The class Flying trapeze at Trapeze School New York in Chicago (Belmont Harbor Marina, 3158 Lakefront Trail, 773-484-8861)
The details Funny how time flies when you’re about to fling yourself from a 23-foot-high rig. I’m not sure which of the two was faster: the five-minute instructions or the actual flight. Upon arrival, I introduce myself as a terrified virgin swinger to a small, encouraging group of advanced students and TSNY staffers. As far as I can tell, the setup—a ladder, line operator and safety net—looks elementary and not very daunting. Immediately after, my shoes are off, a harness is strapped tightly around my waist and a waiver is signed. On a grassy patch, an instructor demonstrates swinging, knee-hanging and catching positions, which I’m to replicate soon in the air. The most important part, the instructor says, is listening and timing. And then it’s showtime. A safety belt is attached to my harness and I (along with my nerves) head up the narrow steel ladder onto the platform. When the operator yells, “Hep!” I bend my knees. When he shouts, “Ready!” I take a wee bunny hop…and stop short. It takes about ten minutes (maybe more) of coaxing from everyone on-site and several false starts, but eventually I grab on to the bar (which is heavier than I imagined) and swing. Unfortunately, I can’t psyche myself up to try other tricks. But I have a blast swinging and watching more experienced flyers perform splits and somersaults. Though you’re supporting your own weight while hanging, it’ll probably take more than a few sessions for this to feel like an actual workout—this class is more about emotional and mental endurance. But expect some postclass soreness in your arms and core—and a little bruising from tumbling out of the roped net. The sense of accomplishment is a great confidence booster, and despite the panic attack, I want to recapture the exhilaration from flying.
When to take it Daily; hours vary, and classes depend upon weather. Monday–Friday $22–$57 per class; Saturday, Sunday $65 per class. Visit the website for more information, including class packages.