With the Greatest of Ease

Course: Flying Trapeze

Institution: The Circus Center

Instructor: Scott Cameron

Location: San Francisco

Interestingly enough there is a glut of February birthdays at Consorte Media. So we decided to celebrate everyone’s birthday, including my own, with a company event. I, being the boss lady, decided on Flying Trapeze. The Circus Center in San Francisco offers flying trapeze lessons and ever since I heard of it I have wanted to try it. With whom else to attempt a circus act than my own company?

Surprisingly, most everyone was game. We arrived at the Center on a rainy afternoon in work-out clothes. I didn’t bother to reference the website and see about recommended attire and just wore yoga pants. Turns out they are the perfect things to wear.

The Center basically looks like an old gymnasium with a big net strung across the length of the room. There were 3 instructors, one woman and two men – 3 bods like you’ve never seen. Very in shape. The lesson started with words of warning about what places in the room we should avoid and what we should do when our cohorts were up on the Trapeze. Next, one of the instructors showed us what we would be doing on a static trapeze. It basically looks like a big swing hanging from the ceiling about 6 feet above a stack of blue mats.

Because I signed us up for the class, the instructors identified me as the ringleader and had me go first. So I sauntered over to the mats and was helped up to grab the bar of the static trapeze. The instructors explained ideal body position while I hung from the swing. Then upon verbal cues, like “Hup,” I swung my legs up and hooked them over the bar. On the next cue, I then released my hands from the bar and arched back. At this point you are hanging from the bar by just your legs. My hands are actually sweating as I type this just remembering my nerves.

Still, I am the fearless leader, so I sucked it up, showed no fear and performed the tasks. After demonstrating the ideal body arch I swung back up to put my hands on the bar and then pulled my legs down so I was hanging just by my hands. Funny how putting your hands back on the bar is easier than taking them off.

Next the instructors demonstrated how we should jump off the platform once we were up on the real trapeze. The idea is not to hesitate and make the jump more like a hop – enough to get clearance but you’re not long jumping here. We all tried it and then it was show time.

The instructors took their positions – one up at the platform, one holding on to a line connected to our harnesses (oh yeah, you do wear a safety harness – thank God!) and another in a position to bark instructions while we were mid-air.

Without even stopping to think I scrambled up the steep ladder and onto the platform. What wasn’t so clear from the ground instruction is how much you have to lean out from the platform in order to grab the swing. When you’re leaning out the only thing holding you is the instructor – he’s holding onto your safety harness from behind – that’s it.

For me, this was the hardest part. The instructor told me to lean out and grab the swing. Before I leaned out I asked, “Do you have me?”

“Oh yes,” he said. I took a deep breath and told myself, “He’s a professional, Alicia. You can do this!” Then I leaned out and grabbed the swing. At this point I’m still on the platform and just have to jump. The second hardest part. I took another deep breath, gripped the bar with two hands and jumped.

And then I heard the most amazing whoop-like sound. It was me screaming.

Everybody got a turn. Our goal was to execute a “catch” by the end of the lesson. You can see me performing the catch below.

 

It was a blast. It was also very interesting to see how each of our personalities came out when faced with fear: who tackled it and who didn’t. In the end, I was very proud of my team.

Like anything new, the hardest part is trusting the process and making the leap. I think the Circus taught us that with the right support, you can jump and be okay. I hope that no matter the number birthday, the Consorte team always remembers that.