As someone who continually commutes to work with The Greatest Showman soundtrack, I was overjoyed when I found out that I could try trapeze like my ultimate girl crush, Zendaya. The opportunity was too great to pass up.
Trapeze School New York offers two hour trapeze classes, with the goosebump-inducing slogan “forget fear, worry about addiction.” Which, when leaping off a two story platform, is easier said than done.
TSNY has locations in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles. During the warm months, Chicago classes are held outdoors at Foster Beach, but during inclement weather or winter, they have an indoor facility. In addition to trapeze, TSNY offers trampoline and other aerial classes.
I was lucky enough to go on a sunny Sunday afternoon and enjoyed sweeping views of Lake Michigan in the background.
For the trapeze class, it is recommended you wear tight-fitting athletic clothes with pants that are longer than the knees. Prepare to wear your hair up and leave jewelry at home. You will need socks, but not shoes.
The two hour classes have a cap at 10 people, but for my class there were only five of us. I was the only newbie, which was a bit nerve-wracking and I do recommend dragging a friend along. Most of my classmates and instructors found TSNY through Groupon, so be sure to keep an eye on deals. Our small class size gave us more turns and shorter recovery periods. If you go to a full class, expect to take six turns on the trapeze.
To begin, you are strapped into a tight belt. This is what the safety lines attach to, both for climbing up to the platform and for the actually flying portion. It is uncomfortably tight, making me regret eating brunch at The Smith beforehand.
Then my instructor, Claire, took me over to the practice mat to go over proper launch procedure. She modeled proper form – left hand holding a wire, hips jutted forward, tall posture, right hand extended to grab the bar – and gave some instructions of what I’d be doing. The belayer instructor also calls out audible commands so you don’t have to retain that much information. After practicing on a mat that is less than a foot off the ground, it was time to try two stories (23 feet) in the air.
I do not have a fear of heights. But it turns out, I have a fear of leaving heights. Climbing to the platform was a bit nerve wracking, but ultimately okay. It was standing on the platform, being instructed to jump that I could not get used to. The instructor on the platform calls “ready” and you bend your knees, and “hep” which is the signal to jump. No matter how many times I went, I needed at least two of these to psych myself up into letting go.
Luckily, the instructors have a lot of experience dealing with those who have a fear of heights, or jumping, and are great coaches. I was reminded it was totally fine to just swing and drop down, or not do any of the tricks. My first two swings, that’s exactly what I did. I just swung back and forth and held on to the bar for dear life. My class was very supportive and encouraging, pushing me to try again or try to add on to the trick each time. They were also more than willing to take photos and videos.
In your first class, you will learn how to do a knee hang, backflip out of a knee hang, and knee hang catch, which is where an instructor will catch you from an opposing trapeze. If that all sounds out of your wheelhouse, you’re not alone. I was overwhelmed with the idea of doing a backflip, it seemed almost laughable. But the instructors break each move down into bite sized pieces while building up your confidence.
Your hands can get a little sore, so be prepared to moisturize in the following days.
As class wound down, it was time to try a catch with Claire. She ascended the other trapeze and swung back and forth. On her command, I jumped. Working off the belayer commands, I hung upside down by my knees and arched my back. Claire grabbed my wrists, and I let go of the bar, swinging by her hands, before she dropped me to the net below.
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It was exhilarating. While I can’t imagine switching from spin classes to exclusively trapeze classes, it was a great and rewarding class. I’d definitely go again.
The Bitches Say: Four Sweat Drops.
This is an exhilarating, fun class. Your abs and arms will be sore for days afterward, but the memories (and Instagrams) will last forever.