Twenty five – Trapeze

Is it just me or do I seem to be really bad at everything I blog about? I feel like this blog should be about a graceful “blogger” who tries things and is amazing at them, rather than myself who seems to fall flat on my face pretty often.

Previously I would have meant this metaphorically but this is, literally, what happened at trapeze. I grazed my ENTIRE face.

Face grazing hell
Face grazing hell

I trapezed with my friend Eleisha, who earlier in the blog I did Laughter Yoga with. This was her 30th birthday gift from me and I booked us both in with a company called Gorilla Circus, who run classes in Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. I wasn’t too worried before we got there, but when I saw the height of the thing I was a bit dubious! It was a lot taller than expected!

Tall trapeze!
Tall trapeze!
Our names were put on a board in the order we were going to trapeze in. Then we headed over to a swing with mat under it in order to have a practice. They explained what was going to happen in a very matter of fact way, and quite quickly. Like “do this, put your legs here, look at your knees, let go, look over here”. I later discovered that this was because no matter how much practise and theory you do, it will be totally different in the air!!!

After they explained it we all had a practise getting into position on this bar near the ground. The position is basically holding on with one hand, with your toes over the edge of the platform, and then holding on with the other hand when you’re ready. You’re held from a band on your waist by a staff member, and you’re strapped in with hoists etc with a safety net below you. You need to hold on and lean in a straight line over the edge, keeping your arms and body straight. When they tell you, you bend your knees and jump off!

Eleisha on the low bar
Eleisha on the low bar

There were a lot of staff there – two at the bottom of the trapeze and two on the platform so I felt ok at this point, like we were really well looked after. Plus they made it sound so simple!

When it was my turn I climbed up the ladder and I started to feel really scared. I was nervous climbing up and when I stood on the platform with my toes over, holding on with both hands I was genuinely petrified.

Me, terrified.
Me, terrified.
I do not have good grip anyway. I can’t do monkey bars and when I was really young I was on a zip wire in a park and let go half way down, landing flat on my back. Clinging on is just not something I’m great at! I did mention this and they said I’d be ok but…

Ok, so I’m standing on the edge of a platform and they tell me to go. I don’t, because I’m terrified, and they say it again. So I jump, but I bend my arms and almost try to pull myself up to the bar. This is not good, as the momentum is what actually pulls you – not your strength.

And so I literally crashed down, face first into the net and slid along it. At first I laughed, but as I went to get off everyone was like “oh my god, are you ok?” “Your face!” And I burst into tears 🙈 There was a lot of adrenaline!!! 

Honestly, it was awful. My face was bleeding and bright red where I’d slid along the ropes. I’d also bashed up both hands – bending my little finger the wrong way and grazing my wrists.

This was not ideal.

I watched everyone else, who had varying degrees of success and a few falls, but no disastrous crashing and burning like myself.

Then it was round two. I went back up, and was bloody petrified. After I had came off the first time one of the girls took me to one side and ran through the technique again. Then the girls at the top gave me extra chalk and ways to hold my hands to give them more grip. I so nearly didn’t go back up, and even when I was up there in position I was freaking out saying I couldn’t do it.

But then I did!!!

Me - actually swinging and not on my face!
Me – actually swinging and not on my face!

I mean, I didn’t exactly do what we were meant to (which, incidentally, was to put your knees up over the bar, let go with your hands, swing a bit and come back up, then backward roll off the bar). But I jumped properly, swung a bit, tried and failed to get my knees up, and jumped down safely. 

Hurrah!

I was SO chuffed and everyone was very sweet and gave me a big round of applause.

I didn’t really get any better than this, but I was ok with that for now. As someone who had been there for a while said, at least I got back on the horse. He said he’d seen many people go up the ladder and come straight back down!

If you were one of those who’d done really well during the class and perfectly timed everything you got to try and do a catch. This is like what you see in the circus, where someone went onto another bar and tried to catch you. This someone was one of the instructors, and there were only about two or three people who got to try this as it can be dangerous if you’re not well timed.

If you nail this, you can move up to level two.

Here are some pictures of people absolutely smashing it throughout the class (some of these are folks at a higher level):


Although I didn’t get to this point I was so proud that I’d managed to get to a place where I could let go, swing and dismount. And now I have some confidence that I can do it without breaking my face (again) I might go back for another go.

Honestly, everything about this was nothing to do with strength, or flexibility, or anything like that really. If you perfectly timed everything and did it exactly as the instructors told you (without wimping out and making mistakes!), you’d do it.

And if you ever get the opportunity, you definitely should!

You can book in with Gorilla Circus by visiting them here.

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