I Am Not Without Fear

Runs last week:

#Chiberia strikes again! Seriously, this is getting old. While I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home on the coldest days, I was going a bit crazy cooped up in my apartment. I could cry for want of a good run on solid ground in temperate weather. It doesn’t appear that will be happening any time soon.

✧ 2.94 miles, 30 minutes – 10:12 pace
✧ 2.78 miles, 30 minutes – 10:47 pace
✧ 2.51 miles, 30 minutes, hills program – 11:57 pace

Trapeze Board

One of the comments that I typically get when I tell people I take flying trapeze classes (which is not all that often – I don’t tell many people because it seems so much like boasting) is, “Wow, you’re fearless!” Any claim I make to the contrary is brushed aside as modesty or as a belief, on their part, that I’m somehow so very different than they are. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There isn’t a time that I climb that ladder and feel my heart start to flutter in my throat, that I stand on the board and look down and don’t have to take that one deep calming breath, that I don’t, at some point, wonder why I doing this all again. But, I let go and I jump and the feeling I get flying through the air, moving my body in ways it has never known, knowing that I’m doing something I never believed possible is worth all those moments of fear.

Last week I took my sixth flying trapeze class. The rig has since moved indoors to the Broadway Armory, which is not quite as awesome as the outdoor rig on Belmont Harbor, but still so much fun. I worked on two tricks: the Penny Roll, which I worked on in my previous class (I did not write about that one here) and the Set Whip. In the Penny Roll, you hook your knees over the bar at the front end, grab high on the cables at the back end, scooch up so you’re sitting on the bar (so the bar is at your “butt-shelf,” as the instructors like to describe it), lean back, and then let go so you flip under the bar. I am not so graceful as the girl in the video I linked to above, but I’m getting there. With the Set Whip, you place the balls of your feet on the bar at the front end, extend your legs over your head at the back end, then whip your upper body out at the hup.

Knees up...

Knees up…

Grab the cables...

Grab the cables…

Scooch up… This is my favorite part of the Penny Roll. I love swinging on top of the bar like that!

Scooch up… This is my favorite part of the Penny Roll. I love swinging on top of the bar like that!

Lean back and wait for the hup.

Lean back and wait for the hup.

My whip, seen from below.

My whip, seen from below.

Both of these tricks are blind, which means you don’t get the benefit of seeing the catcher when you release off the bar. Although I was getting the tricks down during the practice runs, once it came time for catches it all fell apart.

Had I only looked up...

Had I only looked up…

“You were doing so well,” the instructor working the safety lines told me. “It’s no different when you’re doing catches. It’s the same movements.”

“I know,” I said. “I don’t know if you remember this, but the last time I took a class at Belmont, I came out of the Straddle Whip too early and the catcher hit me eye and I lost my contact…”

“And I found it in the grass! That was you!”

“Yes. So now I’m afraid. I know it’s mental, but it’s going to take me some time and practice to get over it.”

“Fair enough,” he responded.

(Of the many things I love about trapeze, at the top of the list would the fact that all of the instructors are respectful of everyone’s limitations, both mental and physical. They are incredibly patient and have never made me feel like an idiot for not being able to get something right away.)

There are many blind tricks in the repertory, so to fail to learn them would be a great detriment to my flying trapeze practice. True, I have no aspirations of running off to join Ringling Bros. or anything of that nature, but to use that as an excuse for avoiding blind tricks would be just that: an excuse, born of fear. As I make my way to being a Level 2 flyer (I got my sign-off on the assisted one-handed takeoff!), I am sure of one thing. When I do progress to Level 2 and am eligible for All Catch classes, I’m going to have to spend the majority of my time working on blind tricks. Not because I have no fear of them, but because I do.




  1. I actually got the flutters in the stomach sensation when looking at your photos. I can remember that feeling of “OMG, it’s happening!” climbing up the ladder. Truly Awesome! And congrats on your progress.

    1. Thank you! No matter how scary it all is, I never end a lesson without thinking, “More! I want more!” Crazy how that is.

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