Getting into the swing
Taking the plunge on the flying trapeze at Jenks’ circuSoul trapeze academy.
To say I was nervous would be an understatement.
I’m not afraid of heights necessarily, but I’m not comfortable with them either. So as my husband, Hank, and I pulled up to the RiverWalk Crossing and I took in the daunting task in front of me, butterflies began to fly furiously in my stomach.
Yes, I had volunteered to take on this adventure, and I knew what it involved, but when the time actually came to climb that ladder and swing from that trapeze, I began having some second thoughts.
Fortunately, the staff at circuSoul quickly put my mind, and stomach, at ease. When I arrived for my 8:30 p.m. class June 23, they began by going over the safety rules — don’t walk under the net, steer clear of support poles, listen to your instructors. CircuSoul owner Kerry Tice then led me and the other student in that night’s class through a quick warm-up on a large mat on the ground, which consisted of a few Pilates positions and some stretches to get our bodies ready.
Here, the instructors also described what I would encounter once I was on the trapeze platform. They showed me how I should position my legs and how to hold the trapeze (using a sample bar), and they also described the command they would use — “Hup!,” rather than “Go,” which sounds too much like “No,” they said — to let me know when to step off the platform and when to let go of the bar.
From there, my instructor, Emily Wyatt, led me to a low trapeze, where I would practice a few of the tricks I would attempt on the higher version. On the low bar, I practiced swinging my legs, hanging from my knees and my release. I caught on fairly quickly, which made me less nervous to try the high bar. However, I did realize at this point how physically grueling trapeze can be, especially the arm and leg strength involved.
Once I had my bearings on the low bar, the time had come to try the high bar. First, I watched my classmate take his turn. After only three lessons, he looked like a pro. He swung effortlessly, hung from his knees and his releases looked nearly perfect. Tice informed me that not everyone progresses at this student’s rate, so I shouldn’t be intimidated.
Once it was my turn, I slowly made my way up the ladder, my hands sweaty from nerves. Once I arrived at the top, Wyatt was there to meet me, helping me into position and connecting the safety lines. I took hold of a pole on the platform and Emily helped me reach toward the trapeze, as she held my safety belt to stabilize me. Upon her command, I was supposed to grab the trapeze with my other hand and step off the platform. Of course, I was so nervous, I didn’t oblige. By the second command, I was ready and I grabbed the bar.
The first swing was terrifying and invigorating at the same time. It felt good to actually take the plunge. However, I was so distracted by the feel of it that I forgot all the other instruction I had been given — use your hips to swing, pull up your legs on command to hang from your knees — so I wound up just swinging back and forth a few times and waiting for the command to release into the net.
By my second turn on the trapeze, I thought I was ready to attempt the knee-hang. This time, I still needed two “Hups” to step off the platform, but I swung a little more easily. I attempted to swing my legs up to the bar, but I didn’t quite make it. Next time, Tice told me, assuring, “I know you can do it.”
While my third swing was much less nerve-wracking than the previous two, my body seemed to say, “I’ve had enough for today.” So while Tice encouraged me to attempt a back flip as my dismount, I merely swung back and forth a few times, let go and fell into the net.
This would have been discouraging, especially considering that two young students, probably about 8 and 10 years old, joined the class later and swung far more effortlessly than I had. However, as Tice led me and the other student through some cool-down stretches, I felt proud of myself. I had overcome my fear and tried a new activity, one that I will likely try again. And the experience proved that even someone with a minor fear of heights and little athletic ability can still “fly through the air with the greatest of ease.”
Well, maybe not the greatest of ease, but thanks to the helpful and encouraging circuSoul instructors, I did have a chance to fly.