Last week I returned to the trapeze rig for the first time in over a year. It was a thrilling confirmation that I can still do activities I like to do, even with an infant. Thanks to my fabulous husband for being a highly participatory dad.
I opted to spend the lesson working on getting my swing going again. Head trapeze artist Russell suggested that I try a new trick– a full-time straight jump– that requires focusing on the timing of the swing. By the end of the lesson, things were clicking and Russell was able to catch me on my very first attempt.
Today I returned to the rig, sore hands and sore body. I continued to practice my swing, making a few technical, body-position changes, and it started to feel so much better. I moved on to the straight jump, and that trick started to feel much more natural. (Well, as natural as it can feel to hurtle yourself at another person while you’re both high above the earth.) I was ready to try the catch.
In two attempts, I was able to touch hands with the catcher Kenny. But I was not able to complete the catch. This is where I remind myself that it is the catcher’s responsibility to catch me. And, just like in life, you can put all kinds of preparation into a project, but ultimately we rarely have full control.
As much as I want to be caught every time, I’m choosing to focus on the improvements I made today. I’m also reveling in how good it feels to do something for myself, apart from my family commitments. And while I may be more sore than I wish I was post-lesson, taking time for myself to do something physically and mentally engaging reminds me that I can, in fact, continue to take on new challenges.
Last Sunday, I had the joy of watching one of my oldest and best friends take her first trapeze lesson. M was a willing participant, but she admitted to me on the drive to the Trapeze Experience rig that she was a bit nervous. She was in good hands, though, as our facilitators Russell, Spencer, and Gary are fantastic with new flyers. While M took her ground lesson, I headed up to the platform to being my swing and layout practice.
M struggled a bit on her first attempt at the knee hang, but by her third try she had it perfect. Shortly thereafter, Gary climbed up into the catchtrap, and the next thing M knew she had successfully completed her first mid-air transfer on the flying trapeze! It was so exciting for her; it was also exciting for me, though, to see her feel the thrill of flying. After several other successful catches, M learned a new trick on her very first day.
To make the experience even better, our class was the final session at which “Uncle Tony” Steele was facilitating. A legend in the trapeze world, Uncle Tony has been flying since he was a child. He is the greatest living trapeze artist, having trained people from everyday folks like me to circus performers to celebrities to stuntpeople. Uncle Tony told some pretty corny jokes, but his enthusiasm for trapeze– and sharing his knowledge with others– was infectious. It was also pretty amazing to see him, at age 74, still throw a double back flip.
My lesson for the day came not so much in my work on the trapeze– it was a rather poor day for me, actually– but in my head and heart. From M I learned how fulfilling it can be to watch someone learn something new. Certainly I get that lesson regularly from my kids, but to see an adult tackle a new challenge is equally rewarding. And to see Uncle Tony still doing what he loves with such grace and power and fun is inspirational. It was a full body-mind sense of happiness, completeness, and exhaustion at the end of the lesson.
Is there anything better than sharing something you love with someone you love? I think not.
My favorite benefit of trapeze training — other than the sheer thrill of a fantastic workout– is the people whom I have met. One of these people, Dr. Laura Faulkner, began her trapeze lessons just after I did. She, too, was going through a career change, leaving a prestigious university position to become an independent consultant. She, too, found that trapeze teaches lessons that extend far beyond the rig.
Laura created a forum for sharing her experiences and lessons learned from her career change. She asked if I would come share my story. After all, how *did* I decide to make the move from the academic world of architectural history to the seemingly unrelated world of personal training? I’m going to tell my story today! You might be surprised to find out that these two worlds have quite a lot of overlap. I love to teach, and I’ve always been committed to working with passion.
Come join us for the whole story, and meet others who are going through career transitions as well.
- New Creation Career Group
- Genuine Joe’s Coffee House- “The Cellar”, 2001 W. Anderson Ln.
- Monday, June 1st from 1.30-2.30pm, networking to follow
Trapeze season has come to a close for me. Although the awesome Trapeze Experience guys will be down at the rig through Saturday, due to work and family schedules I’ve taken my last flight of the 2009 Spring Season.
Let me begin by saying that I am only baby steps closer to polishing my trapeze skills than I was six lessons ago, but in a sport that can never really be mastered, baby steps are exciting. Also, I believe trapeze is a positive experience, so rather than dwell on the many, many places I can improve, I want to review what I’ve done well this season.
- My Swing. Wow. So! Much! Better! I am better able to maintain my height for longer, and I don’t get nearly as tired each flight. Becoming more efficient makes swinging way easier.
- Back End Tricks. They’re improving. I still can’t confidently do the back-end splits to a catch, but my straddle whip is feeling really good.
- Layout. Possibly the most fun trick I’ve tried. It’s all in the timing, and I can finally feel the ‘stall’ that is critical to catching the layout reliably.
- Recovery Time. I stretched better before each class, and I implemented my own post-class stretching routine. By doing so, my recovery time has shortened to almost nothing. I’m now beginning to understand how a 5-day intensive workshop could be really, really fun.
Between now and September, I have two trapeze-related goals to achieve: 1) I’m going to continue the strength training routine I’ve developed to keep my shoulders and lats strong. 2) I’m also going to do the monkey bars at the playground with The Bear to keep my hands in shape. I have some lovely callouses worked up, and it would be a shame to have to break in my hands again in the fall.
My thanks to Russell, Spencer, and Charlie for their patience with me this season. I appreciate your constructive criticism and friendliness. If everyone had as much passion about their work as you guys, the world would be a better place.
And although this isn’t the world’s most beautiful layout, it sure was fun.
We all do it. Even those of us who try to live conscious, positive lives. It is such a part of our society that we often don’t even realize we’re doing it until someone calls us on it.
Last week I was at my trapeze lesson, and after climbing the ladder I was atop the platform awaiting help to attach the harness cables. I was chatting with one of my instructors, telling her about how my recent lessons had been exercises in frustration. After making initial progress learning the trapeze quite quickly, I’d seemed to have hit a wall. She encouraged me to think positively, focus on what I was doing correctly, and realize that trapeze is a subtle yet complicated art and sport to master.
When I got down to the ground after fairly successfully completing my trick, I heard two of my classmates talking. They, too, were discussing the learning curve of trapeze– which is surprisingly shallow at first–and how it’s only after your confidence is built up that you start to learn the swing and other ‘back end’ tricks that bring your progress to a screetching halt. We were sharing stories of frustration, reveling in our common misery. As we talked, we became more and more critical ourselves and the skills we were practicing.
Another instructor heard our whining and asked why we were being so self-critical. After all, hadn’t we all just begun learning trapeze a few months ago? Couldn’t we see how much we had learned? Why weren’t we embracing the power and creativity and freedom and just plain fun that trapeze is? Certainly we should strive to improve our skills, but how was the negative self-talk helping anything?
It wasn’t. And I’m now working hard to banish it. Fun is far more important than perfection.
After a big event like the half marathon, I like to take time to rest. This period of rest allows my body to recharge after months of focused training, and it allows my mind to reframe my priorities. At the end of the rest, I enjoy a renewed sense of purpose and store of energy.
I took a full week off of running. I might ordinarily only rest 4 or 5 days, but I was still feeling the effects of my bike crash, and I felt I needed to make sure I was healed. I began my workouts slowly, consciously feeling my muscles working and being mindfully grateful for their strength and power. It certainly helps that the weather has been lovely of late, and breathing deeply and running through spring breezes is nourishing.
I can’t lie– I’ve had a busier than normal past few weeks. The Bear’s Kindergarten year is wrapping up, and it seems there are now homework and activities and special presentations that require my attention and assistance. The Husband has been travelling two out of the last three weeks, and while that means more work on the home front for me, it also means The Monkey is quite needy. Add into the mix that I am working my old contract job right now as well, and I’m feeling pretty pressed. The rest period came at a most opportune time, as I needed to be able to reframe my priorities and reset the balance in my life.
To that end, I have interviewed and hired a new babysitter who will work a few hours a week now through the summer. That will give me focused time to work on my clients’ programs and maintian good communication with them. I also took a trapeze lesson this week; while carving two precious hours out of a jam-packed schedule took some higher math to achieve, I walked away feeling confident, capable, physically powerful, and happy. Also, I’ve spent some time with my fabrics and patterns and have a long list of sewing projects that await my attention– whenever the mood strikes.
I now feel ready to take on the next few weeks and months. This is a busy time of year for us. We’ve entered birthday season; and mother’s day/father’s day and anniversary season, too; we have six weeks until the end of school. But I feel ready. I’m rested, recharged, and ready to go.