Feb 15 2019


Do you have good balance? What about your coordination? It takes both to ride a unicycle. If you’re willing to train, build your core strength, and not be afraid to fall, you could become good at it one day.

Riding a unicycle isn’t only for people who juggle in the circus. In today’s world, that’s a stereotype that’s just not true anymore. Learning to steer a unicycle without one’s hands is a great way to get exercise. Plus it’s just plain fun to challenge yourself to try something new.

Can Jessica or Gary ride a unicycle? Learn about this unique sport in today’s English lesson.


Jessica: So, Gary.
Gary: Yeah.
Jessica: My cousin rides a unicycle.
Gary: No way.
Jessica: Yes. He was trying to train to be in the circus, and he is incredible. His coordination...
Gary: I bet his balance...
Jessica: ...and his balance, yeah. And his core strength. It’s all in the abs, because you’re not using your hands to steer.
Gary: If he has what it takes to ride around on the streets on his unicycle, and ride through the roads and all the street lights…
Jessica: He absolutely does.
Gary: So, what does he do when it gets to yellow and red and he’s… I can’t imagine how hard that is.
Jessica: I know this fits the stereotype when you picture a unicyclist, but he can actually balance, and go forward and back while he’s juggling.
Gary: Wow.
Jessica: So, I’ve seen him stop on the street and just juggle while he’s on the unicycle.
Gary: Wow. The core strength for that…
Jessica: I know.
Gary: ...just to keep your stomach and everything so relaxed and tight at the same time.
Jessica: It’s very impressive.
Gary: Maybe he could show me how to do it one day. That would be amazing.
Jessica: Absolutely. Sounds like fun.


Jessica is proud of her cousin. He can ride a unicycle, which isn’t something that everyone can do. Not only that, but her cousin can juggle at the same time. Jessica clearly thinks that he’s an excellent unicyclist.

It’s obvious that Gary knows that unicycling is hard work. He understands that a person needs to be strong and have good balance to ride one. When he learns that Jessica’s cousin rides his unicycle on city streets, Gary is even more amazed. He even asks Jessica if her cousin might have the time to teach him how.

Can you ride a unicycle? If not, do you want to try? Why or why not?

Grammar Point

Past Progressive Tense

Talking about her cousin, Jessica says, “He was trying to… be in the circus.” She uses the past progressive tense.

The past progressive tense (also sometimes called “past continuous”) is formed by using was/were + main verb + ing, as in, “We were eating dinner when the phone rang.”

We use the past progressive tense to talk about actions that were already in progress when another action took place in the past. (At the moment the phone rang, we were already in the process of eating dinner.)

It’s also common to use this tense to talk about two on-going actions that were happening at the same time in the past, as in, “While Justin Timberlake was finishing his new album, his fans were waiting for it to come out.”

Finally, we can also use this tense to talk about actions in the past that took place over time, as in, “I couldn’t sleep last night because dogs were barking the whole night.”

Which sentence is in past progressive tense, “They were tried to travel around the world,” or, “They were trying to travel around the world”?


  1. Why did Jessica’s cousin learn how to ride a unicycle?

  2. What do Gary and Jessica believe that a unicyclist needs?

  3. You need strong __ to ride a unicycle.

  4. Which sentence is in past progressive tense?

See the full English lesson at English, baby!