For my final Malibu #BestSummerEver adventure I learnt the death-defying art of flying trapeze in Manhattan. You know, just casually.
And so when I knew I was headed to the Big Apple I was absolutely set on learning to fly myself. Despite my love of rock climbing I’m not the biggest fan of heights, but hey, that’s what blindly putting your trust into a safety net is for, right? And just think of the Instagram bragging rights.
My easily persuaded friend Bobby and I turned up at Trapeze School New York on a sunny Saturday morning. The school is on top of a warehouse at Pier 40 on the Hudson river- you head up in a big, clanky elevator and emerge out onto a huge roof with a view that takes in the gleaming Manhattan skyline, boats bobbing about on the water and the far off Statue of Liberty sunning herself. And there’s a hefty trapeze suspended very high above a safety net. Cue shaky hands.
Our group had a friendly, matter-of-fact instructor with really great hair called Ray. There was no messing around or much time to get nervous with Ray – he ran us through how to jump correctly on solid ground and then had each of us chalk up our hands and climb the Ladder of Doom to the platform. From here you’re attached to a safety harness and you’re ready to go.
The first step of flying trapeze is the scariest, and you aren’t even in the air – you have to lean far, far out and grab hold of the trapeze, which feels incredibly counterintuitive, like you’ll just fall off onto the net in a sad ball. But when you’ve got a death grip on the bar your body is in the right position for the moment of truth – hopping off, straightening out your body into an arch and letting the trapeze do the work, swinging you back and forth. Then you dismount (i.e fall, inelegantly) onto the surprisingly comfortable safety net.
After I lived through my first attempt all of my fear evaporated, and trapezing became pure pleasure – there’s an immense high involved in swooping weightlessly about in the sky. For the next few hours we learned to hook our legs up onto the bar and lean backwards, then progressed to dismounting the bar with a backflip (which is a LOT easier than it sounds).
The last hour of the session was reserved for learning a catch, although if you’re a beginner it’s more about learning how to be caught. Instructor Evan climbed up onto the other trapeze and swung about upside down, ready to reach out and grab us by the wrists as we leaned back on our own trapeze. Bobby went first and made it look easy, of course.
The first time I tried to let Evan catch me I failed miserably and completely missed his hands, but on my second attempt, with more determination than gymnastic skill, I managed to reach out backwards properly and he swung me off my trapeze. I think I’m still coming down from the high.
We had a beginner lesson at Trapeze School New York (they’re also in Washington, Boston, Chicago and LA), which costs from $50.
Follow the rest of my #BestSummerEver bucket list!