Primal Activities: Trapeze!!!

I visited my friend Juliann a few weeks back, and when I heard there was a trapeze class there, I knew we had to do it. Talk about functional fitness! Think of it as a more graceful mimicking of tree climbing and swinging.

Hi Jules! Mind the gap!

I never had trouble with heights as a kid, but when you’re climbing 30 feet up a narrow ladder with hurty bolts underfoot and the Arizona sun in your eyes? Yikes. We were belayed in, but not until you get to the top of the ladder and step over the abyss onto the platform. From there, you never get a chance to be scared. You’re too busy flying.

You hold onto a rope behind you and reach for the bar with the other. Then, you wait for the call, and—here’s where it gets tough—you have to JUMP off the platform and THEN grab the bar with your other hand. That’s right. Jump first, grab later. It took everything I had to override millions of years of human programming to do it, an experience I’ve only ever felt with scuba diving.

So now you’re flying through the air, and at the top of the first swing, they yell at you to get your knees up to your chest and they have to be hooked around the bar at the top of the backswing. Then you release your hands and hang upside-down. Then you grab the bar again and release your legs. Then, using some serious abs, you kick both legs in front, then back, then forward and you tuck your knees to your chest and do a backflip onto the net. Easy enough, right?

Then repeat about eight times. Ow. You start developing chafed and sore parts, namely for most of us either behind the knees at the top of the calf or blisters on the hands. You’re working muscles that sleep most every other day of your life. Now I understand why people have those weird hand gripper resistance training devices.

See? We survived. Trapeze is fun!

On top of that, you have so much adrenaline pulsing through your veins, it’s hard to hear the commands they’re shouting at you. Main dude told me he had to call out repeatedly to get me to release my hands, but for my part, I only heard him once. When you finally extract yourself from the net and land back on terra firma, you’re shaking uncontrollably. And you can’t wait to get up there again.

As you can see from the video, it took several tries to put it all together. At the end, if you’re nailing the timing, they let you do a catch with another class instructor. It’s the coolest thing to swing out, upside-down, feel someone grab your hands and say to you, “I’ve got you.” I was one of two people in the class who was able to re-grab the bar after the catch, an awesome feeling. I turned and the bar was just magically there. Watching the video, it’s clear to me now how important all that timing is.

Everything—except quads, hamstrings, and biceps—was sore for about a week. Hands, forearms, lats, pecs, abs (!), calves. I was at the playground with my daughter a week-and-a-half later, thinking I was all healed, and tried to pull myself up on some equipment and it felt like my abs were ripping. It’s a fantastic workout and one of the best lessons in just letting go and finding a flow beyond intellectual capability.

So if you’re in the Phoenix, AZ area and want to give it a try, check out Trapeze U. There are others nationwide, click here for a list.


One Response to “Primal Activities: Trapeze!!!”

  1. One of the most fun activities I’ve ever done. SO glad you got a chance to do this. Also, Julez cut her hair! Looks great!

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