I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my life, including jumping off a lot of very high places into water of questionable depth. I’m talking no frills, no fancy tricks, just run, jump feet first, and pray for the best. Sometimes it worked out fine, other times not so much. Heights are no problem for me, but being nimble and lithe from up high has never been my strong suit. Nevertheless, I always take opportunities to do amazing things from high places, so when I was asked to take part in the trapeze training class that we’ll be hosting during our Festival of Flight I jumped on it. I thought it would be a breeze. Swing back and forth a few times on a trapeze, maybe do a trick or two and go home, right? Wrong.
The first couple swings were no sweat. My colleague Yadira Galindo and I were strapped into a safety harness (which surprisingly didn’t help soothe the nerves) and instructed to swing back and forth a few times swinging our legs a certain way, and then do a back flip off the trapeze to land on the safety net. (Read Yadira’s post, Flight of a Scaredy Cat.) My first thought was: “Backflip? This isn’t going to be pretty.” Like I said, being nimble isn’t my thing. So off I jumped, trying to listen to the instructions being shouted at me and pay attention to what I was doing at the same time, and sure enough I choked and pulled off a half-backflip and landed on my head. Thankfully the safety harness and net cushioned my fall.
So I tried again, this time paying extra attention to the instructions being yelled from below and trying not to think too hard about what I was doing, and to my surprise I nailed it. Then I tried again and nailed it a second time, and so did Yadira. At this point I was thinking: “Alright, good job everyone, let’s go home.” Wrong again. Not only were we not done, but we had only just begun. We got back down, and our instructor took us over to a practice trapeze and my jaw fell flat to the floor when he demonstrated what we were going to do next. Apparently, we were about to get back up there and swing from our legs a bunch of times and link arms with someone else just like in the circus. Right…
I thought there was no way I was ever going to pull off all that stuff, especially with only about two minutes of trapeze experience under my belt. But I wasn’t about to give up, so I tried and tried again, and to my utter shock and disbelief, after the third try I actually did it! I couldn’t believe how much the instructors taught me to do in such a short time. Yadira couldn’t get her legs up on the bar every time, but she still looked like a pro before long.
It was by far one of the most adventurous things I’ve ever done, and despite the nerves, it was a ton of fun. The real payoff wasn’t the adrenaline rush, it was the sense of accomplishment I felt. Sure, it’s a rush to be up there flying around like a bird, and sure you can show your friends some awesome pictures and video of you doing incredible trapeze tricks, but it’s how you feel afterwards that’s the real reward. I recommend it to EVERYONE, regardless of age, fear, or lack of coordination. If I can do it, anyone can!
Trapeze class is for ages 5 and older. It costs $69 per person, plus Zoo admission. If you’re interested, read the information on Flying Trapeze for proper clothing, class times, and to reserve your spot as space is limited to 15 people. Enjoy!
Matt Steele is the social media planner for the San Diego Zoo. Read his previous post, A Day in the Life of a Safari Park Keeper.
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