Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trapeze School New York (in DC)

For those of you who frequent downtown DC, you may have noticed the trapeze ropes and nets set up in the Old Convention Center site just north of Metro Center. You may have even seen people swinging, catching, and flipping through the air with a few giggles mixed in. But these are not your typical Cirque du Soleil types. These are regular people who look silly in spandex and are far more comfortable with their feet on the ground. I know because last weekend I was one of them.

After opening up shop in town a couple months ago, the Trapeze School New York (TSNY), Washington, D.C. has been very busy. Despite holding 5-6 classes every day of the week, reservations must be made several weeks in advance. Say what you may about this town being a circus, but there is certainly something to be said about their slogan, "Forget Fear. Worry about the Addiction."

While I might be the one who forgets fear, J is certainly the one who will have to worry about addiction. Despite an overdeveloped distaste for clowns (and therefore the circus), she has always dreamed of doing trapeze. Because of her gymnastics background, she takes to trapeze quite easily. As for me, I'm just trying to keep up and not look stupid.

Whether you're a 5 foot former gymnast or a gangly 6 foot guy who is not particularly graceful, strong, or flexible, you'll be flying through the air in no time. And this is exactly why TSNY is so popular. Classes begin with basic safety and instruction, but quickly move on to the basics of your first trick, which is hanging by your knees from your bar and getting caught by one of the instructors swinging from the next bar. Over the next 2 hours as part of your class of about 10, you'll take to the air about 6 times. Each time you'll increase your level of comfort and competence, all while being coached and safely harnessed by TSNY's instructors.

Surprisingly, much of your success on the first day has little to do with strength, athleticism, or fear. Our group contained people of all fitness levels and body types. We even had a mother who became paralyzed with fear once she reached the 23 foot high platform. Ever watch MTV's Real World/Road Rules Challenge? Our classmate maintained her dignity far better than those girls who fall to their knees crying for any challenge involving heights, but I have little doubt that the feelings were the same. Regardless, after gentle coaching and encouragement, she had no problem performing the entire routine by the end of the class.

What I'm trying to say is that it isn't that hard. You are only told to do a few simple things and your instructors (some in yellow snakeskin tights) will be barking out commands while you're up there. It is like playing Simon Says Tarzan-style. How you're able to process it all while swinging through the air is a mystery, but you do. It is only when you are safely in the net that your brain catches up and begins processing what you just did. There is an overwhelming sense of euphoria (natural, not the drug given to Brandon Walsh by Emily Valentine) that fills your body and seems to produce a spaced-out goofy look on most people's faces as they stumble across the net.

Whatever fear that existed on the platform a few exhilarating seconds before morphs into pure joy and excitement. That is when the addiction kicks in, because all you want to do is get back up there and do it again. If that's the case for you, there are any number of tricks and advanced levels that can be learned in subsequent classes. How would I know? We bought the 10-class pack...

J Says

When I was about 10 years old, I saw a magazine article about a Club Med resort that had trapeze lessons. From that day forward I hoped and wished that one day I would get to try trapeze. I still haven't been to a Club Med, but thanks to TSNY DC, I have been on a trapeze (twice)!

I took gymnastics lessons for years and had a trampoline in my backyard as a kid. I love the feeling of flipping and flying through the air, but it's pretty hard to find ways to do that as an adult. Imagine my sheer delight when, on my way to work, I saw the trapeze rig set up in the parking lot near our house! I practically skipped the rest of the way to work and immediately went online and signed up for a class. After that first class, I was hooked. Now, I can't wait for Monday to come because I get to go back!

No comments: