#303: Fly on a Trapeze

Flying on the trapeze

Flying on the trapeze

LOCATION: Trapeze School New York. Washington DC

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It’s official. I will not be leaving my job to join the circus any time soon…or EVER for that matter. I never really realized how hard flying a trapeze would be. I’m not even sure it was exactly hard; it’s just that my fear took over. I think it is funny that as much as I’ve done, something like this would induce as much fear as it did. I did not like it. I have issues with heights, but it is usually when I don’t have a safety device on. However, after the long drive home from DC, I’ve pinpointed the fear. I am afraid of heights, but once I get into the motion of things I’m fine. For instance, I’ve never been able to open my eyes on the first drop of a roller coaster ride. After that first drop, I can open my eyes and everything will be fine. Same goes with skydiving; I will close my eyes as I exit the plane but open them soon after and be fine. I guess rappelling off of stuff is fine since I don’t have to look down at all if I don’t want to. I usually do, but it is also after those first AHH moments. Trapeze flying, you’re looking down the whole time, there is no moment where I could close my eyes to calm myself. My fear kicked in big time. But, I was ready. I outfitted myself in a Superman shirt and cape socks just for the occasion. Superman can fly, so what better way to fly on a trapeze! My friend Jason went as Batman for the occasion. We were superhero decked out for sure! Somehow there must have been kryptonite in the room or something, because I wasn’t getting the superhero vibe that I should have had.

Jason and me in our costumes

Jason and me in our costumes

I arrived at the Trapeze school and was immediately shocked at how small the place was. It was literally a small tent like structure in the middle of downtown DC. I guess I had envisioned a big building, but this got the job done and was fine. Upon entering, I was instantly greeted with the large trapeze net in the middle and a group of middle schoolers practicing acrobatics.

The Trapeze School

The Trapeze School

The class was broken up into two; the ones who have taken the class and the ones who had not. Jason had done the trapeze lesson twice before. He really enjoyed it. There were three people in the first timer group and five in the seasoned pros. The regulars immediately began climbing the long ladder to start the class while the newbies were quickly briefed on what to do. By quickly, I mean only three minutes worth of lessons. We were told to hook ourselves to the harness while climbing the ladder and then hold on to the ladder ledge up top while we had a new harness put on. We would reach forward with our right arm to grab the bar and then grab with our second hand while they were holding us back. We could then swing and attempt a knee hang. We were never explained the “calls” that would be made in the air or when to do the knee hang. This is something that definitely should have been mentioned since we were unsure and nervous.

I climbed the ladder, which definitely stirred up my nerves since it was so wobbly. I made it to the top, I was really high up there. I instantly made my death grip on the ladder bar up there while waiting for my turn to start. I was then told to reach for the trapeze bar. While doing so, you feel like you could fall at any moment. My heart was pounding.

Setting up. Notice the death grip on the platform bar

Setting up. Notice the death grip on the platform bar

I grabbed the bar with my other hand and had a slight push forward as I went for my swing. While my heart pounded in my ears and the loud sounds of the trapeze bar swooshed by, I had a hard time hearing the calls of the trapeze lady. She was screaming UP, UP and OFF, which, while screaming, sounds all exactly the same. We weren’t told what up, up and off was, is that the trick I’m supposed to do? I tried to get into the knee hang position, but at that point, I had lost my momentum to be able to do it. She kept screaming off (which sounded like UP), so I had to ask if she meant get off the bar. She did, so I let myself fall into the net. My first experience might have been better if they had explained all that stuff before.

Flying on the trapeze

Flying on the trapeze

My other attempts at flying progressively got easier since the nerves weren’t nearly as bad.

Here is video of my flight

They were definitely still there though. I was unable to make a knee hang in any of my attempts since I wasn’t sure when I was supposed to be executing them. My flexibility just wouldn’t allow it to happen and I would just swing instead. My friend Jason was able to complete a knee hang and a catch while flying.

Here’s his catch and the RIGHT way to fly on a trapeze.

It was definitely fun to watch what you could progress into. I know I’ll have to go back at some point because I want to attempt a catch. But, in conclusion, jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet was much easier to me than climbing a tall ladder and flying off a trapeze. I’ll jump out of a plane any day compared to that!! Now to go ice my hands from the constant death grip I had.

*Thank you Jason for accompanying me on this adventure.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? I don’t want to, but I need to so I can complete a catch.

HOW TO DO THIS: $59 for a 2 hour class. http://washingtondc.trapezeschool.com/. They offer other classes as well such as juggling, silks and acrobatics.

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