From my shoulders, to my core, to my toes . . . everything hurt when I awoke the next morning. But this lingering soreness didn’t stem from a typical gym workout. Instead, the surprising culprit was a solid, metal bar commonly used by circus performers.
The Trapeze School New York Beantown, currently located inside Jordan’s Furniture in Reading, Mass., offers a host of deft-defying programs, including the popular flying trapeze class.
Despite my zest for adventure, I try and steer clear of most activities that have to do with heights . . . or being propelled through the air, for that matter. But this was a challenge I could not refuse.
Before setting foot atop a 23-foot tall platform, an instructor provided a primer, on solid ground, on what the class would entail. Step by step, he took me through each phase of the process, from how to hold onto the bar, to the proper way to leap off the ledge.
Next, the instructors strapped me into a harness and led me up a steep staircase, all while I was thinking: What have I gotten myself into?
My first attempt was a blur. As my body made its maiden voyage through the air, my stomach sank while thoughts of “What if?” raced through my mind. What if the harness snapped? What if I crashed right through the safety net? That’s when I realized that trapeze is as much a mental exercise as it is physical.
As soon as I flipped the switch and silenced those scary thoughts, I was better able to focus on the physicality of it all, a fusing of athleticism with artistry. As you swing through the air, your core is constantly engaged while your arms and legs provide stability and momentum.
On my next few attempts, an instructor down below, who was equipped with a microphone, provided instruction. Since I was a rookie, he kept things pretty simple, with cues on how to swing my legs and where to point my toes.
But it didn’t take long before he encouraged me to hang upside down from the bar by wrapping my legs around it. As soon as those words came out of his mouth, my brain immediately vetoed the idea. But I quickly changed my mind, wondering when I would get an opportunity like this again.
It took a couple of tries, but I did it. And the feeling of accomplishment is second only to winning a Super Bowl. (Or at least that’s the way it felt to me.)
It probably won’t take the place of regular workouts at the gym, but a flying trapeze class can certainly act as a supplement, particularly if you’re looking for a fun, physical activity to do . . . with a healthy dose of fear sprinkled in.