As a kid, did you ever think about running away with the circus? Well, I confess, I thought about it. I was into ballet, acrobatics, tap dance and jazz, and I pictured myself as a performer on a grand stage with a huge audience.
As an adult, I sometimes still wonder what it would be like if I had gone the dance or circus route. Through a little bit of searching, I found out there is a local dance and circus studio that trains students in trapeze.
At BB's Dance & Circus Arts of Tampa Bay, you can take a onetime intro to trapeze class for just $25. I grabbed a friend, and we signed up right away. My fear of heights was quickly dismissed when the studio owner Beth Brier told me the bars we would train on are only 4 feet off the ground. Sure, we could still be injured, but risk of death was minimal.
For the class I was told to wear form-fitting gear, like yoga clothes. When I arrived, I was instructed to take off my shoes and get on the mat. It was just me, my friend Meredith and the instructor, Kurt Krynski.
Krynski told me to get up on the bar feet-first. Basically this is done by holding the bar with your hands and then throwing your legs over like we used to do on the playground in grade school. Krynski had to help me get my legs over the bar.
What amazed me is how my legs trembled as they tried to hold my body up on this 3-foot bar. Using all my strength, I grabbed the ropes that held the bar and managed to pull myself up. Watching trapeze performers, you never realize how thin the bar they are sitting and swinging on is until you try to sit on it. It really hurt my bottom.
I managed to do the trick with Krynski's help, and then learned how to come down from the bar. Basically you do it the same way you get on, only backward. I got off the bar with minimal rope and bar burn. Twice more I would get on the bar with help. The third and final trick Krynski showed us proved to be too much for me. It took more strength than I was ready for, and I was in so much pain I just couldn't keep up.
Krynski helped me off the bar and then demonstrated some aerial tricks of his own. I was done for the day.
Meredith did amazingly well, but she also works out on a regular basis and is a lot more flexible than I am.
I definitely have a newfound respect for aerial and trapeze performers. Even though I was in pain and felt as though I looked like a fool, I did have a lot of fun. Needless to say, however, I don't think I'll be running away with the circus any time soon. I would love to try to get stronger and see if I could handle a few more classes. I just hope that if I take any more trapeze classes, they're private lessons!
— My First Time is a column about Ashley Grant trying new things in Tampa Bay. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.