It’s a victorious pain. The kind that results from accomplishing something more than sitting on the couch and watching The Hills reruns.
A few hours ago, I was 10 feet in the air, hanging from a rope and making my best attempt at the ‘upside-down descend,’ which is as strenuous as it sounds.
A bit off the beaten path in Germantown, Air Play Trapeze is a small brick building converted into an aerial arts studio. Owner Shana Kennedy offers five-week classes for everyone from beginners to those ready to join the traveling circus.
“I have all kinds of people come in for classes,” Kennedy said. “Everyone from college kids to adult professionals to retirees. It’s a really broad spectrum.”
The six other students in my class seem to be close to me in age. I take a look around the room at the four thick mats that will soon become my landing ground. Above them stand four thick ropes.
I’m starting to get a little nervous, but Kennedy assures me that her classes are more for fun than for training.
“Most of my students are really just here for fun and exercise. The program is much more recreational than training for the profession,” she said.
Still a bit apprehensive about the whole idea, I join the other students downstairs for a warm-up of windmill arms and stretching. That’s the easy part. Just as I’m starting to get into my groove, Kennedy interrupts with a single statement that directly relates to my current state of pain.
“Alright everyone, about halfway through your warm-up, climb the ropes two times and then go back and finish,” she said.
What’s astonishing is that I managed to do it. If only I’d been able to do this a few years ago, I might have snagged an ‘A’ in gym class.
After we’re all warmed up, Kennedy has two of her students demonstrate an eight-knot, which is best described as a knot around your foot so you can successfully stand and do fanciful moves in the air. This trick isn’t so bad, and it makes you look very elegant if you arch your back. But my arms are killing me.
Next is the previously mentioned upside-down descend, which involves climbing, flipping upside down and letting both legs hang to the side while sliding down the rope with only your left hand guiding you.
The trickiest bit about this is that you cannot figure out the difference between your left and right feet once you are upside down. And you can’t do that little trick with your hands, making an L with your pointer finger and thumb, to figure it out. You are stuck until someone points to the proper foot to release from the ropes.
The rest of class is spent on the trapeze, which is a bit more forgiving on the arms than the rope. There are three trapezes set up around the classroom, and we all take turns, sharing in our awe of how amazing everyone looks once up in the air.
We laugh when we fall and rejoice when we complete a move. By the end of class, I’m thinking about friending them all on Facebook. It’s only been an hour but the environment is so casual and fun that I could’ve kept going. Emotionally speaking, that is. I am physically dead.
The class ends with pull-ups on the trapeze. My spotter, Kennedy, inevitably ends up doing more work than I do, pushing me up closer to the bar before I fall back down again.
It made for an incredible workout. For anyone who gets bored of running the treadmill or lifting weights, this class is made for you.
“It’s an extremely challenging upper-body workout,” Kennedy said.
And although Kennedy said it’s not typically cardiovascular, I find myself stopping to catch my breath every so often. But the confidence boost you get from staring at yourself in the mirror looking like the next Cirque du Soleil star makes everything worth it.
Air Play Trapeze is located on 6122 Greene St., just off of Germantown Avenue. You can check out their Web site at airplaytrapeze.com.
Emily Freisher can be reached at email@example.com.