Each year, instead of creating a mere list of resolutions, I create a manifesto. Since my manifesto contains aspirations for a more complete life most items remain and new ones are added year after year.
One mainstay on the list is “Conquer your fears” and “Do” instead of “Watch”. Well, this weekend I did just that with a little help from my supportive BF. To combat a fear of heights I’ve challenged myself to test my boundaries and try new experiences to lessen this fear. I’ve gone skiing (the chairlift was a particular source of unease for me), flown in an open cockpit bi-plane, and recently taken up aerial yoga.
Saturday, I did something I’ve always thought incredible, yet never imagined I would ever have an opportunity (or desire!) to do: I took flying trapeze lessons. (Cue the circus music!)
The Flying Trapeze School in Bayfront Park, Miami offers an all abilities 2-hour class that teaches you basics: the knee hang, back flip somersault, and if you are ready, an attempted catch with one of their certified instructors at the end of the class.
As excited as I was to learn to swing, I was engulfed by an ocean of fear at, of all things, climbing up the ladder to the platform. My heart racing and irrational thoughts whizzing through my mind- I almost admitted defeat before I was even 10 feet off the ground. (NOTE: The FTS is very safety oriented and you are strapped into a harness the entire time.) Glancing over at my BF who gave me an encouraging smile, my stubbornness alone got me up the ladder to the platform.
On the platform, I was met with another flood of menacing thoughts; What if I slip off the platform? Is it possible to bounce off the net? What happens if I immediately lose grip of the fly bar? Are those carabineers locked in tight? Does this harness make me look too “hippy”? I hope he gets a good photo!
Back to reality… Chalked hands – check. Bent knees – check. Hips forward – check. Gripped fly bar – check. Ok…. Jump! Wait. Ok… Jump! – check!!!!
Wow, I’m flying! Or, soaring? Or… whatever, but I am doing it! I did not let go of the fly bar, and am on the trapeze just like a Cirque du Soleil performer, only with MUCH less makeup and sparkly spandex.
Now what was I supposed to do again? Listen. Yes. Listen to the instructor. Ok, legs up! Now I bend my knees, lean backwards and hook my knees over the bar (theoretically). I missed it the first time. I was confused that “legs up” meant knees up and over the bar, but (spoiler alert) I got it on my second try. After your legs go over and your knees grip the fly bar (make sure it’s r-e-a-l-l-y tight!) you drop your hands, arch your back and swing backwards stretching your hands out to an imaginary partner. The next move involves a complete reverse, where you return your hands to grip the bar, unfold your legs and return to hanging position.
Finally the swing is completed with a somersault. To achieve this best you kick forward-backward-forward in one position, drop the bar, grip your knees and tumble onto the mat.
After roughly 6 turns practicing these moves you graduate into attempting a catch. How it works: The catcher swings on a separate fly bar towards the flyer. Once the flyer after grips the fly bar with their knees and swing backwards they outstretch their arms and are caught just below the wrists by the catcher. Next the flyer unlocks their knees, comes apart from their fly bar and is soaring over the net held by the catcher until they release and drop to the net.
Unfortunately for this flyer, it was not meant to be. I grasped fingertips with the catcher, remained on my fly bar and somersaulted to the net. My ever-so-talented BF, looking able to run away and join the circus tomorrow, completed 2 perfect catches. I am so proud!
Overall, it was an exciting, heart-pounding, fear-obliterating day for the both of us. (Seems BF had a secret fear of heights too!) If you are looking for an excellent way to conquer your fears, bond with a loved one, or step outside of your comfort zone (and off a platform), the flying trapeze is an excellent option. We’ll be back and maybe we’ll see you there.
Disclaimer: No Foodies were harmed during this event.