Old Man Winter versus the Joggler part II

Old Man Winter did not want me or anyone out there yesterday in his snowstorm. As time went by, the wind he threw at me became angrier, and my hands became colder and wetter, as if joggling in the snow was the ultimate act of defiance. In spite of all this I refused to concede defeat, and managed to joggle straight for an hour, even making good time, as if it was a sunny 50 F(10 C) degree day. I even managed to do my usual route along the Bronx river.

This is unlike the last time I joggled in a snowstorm for around 20 minutes(and ran and power-walked for another 30 minutes) running into stores to take shelter every now and then. Yesterday was the real thing.

Due to my feet and hands becoming very cold and wet, I definitely need better winter clothing. I dropped the balls many times due to the wind and my cold hands feeling like they were going to fall off, even though I had gloves on. There was almost no other soul out there. Luckily there was little snow accumulation, since it was about 35 F(1.6 C). I almost slipped a few times, but always managed to quickly correct my footing. If the temperature had been below freezing, I probably wouldn’t have been out there for an hour.

This was one of my most humbling joggling experiences. It felt fantastic upon completion; it was such a relief to get home, to finally warm up and dry off. I do not recommend joggling in snowstorms, unless you have a lot of experience hiking or playing sports in the snow. Just because I can sort of do it, doesn’t mean you should.