Confronting the Abyss at Trapeze School New York

Marcy flying at New York Trapeze School video still

“Advice from a veteran trapeze performer: Throw your heart over the bars and your body will follow.” — Unknown

Harness on, I looked out from the rooftop trapeze school toward Manhattan’s Freedom Tower and gave a half-hearted acknowledgment when my group was asked if anyone was afraid of heights.

Was I still? I’d gone zip lining, rappelling, cliff jumping. I’d arrived an hour early and watched the end of the previous trapeze class, and I secretly was thinking, “Yeah, I got this.”

Trapeze School New York

Then I was faced with the ladder. I climbed it as a three-year-old climbs the stairs. Left foot up, rest with legs together. Left foot up, rest with legs together. The ladder swayed back and forth, and my confidence swayed with it. I started in on the internal monologue: “I wanna go back down. I’m so stupid. Why do I get myself into these situations? Oh yeah, my list.”

I made it to the top and got even more scared when the ladder ran out. I awkwardly crawled onto the board on my knees. The instructor on top only glanced at me for half a second before stating the obvious: “You’re nervous, huh?”

She unhooked me from the ladder safety line and hooked me into the trapeze safety lines.

My heart pounded, and, for this part, my memories take on a cottony, sluggish quality. Did I place my ten toes over the board, legs shoulder width apart, as I had just practiced down below? I evidently had.

The scariest bit was still to come.

Holding onto a ladder with my left hand, I had to lean into the abyss, hips and chest forward, and reach as far as I could to grab a metal bar — the trapeze — with my right hand. It was surprisingly heavy and tried to pull me off the platform.

Marcy on board at Trapeze School New York

The instructor held me from behind, so I wouldn’t go over until ready, and even if I did, I was hooked into two safety lines with a safety net below. I felt completely sure of my safety, and yet, the fear, the instinctual certainty that I should not be thrusting my hips forward over a drop… You can’t argue with that.

I did it, though.

I stepped off, what technically should have been a small jump, and swung forward, flying on a trapeze. I bungled my attempt to hook my legs over the bar, as several of the beginners did, and before I knew it I had followed the command to let go and sit down, down, down into the safety net. Breathing hard, I crawled over to the edge and somersaulted off the net onto solid footing once again.

Marcy flying collage New York Trapeze School

The instructor gave me some tips, the most basic of which was “breathe.” I hadn’t realized I had been holding my breath the whole time.

I never did master the tricks, but I climbed that ladder again, leg over leg, and stepped into the abyss with hips forward, breathing, and thinking, “Yeah, I got this.”

And then I was free to spend the rest of the day in Manhattan with my husband, exhausted from adrenaline, and glad that the fun was over so that I could relax and enjoy myself.

Marcy on the ground again Trapeze School New York

A brief video:(Video link)

Planet Trapeze School #littleplanetPlanet Trapeze School, a little planet photo

  101 things button
#8 (101 things in 1001 days): Take a trapeze class.

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.

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38 Responses to Confronting the Abyss at Trapeze School New York

  1. angel011 says:

    “glad that the fun was over so that I could relax and enjoy myself” — Love that part! Congrats on the trapeze school lesson, sounds like something I’d love to do (while freaking out 😆 ).

    • Marcy says:

      Thanks! I think I would like to try it again, thinking I would be over the scariest part and could work more on the skills.

  2. Rae Hilhorst says:

    I am in absolute awe of you. xxx Rae

    • Marcy says:

      You wouldn’t be if you saw me messing up the “knee over the bar” trick, but thanks. I was really psyched that I got back up there again. 🙂

  3. Wow!
    I am afraid of heights, so this is not something I’ve been dying to try. Hurray for you for overcoming your fears.
    It seems weird that this was outdoors. I suppose it makes sense since it requires a lot of space, but what would have happened if the weather was bad?

  4. Tomekha says:

    Congrats! Quite an adventurous one you are! Trapeze school, cliff jumping, rappelling…I’m about that life! 🙂

    • Marcy says:

      I seem to have saved my scary challenges from my 101 things list for the end. Whoops. Give it a try if you can! It was really fun to try (aside from the heights).

  5. Katie says:

    You are my hero!!! I’m freaked out just looking at the pictures. 🙂

  6. Christina says:

    good for you but holy crap!

  7. mamarific says:

    That is so cool! I like the thought of this, but I’m not sure I could go through with it. Must have been quite freeing to know you did it.

    • Marcy says:

      It felt great, but I was glad it was over. I would like to do it again and feel less afraid and be able to work on the skills.

  8. You’re awesome! I love your spirit! I watched people doing this, and my knees started to feel weak. I was brave enough to continue reading your post though, and you took me right along with you.Great writing. I was scared, but I stuck by ya. And that’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing the real thing.

  9. mistyslaws says:

    That’s pretty cool. I would love to do something like that, not being afraid of heights and all. The only problem is, while I’m not afraid of heights, I AM afraid of falling off of those heights, so not sure I would be down with the whole “drop off this platform holding a metal rod” thing. Plus, my arm strength is non-existant. Maybe better to watch braver souls like yourself do it. Congrats!

    • Marcy says:

      I was worried about my arms, but it didn’t turn out to be hard to hold on. I did find it hard to try to bring my legs up, but I think I screwed up on the timing more than anything else. Thanks!

  10. Oh my gosh, you are so brave! I’m not particularly afraid of heights unless there is the possibility of falling, so yeah, that ladder would’ve done me in. I applaud your courage!
    And that video was great! 🙂

  11. amazing!! so fun!! go you!!

  12. Whoa! That sounds so fun, but I would be terrified, too!

  13. The Cutter says:

    Looks like fun. Congrats on doing it!

  14. Ok now this is mad cool.. I wanna do it 🙂 Congrats on following it thru 🙂

  15. Esther says:

    That sounds like so much fun! It’s awesome that you overcame your fears (again and again) to knock another thing off your list. I hope you are feeling like a badass 😉

  16. I think I forgot to breathe until you reminded me…wow!

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