Friday, November 12, 2010

New York Trapeze School

Call me crazy, but I decided to go to trapeze school yesterday. And I had the most fabulously exhilarating everyone-should-try-it time! Let me explain. My brave friends, Erin and Rachael agreed to accompany me to a silks class at the New York Trapeze School. For those of you that don't know, silks are basically two long pieces of silk that hang from the ceiling with which you climb, wrap yourself, and make pretty pictures. Sounds easier than swinging on a trapeze, right? Not so much. But just as fun.

Rachael and I took the ferry to the city (see Jan 3 blog) and walked to the school on 30th between 10th and 11th. Now, this area is the odd industrial go-there-only-to-get-your-car-fixed-or-park-your-sanitation-vehicle part of Manhattan. As we walked, I began to get a little concerned. We were going to a random building to swing from the ceiling with strangers in THIS neighborhood? We arrived and realized: it wasn't even a building. In between buildings, a large white circus-like tent had been set up with port-a-johns outside. Uh-oh, I thought. We rounded the corner and were met with a view of people literally swinging from the top of the tent (a good 3 stories high). Well, at least we had found the right place. 

We entered the office in front of the swinging people and signed up with the young buff-looking receptionist. "I'll bet he swings from the ceiling", I thought. Then I looked around the room. The tent housed all of the activities that were offered by the NY Trapeze school . . . and they were all happening at once. There was a group of people sitting on the left cheering their trapeze classmates as they flipped in the air, a couple dancer-like women toward the back doing splits on the silks about two stories off the ground, a young girl at a lower trapeze on the right practicing some sort of pike move, and a random guy in the back corner juggling bowling pins. All the while, loud house music provided a steadily energetic underlying beat. I felt a rush of excitement. This place was wonderful!

After changing and signing the obligatory waiver, we met our teacher, Kristin. Kristin was a petite young woman with curly dark brown hair and bright eyes. She welcomed us, offered to teach us a warm-up, and immediately put us all at ease. "Nah, we're fine. We're all dancers", I answered. Little did I know that my dance training would provide little to no help with the task at hand. Kristin smiled and showed us the first move. Remember that rope in gym class with the knots on it that you had to climb up? This was exactly what she wanted us to do. Without the knots. On silk. It seemed impossible, but Kristin climbed up the 30 feet to the top of the rope (in rhythm with the house music, to boot!). The idea was that you wrap the silk around a foot, step on top of the other foot, and pull yourself up with your arms to do it all over again. Ha! Easier said than done. None of us got more than a foot off the ground on the first try. And within five minutes, my triceps and forearms were BURNING! How was I going to get though an hour of this? Fortunately on the second try, I was hooked. I wrapped, stepped, and pulled until I couldn't do so anymore. I looked to my side and saw the trapeze. "That's funny, I had remembered seeing that above my head," I thought. Then I looked down. OMG. How did I get this high? How do I get down? Why is that mat below me so small? Then I heard Erin and Rachael below me cheering. Hey, I did it! I followed Kristin's instructions and slid down one hand at a time. I felt like a little kid just off the ferris wheel. "Again, please! Again!".

Over the next hour, we learned more and more complicated moves. We learned to wrap our feet when we were in the air and hang upside down from them (I wasn't so good at that one), we learned to do a wrist wrap, kick our feet over our heads, and balance with our legs in different positions (apparently, I'm also pretty bad at discerning my right from left upside down), and we learned a foot wrap (my favorite because it didn't use too much upper body strength and I could do the splits in the air afterward). I don't think I've ever done anything that was SO difficult and so fun at the same time. Kristin made it look so easy, but when you are hanging by your feet in the air and you have to climb back up your body to right yourself before you can get back down to earth, you inevitably need a little muscle (or a lot). Erin, Rachael, and I took turns encouraging each other, laughing at each other, and taking pictures. We were all obviously absolute beginners with every pose, but we actually caught on quickly and could at least do one or two things by the end of the hour. Kristin was patient and encouraging and agreed at the end of the class to show us some advanced moves (see pic). It was gorgeous! I wanted to jump up and down. This is SO cool! We hugged her, thanked her, and went to straight to the front desk to sign up for more classes. I immediately couldn't wait to get back on those silks!

So, if you're ever wondering where I am on a Friday at 4:45, I'm at silks class with my friends . . . getting buff triceps.

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