If you’ve ever thought, “I want to quit my job and join the circus” the new I. FLY at the Phoenician in Phoenix could be your ticket to the Big Top.
Now through the end of April, the New York based I. FLY will teach you how to fly high above the grounds of the Phoenician during 90-minute group classes. I recently put my fear of heights aside and tried it out myself.
We had four instructors to three students during my session so the personal attention was strong. The four guys were friendly, funny, laid-back and safety conscious—my kind of men! Joining me on my adventure were two local 13-year-olds. During an overview of what we would be doing the girls were overtly nervous. Me ,I was trying to play it cool #fakingit.
The beginner trapeze move required us to scale a ladder that seemed not so tall until you were on it. In fact none of the equipment seemed so far up in the air until you were up there as well. Gulp.
Safety starts from the get go as you’re even harnessed to a system to keep you from falling if you slip on the ladder. At the top, one of the instructors hooks your safety belt into the system that will keep you safe throughout your flying session. And of course there is a large net you ultimately dismount into that would catch you during any mishap as well. Seriously, between the harnesses, the net and another I.FLY instructor controlling me through the safety system, this was probably safer than my drive to the Phoenician. Yet, 25 feet up in the air all my irrational fears flooded into my brain and I thought “what the @#$% am I doing. I am going to die! “
But the writer can’t wuss out so I attempted to jut my hips out, throw my toes over the edge and grab the trapeze. One hand on. Ok I’ve got this. Wait, let go of the pole with my other hand and grab the bar so my body is on what feels (it isn’t) like a 45-degree angle over the ledge? Ummm, can I change my mind and wuss?
With both hands on the bar the instructor gives the “Ready” command. I bend my knees. Then I hear “Hep” the call to jump off the ledge like you’re jumping into a pool. Here we go.
WEEEEEEEEEEEEE, I’m flying. Exhilarating, terrifying.
On the second swing the instructor calls out knees, which is the point where I am to tuck my knees to my chest and then hook my legs over the bar and let go (Whattttttt) with my hands.
Not going to lie. On my first try I fail miserably. The instructor later pointed out that I tried to do the maneuver with straight legs. Those of you better at physics will understand why this didn’t work. I get it right on my second (yes, I went back and did it again) pass. With my legs securely wrapped on the bar, I arch back and fly.
WEEEEEEEEEE. Still exhilarating. Still terrifying.
To dismount we’re supposed to do a backflip. Yep, you read that right, Now it’s been too many years since I was a gymnast and I’m not sure my body has any Mary Lou Retton left in it. The instructors assure our group that when you swing your legs forward, back and then forward again and let go of the bar the only way your body can go is into a backflip. It takes me three passes on the bar before I feel comfortable enough to try it, but eventually I back flip off feeling like I just scored a rare 10 from the Russian judge.
All right. I’m ready to go out on a high note, but alas there is more. The Catch.
The catch. Sounds ominous. It’s exactly what you’re thinking it is. Two people on two trapeze start off the move and you end with one person grabbing the other off their trapeze and swinging them in the air.
In actuality, this move is the easier of the two, because it relies 100% on the instructor. All I have to do is get into position with my legs on the bar and have my arms out ready for him to grab.
WEEEEEEEEEEEE. Total exhilaration and no terror.
Now don’t think you need to be in Travel Diet shape, or move like Gumby to do this, you don’t. I. FLY has students as young as four and as old as 84. There is also no weight limit to fly. The safety system can hold up to 1,000 pounds.
The teens with me went from nervous to loving it in one jump. Personally, I think the activity is easier for kids because they often don’t have the irrational, learned fear that seems to grow through the years, and because they don’t overthink things. Part of my original problem was I was putting too much thought into each move rather than just doing it.
If you want to see I.FLY I action before you try it, there are complimentary shows where you can see the instructors and some of their long-term students (you can take an 8-week session here as well) perform. The shows are slated for March 11, March 25 and April 8 at 7 pm.
The cost of the 90-minute flying session is $70 and can be booked by calling (480) 599-2345, or by visiting www.iflytrapeze.com. Classes are held Tuesday-Sunday. Wear exercise pants, not shorts and ladies, a tight fitting shirt because when you’re upside down flying your shirt will ride up!