Advice from a veteran trapeze performer: Throw your heart over the bars and your body will follow.
What’s so funny about the above statement is that you actually have to get up the ladder, navigate the tiny little platform, and reach forward into the void to get the trapeze with only someone’s hand hooked into the back of your belt.
My heart was in my throat already, so it would have been pretty hard to throw it over the bars.
How we ended up at the circus
Emerald City Trapeze isn’t really the circus, more like a Circ du Soleil practice space. These people are fit.
We came to this space through a Groupon we bought a few months ago for a trapeze lesson. Several of our friends bought the same deal, so we were able to go as a group. It was fun sharing this experience with Betsy M, Karen, Katy, and Katy’s daughter.
Both Warren and I are afraid of heights (even though he recently jumped out of a plane), so this was a pretty big leap for us (pun intended).
A funny little side story
We were reading up on what we needed to bring to class the night before. The required attire was form-fitting pants that cover your knees but are not too long. This was no problem for me because I have yoga capris that will work, but Warren had nothing like this in his wardrobe. Even though we didn’t want to spend the money, we knew we’d have to buy something for him to wear.
The morning of our class we headed out to our local Fred Meyer, which is a sort of grocery store/discount chain in the Pacific Northwest. As we wandered through the men’s section, we couldn’t find anything but the baggy kind of jogging pants that would not work. I found a pair of men’s compression running pants and held them up for Warren to see. He said a few choice words to me and walked away as I laughed. He managed to find a pair of plain-jane gray sweatpants with elastic ankles, and I carried along the running pants. We headed for the dressing room.
He tried the sweatpants on and they looked okay, but we both knew this was something he would not take on the trip. Why spend the money for one use? The running pants, however, could be used to layer when we got to colder areas. (See how good I am at this?). Warren tried them on and came out of the dressing room with a red face. “I can’t wear these!”
This is where it gets really funny. A woman came out of the adjacent dressing room, where she was helping her husband or son try on clothes. She looked at Warren, whistled at him, and then walked back into the dressing room and said she had just seen a really cute guy outside in tight pants.
I thought Warren was going to die of embarrassment. Then a male clerk came over to ask him if he needed any help. Now I don’t know about you guys, but I never get unsolicited help from the clerks at a discount store. Especially when I don’t look as if I need it. I told Warren those were definitely attention-getting pants, and he had to buy them. Reluctantly, he agreed.
Trapeze Ground School
We started off with Milla taking us through the “ground school” of trapeze, which consists of how to stretch, the importance of listening for commands, and how to properly tuck your knees. This was the easy part.
Then she cinched us up into our safety belts. Wow, these were tight. We couldn’t imagine how we were going to bend at the waist at all, but later on I realized how right she was. You do not want a loose belt as you’re dangling in space.
We then practiced the “ready” and “hup!” commands on the board. It was basically a 2×6 piece of lumber, and I just assumed it was so small to take up less space on the warmup area. I was wrong. It was an exact replica of the platform 3 stories high that we were going to jump from in just a few moments.
After that, we all practiced pulling our knees through a trapeze that was just about 6 feet from the ground. This was a truly embarrassing exercise since most everyone had to have help and no one looks good from that angle. We were told that the force of motion at the end of the swing would make it much easier to do (your body is about 2-1/2 times heavier at the bottom of the swing than it is in real life – a frightening thought).
Up in the Air
We took turns climbing the ladder and practicing the following routine (each move done at the end of an arc) with Brian, the caller, and Brent, who helped us at the top of the platform:
- Swing out
- Tuck knees and hang from the trapeze
- Let go of the bar with our hands
- Look backward with hands out (as if we were going to be caught)
- Grabbing the bar and taking our knees off in a controlled motion
- Keeping legs straight behind us, quickly moving forward, back, forward and tucking knees as we release and fall to the net
Got all that?
Those who were able to do all those things without a mistake were able to move on to the advanced portion of the class, which actually added in a catch by another performer from the troupe. We were all anxious to hear the cowbell ring after our turns because that meant we got to advance to the catch school.
I won’t bore you with the details of my terrible performance, which did not get me to catch school. In fact, I never even got my legs over the bar.
But Warren – wow! He was amazing. He made all his moves perfectly, and he was one of 3 people who ended up in catch school. Watch the video below to see how he did….
Making the most of your own trapeze experience
- If you live in the Seattle area, I can highly recommend Emerald City Trapeze.
- To find a trapeze class in your area, simply google “(your city name) trapeze” and then search for reviews on Yelp! and other sources to find the best one.
- Wear form-fitting clothes and leave all your jewelry at home.
- Be sure to arrive early and do all the recommended stretches. Even if you do you will still be sore the next few days – these are muscles you don’t use often – but you will reduce your risk of injury.
- If you can bring a friend to take pictures you should. We were lucky to have a non-flying friend join us, and we took turns taking pictures and videos of each other so we could all relive the experience later. It goes by so quickly, you’ll be glad you did this.
We finished off our experience with nachos and margaritas on an outdoor deck in the sunshine with good friends. This is not required, but it certainly is recommended.