You guys. This might be the coolest thing I’ve done yet this year. If you have ever had an inkling to take a trapeze class, give me a call and I will absolutely go with you!
A little background. I can’t remember when, exactly, I saw the trapeze school go up on Belmont Harbor, but I do remember thinking “I should remember this is here so that I can come and do this.” And then I promptly forgot it existed and never thought about it again. That is, until a friend told me that she went trapezing with her co-workers for a team building workshop. Since then, I’ve been running past this place pretty frequently and finally, over Memorial Day, I pulled the trigger.
The school is Trapeze School of New York and they have locations in a variety of cities. In Chicago they have two locations – one indoors at the Broadway Armory Park and this one outdoors at Belmont Harbor. I think the reason I didn’t do this sooner is (1) because of the weather and (2) because of the cost. With my low cost of living these days, I couldn’t justify spending $65 on a 2-hour class. Lucky for me, I realized that the Monday of Memorial Day was the same price as weekdays always are (yay for no holiday mark-up!), so I decided to go first thing in the morning and therefore only had to pay $47. (There is a one-time $22 registration fee, which I wasn’t expecting, but decided to suck it up since $22 on top of $47 is much better than $22 on top of $65).
Class started at 8:30 and they recommend arriving 15 minutes before class begins so that you can sign a waiver (in case you fall to your death). Classes are limited to 10 people and there was a mix of talents – from beginners all the way to people who have been doing this for multiple years (those chicks were awesome!). The weather was absolutely gorgeous and I’m so glad I decided not to sleep through this class.
First, they put you into a harness, then Jason separated all of the newbies from the regular students and explained to us what we would be doing and what we could expect while we are up there.
Here’s the entire apparatus:
Now, I know this doesn’t look like much. But if you look all the way on the left, at the top of the whole thing, you will see a shade, then below that along the back there is a net. Just in front of the net, about 3/4 of the way up, there is a teeny tiny platform. This is where we trapeze from. To me, the entire system is totally amazing.
At the base of the ladder, you hook your harness onto a pulley system. Then you climb the ladder while remaining attached to those pulleys. This system is what will keep you from falling (to your death) while you climb the ladder. Once you’re at the top, you’re 26 feet in the air (26 feet people!). From the ground, it doesn’t look that high. But once you get up there…let me save you the profanity and let me just tell you it’s really high. Like, really really high.
Moe was at the top. This chick is a total bad ass. She basically holds your harness and keeps you from falling (to your death) until you fly. She also does a lot of stuff while she’s up there. First, she will remove you from the ladder-pulley-system (yes, that is the technical term) and hook you onto the flying-pulley-system, which is connected (through a system of pulleys, obviously) to Shawn on the ground below. This system (and Shawn) will keep you from falling (to your death) while you’re flying. Once Moe hooks you in, she grabs the bar and hands it to you. To do this, you have to lean out over the platform and take the bar. It’s not light, and leaning over the platform is just a touch scary, but you do get used to it. Once you have the bar in both hands (you want to make sure your hands are more than shoulder-width apart), you put your toes over the front of the platform and then you really lean forward (this is where Moe’s badassness comes in handy), while she holds on to you. You literally lean out over the platform. Then you listen for someone (Shawn or Moe? Can’t remember) to say “ready”, and you bend your knees; and when they say “hup”, you jump and Moe lets you go. And then you are flying.
When you get to the end of the swing and you are about to go back towards the platform, Shawn tells you to put your legs up, so that you look like this:
Because you need to look like this when you get back to the platform:
The next time you swing out, you take your hands off the bar and reach for the bar on the other side of the nets:
Once you’ve done that, you bring your hands back up to the bar, swing your feet down, and then drop to the net below you.
My first try was interesting, to say the least. I knew that I would be sore from the Soldier Field 10 Miler (which I had run just 2 days prior). But when I first tried to put my legs up on the bar, I pulled a hamstring. Which seems ironic to me, considering my hammies were okay while I ran the 10 miles, but not okay as I’m flying on a trapeze bar.
After doing that a few times, they add another move. This time, you go through all of the steps that you know, but at the end, instead of dropping, you add some kicks. When you’re hanging straight down from the bar and you’re back near the platform, Shawn says “Forward, backward, forward”. When he says those words, you kick your feet forward, then backward, then forward. Then you let go of the bar and tuck your legs in like you’re doing a summersault. The result?
Towards the end of class, Jason climbs up on the bar on the other side of the trapeze. You climb up and do all of the same moves you did the first few times, but when you reach out towards the bar, this time Jason will catch your hands and you will drop your legs from the bar:
And then you will swing with Jason:
And when you get back to the center of the net, he will let you go and you will fall into the net (and not to your death!).
The TSNY team is awesome. As I mentioned, Moe is a total badass and started teaching because she attended so many classes that she decided to make some money at it. Jason got into trapezing because he was afraid of heights. Yes, I let the man that was afraid of heights catch me. He was also the one that explained everything so well to us at the beginning of class. Shawn was awesome and told me exactly what to do and when to do it. And he also was the one holding onto the pulley while I was flying and made me feel super safe. Both Jason and Shawn were encouraging and, at the end of each turn, would explain to you how to make your next turn even better. Photo cred goes to Dayleen…thanks for capturing me in all of my glory! I know I joke a lot about falling to my death, but I could not have felt more safe with this team. They completely knew what they were doing and were teaching some of the regular attendees some amazing moves. I can’t wait to go back!