My list of nevers: sky diving, bungee jumping and leaping off buildings, for that matter (let’s hope no one ever puts me up to that). But I recently had my taste of what it would be like to run away and join the circus. The Trapeze School of New York taught me to let go of some of my fears and last Tuesday night I did just that when I joined some friends for some high flying trapeze.
The School’s motto, “Forget Fear, Worry About the Addiction,” is so true! Upon entering I felt a little calmer and thought oh, this place doesn’t seem so intimidating. After signing in, the newbies of the group met the instructors who donned us with a harness (I think I know what it must feel like to wear a corset) and were taught a quick lesson on the art of trapeze. Then it was time to approach the ladder. The girls pointed at me as in “you go first” so off I obliged. Ironically I’d rather be the first person in a group to try something new than the last. Two caribiners and a rope later, I was all hooked up to my harness and I approached the ladder in front of me. The 23-foot climb to the platform was just about one of the most petrifying climbs I’ve ever taken.
When I got to the top I was shaking. My heart was pounding and I was thinking “what on earth have I gotten myself into!?” The instructor on the platform introduced herself and commanded me, “Take a deep breath and let it out, and take another deep breath and let it out.” Then the real fear was about to come. She hooked my harnes to another rope and told me to hold onto a smaller ladder with my left hand, square my shoulders and put my feet shoulder width apart with my toes dangling off the edge of the platform. And then to lean forward, hips out, shoulders back. The instructor held my harness from behind, so while I could trust I was not going anywhere, it was still a bit out of my comfort zone to be leaning over the edge. She had me lean a little more forward and reach with my right hand for the bar. I grabbed it and leaned out slightly more. Then she told me that when I was ready to reach for the bar with my other hand (which was holding on to another ladder this whole time). Once I had a good grip with both hands on the bar, it was time for the commands, “knees bent, hep,” meaning JUMP! So jump I did or well, more like a little step into the abyss. And then I was airborne. For the first time, all I did was swing and then at the command of the instructor below I let go and fell into the net. Coming down the first time was not the most graceful–I landed on my feet (recommended landing on your back). But I made it and I survived. The fun part after that was watching my friends take their first swings.
Swing two was a bit less scary. As I swung the instructors asked me if I wanted to try the first skill which requires lifting up one’s legs, wrapping them around the bar and then letting go and hanging, then reaching back up to grab the bar, letting the legs down and then release. I’m thinking, “there is no way!” but then to my surprise I tried it. I was not quick enough to get my legs up right at the first command so I did it as I was slowing down instead. Here is a cool sequence of photos taken by my friend Katie.
Two swings later I mastered it (at least in my eyes) and on my final swing it all happened so smoothly and right on queue. Check out the video below. It was such a proud moment for me, conquering some fears and feeling very free at the end. Talk about a natural high. The next day or two I could feel the work in my upper back, arms and calves. So I qualify this as a workout of some kind–at least using a set of muscles I normally do not feel. And guess what, I’m going again! Maybe I’ll even master a new trick.