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Catch Me If You Can: Learning the Trapeze

Trapeze 260 Jpg
I was standing on a platform 23-feet above the ground, leaning over the edge. "Um, what am I doing up here?" I silently questioned as, clad in a harness belt with safety lines securely fastened, I took hold of the trapeze bar. Oh, that's right. My inner daring diva wanted a physical challenge and decided that I should swing, kick, hang, and flip while suspended in the air. Gulp... Before the smidgen of fear settled in, I received a brief lesson on a low bar by my instructor at The Trapeze School New York (the same school featured in the season six episode, "The Catch" of "Sex and the City") to simulate exactly what I would be performing in the air. So, here I was -- on deck -- with my chalky hands on the bar prepared to take flight. "Ready" my instructor, standing behind me, yelled at which point I bent my knees. Breathe in. "Hep" (trapeze-speak for go) and that was my cue to jump down and fly. Breathe out. It was in that pendulum-like moment, where my fleeting trepidation disappeared and was replaced by a surge of adrenaline and dizzying excitement. I swung back and forth a few times before I was instructed to let go of the bar and drop down onto the net. Whew! That wasn't bad at all I thought as my instructor and classmates applauded me. Once I was back on the ground, I couldn't wait for my next turn and new trick: the knee hang. This is where the real fun began. Once I was back on the bar, I swung out, lifted my legs up between my hands and over the bar, dropped my arms, extended my torso and swung upside down. During the series of swift movements, I had no time to think or panic about the aerial stunt. I was too focused on mastering the knee hang and remembering to breathe. And voil! I did it. As I returned to the floor I was overcome by the sheer thrill of my achievement. Maneuvering my body, while hanging upside down in the air made me one proud flyer. After about a half dozen times of swinging and perfecting the knee hang, my instructor told me I was ready for the catch. Uh, the what? Are you serious?! Yup, he certainly was. I thought I had reached the pinnacle of a first-timer; my instructor on the other hand thought otherwise. I was told that catching is all about timing and trust, as I watched a classmate and her catcher. Okay, I think I can do this. Once I was back on the bar, I performed a knee hang, extended my upper body, and reached back to make contact with my catcher who was on the opposite swing. His arms were outstretched, attempting to meet mine. We touch, but didn't connect. Ugh! I didn't let disappointment set in; instead I was totally pumped and determined to get caught. During my final time in the air I go through all of the motions and finally connect with my catcher. Yes! We hold each other's wrists as I release my legs from the bar and swing vertically from my catcher's arms. Hello, Cirque du Soleil! A completely new and exhilarating experience, flying trapeze was more than just my own personal circus act. It tested my physical limits, as I pushed my body to accomplish more than I originally thought was possible. Sometimes it takes new challenges to discover just how far you can go. Or how far you can fly...