Friday, December 15, 2006

Doing Stuff: Day 15, Trapeze Lessons by Matt Holmes

The website said to work out for a few days before the class, push-ups and sit-ups and stretching. I did not do that, and I really wish I had. I also, unwisely, had some heavy soup for lunch and dinner that day, and I probably should've brought some bottled water. I could've drunk a whole gallon after the full-body workout in the hour and a half that seemed like a full day.

My experience with taking a trapeze class was unusual, fun, challenging, and a little intimidating. Most of the class was cute, little young women who could apparently bench press a linebacker. These women were up and down ropes, hanging and flipping around, and doing complicated maneuvers with names like Back Angel Pose and Schwarzenneger Descend. Their upper-body strength was impressive, as was the coordination to do all the cool-looking tricks. One older woman, who reminded me of a friend's mom, was half my size and had biceps bigger than I think I'll ever achieve. Everyone was so welcoming and supportive, though, which really was necessary for me to last more than ten minutes.

The first thing they had me do was climb the rope, a la gym class. I'm pretty sure I was never able to do that in gym class, and I surprised myself by struggling and getting about three-quarters of the way to the ceiling. Not only do you have to hold yourself up on the rope, you have to wrap it around your foot and stand on it. As it got more advanced, you have to do more and more complicated things with the rope, so it's like climbing a rope and then tying knots with your feet, something I couldn't do with my hands in cub scouts.

I think I used up all my strength in the first attempt to climb, so I sort of just rested and breathed heavily until it was time to start the trapeze, which was thankfully easier. I learned how to hold onto a bar hanging from ropes from the ceiling, flip my legs up, hang from my knees, climb up and sit on the bar, stand on it, lean into a one-legged pose, wrap my ankles around each side, and hang upside-down flipped around. I really can't believe I did it. It was really cool, and I wish I could've seen it.

Everyone who I mentioned this project to immediately had concern about me falling or breaking my back. I was never more than maybe ten feet off the ground, I was always over a big mat, and I never felt unsafe, even hanging upside-down just from my legs.

We ended with the hardest part of the whole thing, strength and conditioning training. This was to work the elbows and knees, and they were worked! I got back up on the trapeze and hanged from my knees while someone held one leg down and I lifted the other knee up. I was essentially hanging from one knee, and it hurt so bad that I literally was almost crying. For time constraints, we didn't do the elbows; thank God. Then we did pull-ups, with someone helping by pushing your legs up a little. I couldn't do any without help at this point. Then we did hanging-upside-down-from-your-legs-sit-ups. I can't believe I did ten.

At the end of the class, I was exhausted and sore. Everyone else chipperly left as I sweatily yearned to lie down. I left the place with my whole body twitching and a rush of endorphins or adrenaline or something in my head. I guess I'd never really ever exercised enough to get that before. Afterwards, my hands were red and burned. I went home and held cold things for a while. I slept like a log, except when I woke up in the middle of the night and peed for ten minutes. I was so thirsty afterwards.

It was pretty emasculating, but I'm used to that, and they were very accommodating to my astonishing inferiority. My foot got pretty scratched up from the rope, my pants got tugged down as I climbed and shimmied, and my shirt kept falling down as I was flipping or hanging upside-down. They recommend wearing "long leggings" but I think some kind of footie pajama outfit would be best. I guess that's why guys in Cirque du Soleil wear those tights with suspenders.

I also kind of feel like I accomplished something. Maybe next I'll find a club for running a mile in less than fourteen minutes or a peg-board association.

I got an amazing work-out and did some pretty cool tricks. I'd consider going back and maybe also trying some of the unicycle and juggling stuff that they also do there. It was pretty cool and a very professional place.

Now I'm going to go lie down.


Blogger Lou said...

"It was pretty emasculating, but I'm used to that, and they were very accommodating to my astonishing inferiority"

This is one of the best sentences I've read in a long, long time. From anyone.

8:20 AM  

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