Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Back-up Career Path: Running off to join the Circus

As some of you may know, I took a class on Circus Arts last night at NY Circus Arts, which as it turns out, is the East Coast’s largest circus school. Not only do they have classes for fun, but they train real circus professionals too (think Cirque du Solei). How cool is that?

The night was the start of 3 new experiences for me. Firstly, it was my first time using, a website that I HIGHLY recommend. It harnesses the power of group discounts, which are typically huge, and allows you to use their site to get a group discount for an activity by buying vouchers through their site and then having a bunch of other strangers buy a “groupon” for the same thing. The group discount is with a bunch of people you don’t know, and you don’t have to deal with the annoyance of going places in large numbers. It’s really a fantastic concept. They have groupons for salons, restaurants, fitness classes, beauty treatments that are often discounted more that 50%.

Second, it was my first time visiting Long Island City. I had heard how cute and easy to access this area of Queens is from friends, but never had a reason to visit until last night. It really was! It’s only one stop on the 7 from Grand Central (for anyone else who mostly sticks to Manhattan like me and didn’t already know this). And, the main strip on Vernon Boulevard is adorable. It had a diner, a wine bar, a pub, bodegas, a bagel shop, and a bunch of cute little stores, along with a fantastic view of Manhattan.

Thirdly, it was my first time practicing any circus arts. They say you learn something new everyday, well yesterday I learned 3 new things. Not bad for a Tuesday evening.

I took an Introduction to Circus Arts class. It is typically $45 a class, but with my groupon, I scored this training for a cool $25 for 2 hours of instruction. I was mostly in it for the trapeze, but we learned a lot of other fun stuff too! I’ll give you the highlights. We bounced on a professional level trampoline, which spoiler alert, is MUCH more bouncy than your typical trampoline and then bounced into this giant pit/air cushion. SO FUN. We learned how to balance people on our thighs by counter-weighting them with our own body. We went in this awesome flipping machine you are harnessed into so you can do flips with your whole body stretched out without being scared of hurting yourself. We did headstands, tumbling, and juggling…

Then we got to the really awesome stuff, the aerial stunts. We didn’t do much exciting on the trapeze (tear) except learn how to grip it properly and flex your shoulders so they don't fly out of their sockets when you swing on it. Then we learned how to swing using our hips and not our legs so we don't break the momentum while swinging. My only negative comment about the class was not enough trapeze! Though I decided I'm DEFINITELY going back to take a flying trapeze class sometime which looks scary, but awesome.

My favorite activity was the ribbon, which was two large pieces of fabric hanging from the ceiling tied in a slip knot at the bottom. Think Pink’s performance at the Grammy’s this year. You stand with your arms in a T and then fold at the elbows and grab each ribbon about a fist-width above your head. Then pull your arms in so they are in front of your chest and it lifts you off the ground. Once you’re airborne you bring your legs up into circus “straddle” position (more commonly known as total spread eagle) and use your abs to pull your legs (still spread out) up towards your chest and flip over. The ribbon creates a little harness for your hips and you can dangle upside down and let go of the ribbons if you are daring. You can see my pure upside down joy in the photo above.

One thing to note, you will be sore the next day from exerting all the weird muscles you don’t normally use. My advice, it’s totally worth it.

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