Last weekend I learnt how to fly. Not in a grew wings and flew like a bird sense (though that would have been cool), but in a swung from a trapeze meters in the air form.
Things have been feeling a little ‘beige’ lately, so I decided to push my comfort zone and do something new that I’ve wanted to try for ages. Something that has been patiently waiting to be crossed off on my ‘Less Beige List‘. A trapeze lesson.
During the week I booked in for a two hour class with Gorilla Circus who were holding some of their summer sessions outdoors at Battersea Park.
I arrived at Battersea Park to a beautiful, sunny blue sky morning – perfect weather for ‘flying’. At 9am our group of ten were ready and eager to get underway. After being given a few safety instructions, the class started with some stretches to get our bodies warmed up and limber.
Nimble and prepped, we were given a demo on the low bar of the knee hang trick we would be attempting once in the air.
Swinging from the bar, knees were brought through our arms to hook onto the bar. Toes pointed and pulling our legs into our body, we could then let go to hang upside down. This took me back a few years to childhood days spent in the school playground.
We then needed to reach forward as far as we could, backs arched in training for our last swing when we would be caught by a catcher.
More technique was covered including how to reach for the bar, where arms should be placed, body positioning and the all important how and when to jump to take the leap of faith.
As we looked up watching one of the pros demonstrate the knee hang trick in the air, it was only then that it was mentioned how we would actually be getting off the trapeze into the safety net. “By the way, at the end you will do a somersault to finish. Kick your legs forward, back and then the momentum will help you flip”.
“You want me to do what?!”
While I was still processing all of this information and wondering how on earth I was going to remember what to do (and how), it was time for our class to to climb up and have a go.
Climbing the ladder up to the platform was definitely nerve-wrecking the first time.
There is a lot to remember, but the best advice I got was from a girl in our group on her seventh lesson. “Listen to everything the instructors tell you. If you do as they say, you’ll pick it up quickly and progress faster”.
I was all smiles on the ground beforehand…
Then it was into concentration mode as I got ready to clip the carabiner to my harness and make the climb up. Butterflies were starting to set into my stomach. Could I really do this?
I would be lying if I said there weren’t nerves when I got to the top of the platform and looked down, though I think my face says it all! How does it always look so much higher when you are looking down?
At this stage I was almost certain my heart was about to jump out of my chest, it was beating that fast. Breathe.
Leaning forward, both hands were on the trapeze and I waited instruction to go.
“Ready (bend knees). Hup! (jump)”.
All of a sudden, the platform from under my feet was gone and I was swinging through the air on the trapeze. The nerves subsided as I listened to the instructior giving me directions from the ground.
“Legs up, hook your knees, hands off, reach out, hands back up, legs off, legs forward, legs back and release”.
Landing in the net, the adrenaline after a successful first go was the biggest rush. I mentioned to the instructor that I could see how trapeze gets addictive. She smiled while replying “Wait until you get caught”.
My legs were shaking like jelly as I made my way down the ladder back onto solid ground. It was a relief, but I couldn’t wait to get back up for my next turn.
Standing on the platform before my second swing, the nerves came rushing back like the first.
The third go was much easier and we were all watched carefully by one of the instructors to make sure our timing and technique was correct so we could be caught on our last swing. This was the bit I had been looking forward to!
Nine out of ten of our group got the thumbs up for the catch, so we each had a turn where timing with our catcher was key. If our timing was out, then we wouldn’t be able to be caught. I was especially nervous as I really wanted to do it.
Standing back on the platform, I waited for the prompt and jumped into action. Everything went smoothly and before I knew it, the catchers hands were around my wrist. On his prompt “Gotcha”, I released my legs from the trapeze and was swinging through the air!
It was such an amazing feeling. If you have ever wanted to try your luck at trapeze (or do now), plenty of places offer lessons, so have a search for somewhere local.
Not quite off to join the circus (yet), but I definitely want to do another class. I’ve got a lot more to learn, but happy I managed to get the ‘hang’ of it.
After class we discovered the Foodies Festival nearby in the park, so celebrated with a glass of bubbles (any excuse).
Kiwis can fly,