“Just drop your arms down and hang.” Dear lord, how do they do this one hundred feet high, and with an audience? This thought is whizzing through my mind as I drape barely three feet off the ground, above a large mat with knees clenched tightly over a trapeze bar, arms pendant beside my head. “Keep your toes tight, legs together and pointed down”, advises Jennifer, an expert at aerial acrobats at Taking Flight in Dublin’s Chocolate Factory.
The yoga warm-up allows for deep stretching, a raised heartbeat and prepares the body for conditioning which is necessary for the core and arms – key limbs for this activity. Having only ever played on plastic trapeze bars attached to swing sets in friends’ houses, I’m excited to be taught by a professional.
Picturing myself flying through the air like Antoinette Concello – the first lady trapeze to accomplish the death-defying triple somersault, and having a track record of being a bit of a ‘Bambi’, I half-wonder if I should have an ambulance on standby outside.
Once limbered up, Jennifer shows us the importance of engaging and disengaging shoulders. We pull them together and down, exercises called shrugs which get the joints used to fighting off gravity.
Now for the fun part – I wrap my hands around the trapeze bar as if holding motorbike handles, let my body dangle and then slowly raise my knees outside my elbows, straighten my legs to a wide V shape, lengthen my arms as I tip backwards and balance there with hips close to arms. Oh yes, there’s those stomach muscles working. Next up, Pike pose. It’s actually nothing like a fish as knees are brought parallel above the face with toes pointed elegantly outwards as if about to do a tumble. Then with one leg straight and sliding over the bar, hands grabbing the rope higher I lever myself onto the bar. Ta-da, I’m up! Comfort wouldn’t come to mind, but it’s certainly exhilarating.
Taking a moment to perch, I watch in awe at the skilled Verticals class taking place beside me. The guys and girls are notably strong as they climb and swirl through the colourful fabric with grace and ease. It’s suggested to try the Supports class first to gauge strength and fear factor.
After a few attempts to master the bar, it’s time for the hoop. The round frame allows for various moves with feet, leg-wrapping and arm extensions. I’m mesmerised at how effortless Jennifer makes it look while my Man in the Moon probably looked like something from another planet. Then again, practice makes perfect and she does own her own trapeze equipment in another space.
While I might not quit my job for the circus just yet, thankfully paramedics weren’t necessary, only a swig of water. It’s definitely a workout with a difference, with sore arms two days later as proof. I wonder how long it would take to be able to do this?…
One hour and a half class costs €25 for drop-ins or from €70 for a four-week term. takingflight.ie