Back when I lived in New York I worked in Tribeca and just over from my office on the Hudson River there was a trapeze school. I’m not sure I knew that just anybody could attend, but I remember seeing it and watching on walks by the river. Fast forward about 8+ years. I was preparing for Stephanie’s annual trip to Chicago and looked up fun things to do with teenagers (she’s 15 now!). I came upon a website that showed me that Trapeze School New York opened up in Chicago. Awesome. When I looked into it, though, it was kind of pricey. Enter Groupon. I had the trapeze school tab open in my web browser for more than a week, maybe two weeks, when I saw that Groupon was offering a special rate on trapeze classes. The classes still were not cheap, but it was a lot more affordable. Done and done!
So, we headed over to Belmont Harbor. The trapeze school is located just south of the harbor. You cannot miss it! I was getting really nervous the week before the class. I mean…. THE FLYING TRAPEZE!!! AHHHHHHHH! Up in the air so high, what’s holding you in, what’s really going to happen, etc. But, I must say, once we got there and saw the set up, my my mind was put at ease a little bit. We arrived a bit early and got to watch the end of a class before us. Everything seemed legit and safe.
When our class began, we each got belts fitted tightly around our midsections and were given a bit of instruction by Alex, Albia and Steve. It seemed like not very much and before I knew it, we were taking turns climbing up the ladder to the platform! I was still in AHHHHHH!!! mode! The thing is, it’s all mental. You’re harnessed in on a pulley when climbing up the ladder. When you get to the platform, you are hooked into not one, but two lines. And then there’s the net! As for the falls, or releases, there was never a freefall into the net. The lines were on a pully and Steve is a strong guy who helped regulate our falls.
Once on the platform and harnessed in, this is what happened. You walk up to the edge of the platform and put your toes on the pieces of tape on the edge. Then you hold onto the white bars with your left hand. Your left arm is out straight, stiff. You lean forward with your hips forward, your shoulders back. The coach, Alex or Albia, have a tight grip on your belt and you really have to trust them to hold you. While doing this they bring the bar forward with a hook. You grab onto it with your right hand. When they tell you, you also grab on with your left hand. When the coach yells “READY!” you bend your knees and when they say “HUT!” you jump off. They might have had to say “HUT” a few times for me to jump the first time! And I might have screamed and I may have screamed how scared I was. I’m not sure! It was all a blur. Haha.
Next steps: Steve yells from the ground “LEGS!” and you swing your legs up and tuck them in. This is easier said than done. I did not get this at all my first try. I was too busy being freaked out. My second try I didn’t get it either. Finally on my third try I got it. And on my fourth too. Steph? First try. Every try. Of course! So after you tuck your legs around the bar, you have to let go with your hands and swing from your legs. Then you get your hands back up there and pull your legs back down. Then Steve tells you when and how to dismount. If you follow his instructions, you’ll do a backflip dismount. That never quite worked out for me, but Steph, the overachiever that she is, almost did a double backflip dismount at one point. It was like 1 3/4 rotations, meaning she landed sort of on her head.
This was my first try. I did not do well because I felt like I was going to fall the whole time!
In comparison, this was Steph’s first try. Everything!
Everyone got 4 or 5 tries at this. I have to say, after my first freakout turn, I was a lot better. You get a feeling for what it will be like. I was still frightened every time, but I was able to progress and improve. I only got my legs up twice, so I practiced trying do keep doing that. Steph and others in our group advanced on to catching!
So, for catching, the students basically did nothing different. The difference was that Alex was swinging on another swing across from us. And when he said “READY!” and “HUT!” you could NOT hesitate. You had to jump or else it wouldn’t time out right. From there Alex did all the work. If you followed instruction and your hands were in position, Alex was able to grab you, pull you from your trapeze, swing you and then release. Everyone got two more turns and Steph got caught twice!
We had so much fun at trapeze school! Steph loved it so much she wanted to stay for the next class! Here’s the thing. It’s a total killer full-body work out. I was sore and bruised immediately when we were done. And so tired. And Steph, in true teen fashion, was all “I’m not sore at all! Nah nah nah!” Well… the next day….. wow. We were both so sore. I felt like I didn’t want to move! I told her to eat crow, but she didn’t know what that was. So I told her to look it up on the internet. Haha. Even Monday and Tuesday at work. At one point I started laughing and then wanted to start crying because my abs hurt that bad! haha. But it was a fun day and it was worth it!
By the way, this is Steph’s 5th visit to Chicago. Check out previous visits: