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Face your fears with flying trapeze

I have never been so frightened of doing something in my whole life. Entire body shaking, I slowly make my way up the cold metal ladder.

“I’m really scared! I’m not ready!” I protest, as I shuffle along the tiny platform. I realise just how high up I am when I have to put my feet partially over the ledge.

Up until now, I’ve been fairly confident in this Level 1 class with Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze School, volunteering myself first to try the trick on a low bar. But that assurance has long gone now that heights are involved.

“Grab the bar with your right hand…and now the left,” says the trainer next to me. I reluctantly obey, still trembling. “Now push your hips forwards,” she says – and I have to trust that she’ll hold on to me.

When the other trainer shouts up to me “READY” – it’s not a question – it’s a command. I bend my knees and prepare to jump off the edge.

The next order is “HUP!” which means jump NOW. I hesitate for a second, and step off the platform, clinging on to the trapeze for dear life as it swings down and up, and then backwards. Meanwhile, I let out a piercing wail of pure terror, which lasts a few oscillations.

I don’t hear the orders the trainers shout at me, even after I stop screaming. All I focus on is my heart racing, my fast breathing, and the daunting sensation of being pulled back and forth, while seeing the cavernous warehouse whiz past. It feels so high.

Eventually I remember I need to do something, so I let go and collapse into the net. The impact is minimal though, because I’m wearing a harness and the trainer is supporting my weight; falling isn’t that scary after all.

“The first is for fear, the second is for fun”

That’s what one of the trainers told me when I got back on the ground. This filled me with determination to try the trick again (and maybe even enjoy it?), now that I’d got that out of my system.

It’s psychological, after all. Once you’ve conquered the fear, you can do anything. When I got back up on the platform, I said “Let’s try again. I’m going to do this!”

And I did…

Trick 1: Leg hold 

This goes to show you can get a lot done when you focus on the task at hand. It felt so surreal, but I just followed the instructions, and somehow my legs made it up and over the trapeze. I just had to trust that the trainer (and gravity) would help me out.

You can see that I get a bit disorientated and almost bring my legs down the wrong way – I blame being upside down. It felt so unnatural.

But I got such a rush when it was over. There was also a second part to this trick involving a tuck and backflip dismount. I never managed to get my head around that one…

Trick 2: Leg hold, legs off

This was the next step to learning the final catch trick. It was quite disconcerting to be told to just “unhook your legs from the bar”, but in fact it was quite easy, especially now I’d got into it and wasn’t afraid of falling.

Trick 3: Leg hold and catch!

And there you have it – I successfully completed the catch on my first try! What a feeling. I couldn’t quite believe it when I was suddenly dangling from the trainer’s wrists.

I definitely recommend giving this a go if you want to face your own fears, or if you’re simply after your next ‘high’.

3 great things about this class

  1. Excellent trainers: They gave really clear instructions and had a healthy throw-you-in-at-the-deep-end approach. After each jump, they gave constructive feedback and were very encouraging.
  2. Lovely students: I’ve never felt so positive after a class. The more experienced students were really supportive and everyone would clap if you successfully completed a trick.
  3. An amazing, unique experience: There really is nothing like flying through the air on a trapeze. And if you get lots of videos, they serve as great mementos (and proof) of the crazy thing you’ve just done.

3 things to be prepared for

  1. Body aches: The next day I ached in places I’ve never ached before (chest, arm pits and knee pits?). As I’m writing this it’s 4 days later and I STILL ache. Make sure you warm up and warm down with some full body stretches to minimise this.
  2. Blisters: My hands were very sore afterwards and probably would have blistered if I hadn’t used chalk. I also broke the skin a bit on the back of my right knee. Bruising can also occur. But don’t let that put you off. It’s totally worth it!
  3. Getting the bug for flying: Now that I’ve progressed to Level 2, I’m already planning my next class. Highly addictive.


Yoga Panther x

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