Friday, July 27, 2012

Tackling Trapeze Flying (or something like that)


I like to be daring. I enjoy new adventures. So when I saw people flying over Lake Michigan on huge trapezes, I got excited. How fun would it be to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, the lake breeze wafting over me?  Turns out, that wasn't exactly the experience I had.


The Trapeze School of New York in Chicago appeals to everyone's sense of fun. Lots of people watched as we took turns on the trapeze and asked about classes. Of course,watching and doing are two totally different things. Caught up in the thrill of actually flying on a trapeze, it's easy to overlook the details. The most significant detail that I wish I had known before the class, is that you need to be coordinated. Guess what? Coordination has never been my strong suit. My life is extremely focused on the mental sphere so my command of the physical is relatively weak. Even my trainer gets puzzled with my ability to mix up the simplest routines. So you can imagine my panic when I realized that I would have to grab hold of the 15-pound bar, jump, hang from my knees and in the end, grasp our instructor's hands in perfect timing.



The first feat was just getting into the proper takeoff position. You are supposed to stand with your toes literally hanging off the platform, shoulders back and backside tucked in. The very act of having my feet drop  from the platform was scary for me. You feel as if you will fall immediately.


Then the whole shoulders back, backside tucked thing eluded me. Holding onto that heavy bar, my body was pulled toward it but I was supposed to fight it and pull backward. Yeah. Okay.


My legs were supposed to be straight, with toes pointed. The sensation of gripping the metal bar and feeling like my hands would slip was my focus, not my legs. I collected four callouses on my palms just from holding on to that bar so tightly.


My lower body strength is very good so I had no problem slipping my legs over the bar.


But did I mention that I detest being upside down? The disoriented feeling of your head swinging and everything out of focus unnerves me. You can see my instructor waiting for me to unfold my arms and grab his hands as he swung toward me, above. Never happened.


Climbing up that ladder, stepping onto the platform and gazing at that bar continued to spook me all of the five times that I did it. My takeoff improved and my timing grew slightly better but I was counting the minutes until the three-hour class would end. I think that I have mastered scarier things like zip lining in a Costa Rican rain forest and climbing several volcanoes but trapeze flying was a purely psychological scare for me. After all, I was attached to safety lines and there was a big net to catch me so I wasn't going to fall to my death. No, as my instructor explained to me, this was about letting go and just shutting out all of the fears. I think I need a longer class for that. Several of my classmates were tackling the trapeze for the third and fourth time but I felt no such temptation. I was glad that I did it but I was really glad that it was over.


I stumbled out on shaky legs and arms that would ache for four days afterwards. I rewarded myself with the thing that always makes me feel better. High quality sugar. I scarfed down gourmet pistachio and cherry almond cupcakes and almost felt like I could try trapeze flying again. Almost.

15 comments:

Rachel Cotterill said...

I bought my husband a circus skills day for his birthday a few years back - we loved it! Though I preferred the static trapeze to its glitzier cousin :-)

Fly Girl said...

Rachel, I think practicing on the static trapeze would have made this easier for me.

Katie Bolinger said...

A small part of me thinks you are CRAZY. But all of me is proud to know you.

Fly Girl said...

Katie, thanks. A small part of me is probably crazy!

A Cuban In London said...

That was great! I have to admit that I'm a bit afraid of heights so maybe trapeeze is not for me. Trampolining, yes. I've done it and I can be on it for hours on end. Trapeez, even with the safety net below, I'm always wondering what if...? ;-)

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Cubano, I don't think I would ever have attempted this if I had a fear of heights. It's a lot of fears to let go of at once. Now, trampolines, that's what I call fun!

The Epic Adventurer said...

I am dying to try trapeze! It's my plan for myself when I am in one place long enough!

Fly Girl said...

Julia, It's a great way to get out of your comfort zone. I definitely recommend being in one place for awhile before you try it.

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

Very daring, Rosalind. Glad you came out of it in one piece! You deserved the cupcakes!

Fly Girl said...

Andrew, thanks. I feel like I really earned them.

Charles Kosman said...

Rosalind, sometimes just stepping up to the bar is enough to prove that you can do something. Success is only defined by what we're trying to accomplish. I consider it a sucess anytime I'm willing to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. Congrats for that!

I had the pleasure of staying at a resort a few years ago in the Dominican Republic that had a trapeze and let us give it a try. It was tough but fun and we stupidly agreed to come back that night and perform in it for that nights big show.

It was scary enough just doing it in the daylight with a few watchers but at night with hundreds of people gawking at you was another story. I have no recollection if I landed it but that might have been due to the copious amounts of alcohol we consumed after to steady our nerves. I’m jealous about the cupcakes though. ;)

Fly Girl said...

Charles, you are so right, thanks. I think alcohol would have made it a lot easier but they don't allow drinking and flying! Thanks for dropping by.

Ekua said...

I'm terrified just looking at these photos :P I swung on a contraption very similar to this in Laos. It wasn't trapeze art but I had to jump off the platform, swing, and then jump into the river. So scary... and no thanks!

Those cupcakes must have tasted even more delicious after this experience ;)

travel and vacation planning said...

Looks like you had so much fun! Can't wait to try that one! Thanks for sharing. ;)

Fly Girl said...

Ekua, so, so scary! Those cupcakes almost made me forget just how scary.
Travel, thanks for visiting.