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I Tried the Trapeze for the First Time

I tried the Trapeze for the first time—Here’s what happened.

The Twin Cities Trapeze Center in St. Paul offers a variety of “circus” classes, including dance, trampoline, and silks. TC2’s specialty, however, is the flying trapeze. They teach classes, host parties, and offer anyone who wants the opportunity to do some high flying. Last week, the SEEK Team here at St. Kate’s hosted a trip down to TC2 for a lesson. I thought it sounded both crazy and intriguing, so I signed up.



Our Introduction and Warm-Up

The first thing we saw when we walked in was a sign that read "Danger, Men Flying". Oh, the irony. All five of us Katies signed liability waivers, and were introduced to our instructors, Katie, Taylor, and Russell.

We started with stretches, and then we were given a quick rundown on safety guidelines. All five of us were fitted with safety belts and taught the basic commands and the sequence we'd be doing. While still on the ground, we practiced grabbing the bar, prepping, and jumping off the platform.

After learning the correct way to jump off the platform, the instructors had us practice how to wrap our knees over the bar and let go with our hands to reach out, as in the picture below. 

My First Jumps

One at a time we were allowed to climb the ladder to the trapeze platform, get hooked up to the safety lines, and prep to jump.

My first jump was terrifying! I wasn’t able to get my knees up over the bar on my first go, which was disappointing to me. After my first jump, Instructor Russell, on the ground gave me a few tips. The trick with trapeze is that if you’re patient, physics will do all the work for you. There’s a moment at the peak of your swing arc when you become “weightless”. At that moment, anything you want to do becomes much easier.

My second swing went much better than the first one. I successfully hooked my knees over the bar and let go with my hands. I was hanging completely upside-down! What a rush! I think I actually screamed a bit as I was swinging.


The Backflip and a Life Lesson

Right after I came down from my second jump, Russell told me I was ready to learn the backflip. I was skeptical, but the commands were simple. Toes together, back arched. Kick forward, backward, forward and tuck into a ball, letting go of the bar. The backflip was easier than I’d expected! Instructor Taylor called out the commands so we could get the timing right, and Instructor Katie held our safety lines taut, to control our spinning and keep us safe.

I think all of us Katies were a little buzzed from adrenaline. We were picking up the skills at different rates and no one was doing it perfectly. After a couple more jumps and making a few mistakes, Russell rounded us up and told us something pretty inspirational. He doesn’t teach people who know how to fly, he teaches people who don’t.

When he said that, I had an epiphany: we’re supposed to make mistakes, because we’ve never done this before! But there’s no way we’d be up there trying if they didn’t think we could succeed. I’ve had that epiphany about other things in my life, but it had never felt as vivid as it did in that moment; it was incredibly uplifting.



The Partner Grab

For our final trick of the day, our instructor Russell would swing on a second trapeze, and we would swing towards him, reach with our arms, grab him…and let go of our own bar. What?! Just like we’d practiced on the ground, we’d hang by our knees, arch our backs, and hold our hands straight out in front of us so Russell could “catch” us.

I legitimately thought this was nuts. But I climbed up the ladder, hooked into the safety lines, and prepared to jump. Russell, on the other swing, was calling my commands so our swings would be synchronized.

And I did it! Maybe not gracefully, but I did it!

Reflection and Wrap-Up

It’s been a week since my first trapeze, and I’m still feeling the buzz. I was surprised at how easy it was to do, physically. Like I said before, if you time your moves right, physics does the work for you. Psychologically, however, overcoming your body’s natural protective instincts is a challenge. Every day of our lives, we are taught not to jump off of 30-foot-tall platforms, so when a safe and fun opportunity to do so arises it’s difficult to convince your brain that it’s okay.

A fair warning: Flying on the Trapeze is pretty rough on your hands. I had a couple of callouses and some raw spots on my palms, and a minor rope burn on my wrist. Not a big deal to me; I thought my battle scars were pretty cool! My shoulders, upper arms, and abs were also sore for a few days afterwards.

I would encourage anyone who gets the opportunity to try the Trapeze to go for it! You won’t regret it! I already can’t wait for another opportunity to go again!


Natalie Nation is a second-year Dietetics major at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. She enjoys swing dancing, Netflix, American Sign Language, and the color purple. Natalie has her own food and recipe blog at cutecollegecook.com.
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