After years of cycling past Gorilla Circus situated at a temporary location on the outer circle of Regent’s Park, I finally managed to book myself in for a class unlike anything else. Essentially, Gorilla Circus is a flying trapeze school that teaches amateurs like me the basics of swinging through the air. And I enjoyed it so much that I’m going back for more. Here’s why I want to fly high again at Gorilla Circus this summer.
The draw of the circus
Having seen Cirque du Soleil in Paris and also watched various dance performances over the years which incorporate circus skills, I have admired these athletes from afar. The sheer dexterity and elegance of how they move effortlessly through the air, making it look so simple, it just inspires me to at least give it a go. Which is where Gorilla Circus comes in. You buckle yourself up, ascend the ladder to the platform and try to follow the instructions being blasted as you from below…Whether you’re successful or not is a different matter but once you’re over the fear of actually flying, it is really good fun.
The fear of flying
Gorilla Circus is a great class because it doesn’t give you much chance to think about the fact that you’re about to throw yourself off a platform and swing through the air. After a short but I much emphasise thorough session on safety and a quick go at hanging yourself upside down on a bar (like you used to when you were a kid), you’re onto the trapeze. The instructors do show you what to do beforehand and you think, yes, it’s all cool.
You climb the ladder, get to the top where there is another instructor ready to take your weight before you throw yourself off the platform. You think you’re ready to do it and put your feet halfway over the platform. You push lightly off the platform. And then…It’s like…I’m swinging…Oh crikey…What’s he saying below…I’m still up here…How the hell do I swing my legs?…Eek…I’m swinging still…He says let go…The safety net will catch me, won’t it?
Yep, that’s how my first swing went. I soon realised that I’m not very good at listening to instructions when swinging for the first time on a trapeze.
It’s a different type of exercise
Let’s be honest here, I spend a lot of time on my feet. Vertical, upright, moving in one direction. Trapeze couldn’t be more different. You’re swinging forwards and backwards, using the momentum to move your body into all sorts of positions. And these actions do use different groups of muscles. You don’t have to be particularly strong though to do trapeze and that’s the beauty of it. My arms did aches afterwards but most of all I felt it in my core. So I’m going back to work on this neglected area and also to perfect some of those moves.
The hardest part for me was listening to the instructions and moving my body at the same time. I guess I’m just not that great at being told what to do. While others in my class managed to perfect the catch, I was still trying to swing backwards. Something to work towards for next time.
Once you’re off, you’re off
After time though and watching others on the trapeze, your confidence builds up. You start to compute what the instructor is saying from below and are able to move your legs to the right rhythm. It is this that allows you to start doing those tricks.
When the instructor says swing your legs forwards, backwards, forwards and let go, you’re suddenly amazed that yes, you do a somersault. If right after takeoff, you use the momentum right and imagine yourself kneeing yourself in the face, you can hang off the bar in the air. It’s amazing that after just a few swings you can suddenly do all these tricks and more.
So next time I’m going to be hanging out with more confidence and I will do the catch…
Gorilla Circus is currently running temporarily at Regent’s Park and Hyde Park. To find out more and book a class, go to www.gorillacircus.com