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From Juggling to Bodybuilding

I know, usually it’s the other way around. Often jugglers will stick with juggling through elementary school, maybe even high school and college but at some point they stop and obtain mainstream careers. Even Vova Galchenko has a job that has nothing to do with juggling, yet he can still juggle 7 clubs better than anyone in his pay grade. Not that many jugglers decide to become professional jugglers and are successful at it. Very few jugglers start their career with a Pee Wee Herman themed juggling routine, and even fewer bodybuilders can say the same. I recently noticed Cameron’s fitness based Facebook posts and remembered him from previous events and I found this to be an interesting transition from juggling. But of course to find why fitness replaced juggling, we must start at the beginning.

     How and why did you get into juggling?
I got into juggling when I got a “Juggling for the complete Klutz” book for christmas. My Dad had taught himself to juggle when he was younger and decided to give me some lessons. It took me about 3 months to learn what took him 4 years to teach himself. He was convinced juggling was my calling and we started looking for a coach. As it turns out, juggling coaches aren’t very easy to find. It was at a shoe sale that we met Richard Kennison who was there as an entertainer. I started working with Richard once a week and practicing every day after that.

     What was the pinnacle of your juggling career / hobby?
The pinnacle of my juggling career/ hobby would be getting asked to do an interview by Jason Garfield. A close second would probably be competing as Pee Wee Herman (thanks Mom).

     What were your goals with juggling?
Back when I was competing my goal was to get better and win – I wanted to be known as a proficient technical juggler instead of a great performer. I would love to claim to be the best in the world at something (or “suck less than anybody else sucked that year”)!

     What were your favorite subjects in school?
My favorite classes in college were sports psychology, strength and conditioning, and sports nutrition. I suppose the subject would be Kinesiology (this is what I majored in).

     How did you get into bodybuilding and fitness?
When I turned 16 I realized my body type was less than what the opposite sex would find desirable. I would describe myself as husky or chubby, I never got way out of control with my weight. When I decided to do something about it I sought out a family friend that had a history of competitive bodybuilding and powerlifting. He wrote me a workout and sent me on my way. It only took me a week to catch the bug. I was hooked on the feeling of lifting weights and pushing my body to its limits. I would train with weights 5 days a week and practice juggling after.

     How much time did you need to let pass after working out before you could juggle?
I would go straight from working out to juggling with no break. I liked to chase the pump and keep my arms looking full while I juggled! I definitely noticed a difference in my ability after a heavy arm workout though – I figured it was good practice to juggle under extreme fatigue!

     I’ve found I get tired faster with 7 balls and my guess is that it’s because my arms weigh more. Do you think the weight of your arms plays a factor in endurance fatigue, or if it means you should have more endurance strength.
I can see where you are coming from there. This is my Kinesiology degree talking now but there is definitely an endurance fatigue factor with bigger arms. The higher and cleaner 7 ball pattern can’t last as long because the larger (Type II) muscle fibers are trained for strength and explosive power in contrast to a typical juggler who would train smaller (Type I) muscle fibers for endurance capacity. The larger arms lend themselves better to things such as 14 catches with 11 balls and not as well to things like a 5 ball endurance competition.

     What was the pinnacle of your bodybuilding career to date?
The pinnacle of my bodybuilding career/ hobby was taking 1st place at an INBA (all natural, drug tested, polygraph tested) California state level show.

     What are your goals with bodybuilding and/or fitness?
My goals with bodybuilding and fitness are all about building my business. After college I decided to open a franchise of the supplement company I used while getting ready for my bodybuilding contests. The company is called Nutrishop and they are in my opinion the best supplement store in the country. After college my goals for fitness changed a bit. I was no longer worried about looking/ feeling good for the sake of looking/ feeling good. I was working out to represent my brand as NutrishopSTL. If I progress far enough up the ranks in the bodybuilding world I can be a Team Nutrishop Athlete and be on the marketing material for the store. That would be the ultimate extrinsic goal.

That being said, at the end of the day the motivation for sports like bodybuilding and juggling comes from within the person. I’m not doing it for fame or recognition, I’m doing it to see just how far I can go, whether that be with a barbell or a juggling club.

     How did you transition from juggling to bodybuilding and fitness?
The transition happened in the gym. I was juggling in the basketball court of a 24 Hour Fitness and I slowly started preferring the weights to the juggling. I continued juggling random jobs until I was 20. Everything since then has been for friends and family (probably 2 shows a year avg). I haven’t practiced juggling in about 4 years but I do occasionally pick up the props to bring attention to Nutrishop. I can’t say I’ve lost much – I think the extra muscle makes those higher throws a little easier to keep accurate. I can still juggle a solid 7 ball pattern.

As to why I don’t juggle – this is simply a time issue. Running a business takes up almost all of my free time and the little I have left over is spent in the gym, although I suppose that could also be considered part of running my business. I have definitely considered making a comeback to juggling at some point when I have more free time.

     And of course that comeback would be at a WJF event:)
Of Course! You think I want to dress up like Pee Wee Herman and dance around ever again?

     Will you help recruit a team of 5 bodybuilders, teach them how to juggle three clubs and then how to play combat – thus creating the largest gross tonnage Major League Combat team?
HAHA – The bodybuilders would get crushed!  This would give Colbert something to talk about though.

     All the more reason to do it:) A bunch of big bodybuilders getting crushed by skinny jugglers. Which do you think is more practical – turning bodybuilders into great combat players, or turning jugglers into bodybuilders?
Definitely more practical to turn jugglers into bodybuilders. It’s very hard to teach skill/ talent/ hand eye coordination. Also, I’m fairly certain it would be an easier sell to get jugglers buff than to make bodybuilders pick up juggling.

     Have you noticed any similar benefits (physical, psychological or other) between juggling and bodybuilding and fitness?
I have noticed a shocking amount of similarities. The training has to be consistent and intense if you want to be one of the best. You have to get the gym even when you don’t feel like it. I wish I had the work ethic I have now when I was juggling. With bodybuilding you are working 24/7 because every single bite you take will get you closer or further from your goal. In that respect I would say bodybuilding has been harder than juggling. Then again, I never put in the time/ effort into juggling that I put into bodybuilding.

Psychological benefits are definitely very close. It’s a lonely road in these competitions, you train alone for months and months perfecting your routine or your body then you step on stage for one moment of glory and if you mess up or don’t perform your best you lose. You get back to the grindstone and hope you do better next time.

The sports are oddly similar when it comes to preparation time to actual stage time.  Also at this point in my life I am very comfortable on stage by myself with music playing (another weird similarity)


Cameron Ritter
Age – 24
Height – 5’10
Weight – 180
BF% – 8

Maximum Deadlift:  505
Maximum Balls Juggled: I have qualified 8 in the gym but never in performance
Maximum Barbell Bench Press: 295
Maximum Clubs Juggled: 5
Maximum Squat: 365 Deep/ Legit – 565 for a 1/2 squat
Maximum Bodyweight Pullups:  Dead Hang FULL range of motion 17

Favorite protein meals:
Off Season – Filet Mignon, Buffalo Burgers
Pre Contest – Chicken Breast, Turkey Breast – Boring but effective
Favorite Carb meals:
Off season or pre contest – Sweet Potatoes!

Food is for fuel not fun:)  – Eating is a 24/7 endeavor and I keep it as simple as I can, seasonings are my best friend. I couldn’t live without Franks Red Hot, and Braggs Liquid Amino Soy Sauce

Favorite supplements
Cellshock Research – N’sane pre workout
Vitasport – Pro7ein Synthesis (meal replacement and post workout)
Forzaone – Karbolyn XR3 – Post workout
– BCAA Sport
Nature’s Daily Essentials vitamin, greens, fruits, essential fatty acid

Cameron Ritter lives in St. Louis, MO and will be attending WJF 9 this December at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.

Jason Garfield

Jason Garfield, President of the World Juggling Federation