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The Benefits of Circus Skills Workshops

Juggling has been shown in scientific studies to aid development of the brain. It's also been linked to improved academic skills, and it's fantastic for team building.

The benefits of learning to juggle have been in the news recently, and you may have even heard me talking to Ronnie Barbour on BBC Three Counties Radio about some of the more recent research suggesting juggling increases brain power.

As a juggler I find this very interesting, but we need to keep this in perspective. Learning to juggle won't suddenly make you capable of solving quadratic equations, nor will it instantly improve your chess. What it's been shown to do recently is improve the parts of the brain that deal with reaching and grasping, as well as peripheral vision. In schools teachers have also linked it to improvements in behaviour, as well as improvements in concentration and reading.

It also helps personal development in many other ways

It's excellent gentle exercise

The movement used when juggling is gentle, continuous and flowing, which makes it very good aerobic and physical exercise. Needless to say, the more you progress, the better it gets.

Improves hand to eye coordination

Many people claim they couldn't learn to juggle because they don't have the coordination. This is the not the best way to think about it. You learn coordination by learning such things as juggling. Nobody was born being able to do this, we all had to learn, and the more we learn, the better our coordination becomes.

Most sports involve a small amount of coordination, and then some running around, and then some more coordination, and then some running around etc etc. Juggling and Circus skills are so good because they are continuous coordination and balance practice. This means that after the running around, when you get to the bit where you need the coordination .... it's there.

Increase your reflex speed

Juggling involves making continual reflex 'decisions' in order to catch objects. The more you do it, the better/faster you become.

Improves your sense of rhythm

Normal juggling is done to a steady rhythm, but there are lots of different ways of timing throws and catches. At it's simplest, it's steady and regular. Because you're working with gravity (which is generally pretty consistent) you'll find you can't help but fall into that steady rhythm. When you've been at it a while longer you'll find ways of breaking into different rhythms and you can get seriously syncopated.

Great sense of achievement from learning new things

Children love learning new things when given the proper encouragement, and adults are no different. You can teach an old dog new tricks, as long as people are interested in learning. Once we get over the fear of trying new things, it's great to realise again that learning is a pleasure. Especially when you get such a great party trick at the end of it.

Stress relief and a heightened sense of well being

You can't learn to juggle and think about all the woes of the world at the same time. It simply doesn't work. By making yourself concentrate on juggling, it focuses you mind away from everything else, giving you a chance to relax. It's great stress relief.

Learning how to break down problems into manageable chunks

It's quite a complicated problem which we can make simple by breaking it down. Once you've gone through this process with a an obvious example like juggling, it's easier to see how to apply similar techniques to everyday life.

Improves the ability to concentrate

Juggling is a little like magic in that when people first see it, they are amazed. It's that awe which generally gives people the desire to focus for any length of time when learning, and once they get used to applying themselves to learn something in one field, that ability to apply themselves can transfer itself to others.

Builds self confidence

Solid inner confidence is born of the fact that you know you're capable. Every time you learn something new, you're proving you're capable of something else. Once people realise they can do amazing things such as circus skills, they realise they're capable of so much more.

Provokes an Interest in Life Long Learning

Learning new things is fun, but we sometimes get stuck in a rut, either through previous failures, or simply lack of encouragement. Learning to juggle and other circus skills is a simple step to remind yourself that learning new things is enjoyable, and you are capable of it.

As competitive as you want it to be

You can be competitive when juggling or other circus skills, as with anything, but the focus of our workshops is based around cooperation. By helping each other learn, we all achieve more.

and most of all, it's fun

Kids love it, but more surprisingly, so do adults. The kids simply get down and learn like it's the most natural thing in the world. Adults tend to have to break a few more barriers when trying these things, and it's amazing how much they laugh while they're doing that.