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February 14, 2023 / by Kay / In classes

Flying trapeze FAQ

Fly is potentially one of the most fun and exciting things you’ll ever do, and it tends to be addictive – it could become your new favourite activity!

People generally achieve more than they expected in their first lesson, which gives a great sense of satisfaction.

As with everything at Aerial Edge, having a good time is the name of the game. However, people are working at many levels and some want to get to a stage where they can perform in a show – it’s all there for the taking if you fancy it. We hold regular Scratch nights where people can perform works in progress, before they gain the skills and confidence to take part in a bigger production in our space. And our fantastic team of professional teachers support you all the way.

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Q: What exactly is flying trapeze? A: Flying trapeze is where you perform tricks while holding a trapeze bar which is swinging in an arc back and forth. You then let go of the bar so that a catcher who is dangling from the ceiling can catch your arms or legs as you fly through the air (with the greatest of ease).

Q: Do I need to have experience of gymnastics or acrobatics? A: Not at all. Really, anyone can do this if they fancy it, we get people of all ages and abilities. Of course, if you’ve done anything acrobatic, it can only help.

Q: I’m 4ft 8in / 6ft 8in, am I too small / too tall? A: Nope, we got you! Big, burly men and small, seven-year-old kids go smoothly off the platform using our special (almost magical) combination of counter-balancing and safety lines.

Q: Am I too heavy? A: All the equipment in Aerial Edge has been testing for strength limits and the forces created by our acrobatics, and everything is regularly inspected to make sure it’s always up to scratch. If grizzly bears were into flying trapeze, they could do it on our rig. The only limiting factor is waist size. The biggest safety belt available is 126cm.

Q: What if I’m scared of heights? A: No problem. We get lots of people who start out like that and we’re used to managing that situation. You’ll be fine.

Q: Do I need to be super flexible? A: NoooooOoo. Not saying it won’t help you look fabulous if you can pop into beautiful splits or straddle position, but you can do plenty of tricks from the get-go. If you get into flying, there are all sorts of ways we can target your training to support your progress. Over time, you can gain as much strength and flexibility as you need for the tricks you want to perform.

Q: Do I need to be super strong? A: Again, noooooOoo. Don’t let these concerns hold you back. Some people do worry about this, and are surprised to find that they’re more than strong enough. And never underestimate the power of adrenaline! Some people fear that they will fall off the bar or let go because they haven’t got a strong enough grip, or muscle tone, but it doesn’t happen. You’ll be in safety lines which support your weight…so in fact even if you did let go, you’d be lowered to a soft landing on the mats. You’ll likely use muscles that haven’t seen action for a while, in which case they might be achy next day. Our warm-up routine targets the necessary joints and muscles so that you’re well prepared.

Q: Tricks seem complicated and I lack coordination! How will I manage? A: We make it easy for you. Your instructor will call out key words to you every time you need to move. In between calls, you only have to hold the position you find yourself in. Just follow the calls and you’ll be doing it right!

Q: Could I hurt myself? A: You’ll be in a safety harness attached to lines which are controlled by an expert with fast reaction times, what could possibly go wrong?! Of course, any physical activity can result in an accident or injury especially if you’re reckless or overstretching yourself. But we teach excitable kids and ambitious adults all the time, we’re good at risk assessment! Trust your instructor, you’re in good hands.

Q: How many goes will I get in a class? A: Depends. The classes are open level so if there are a lot of experienced flyers in the session, they’re good at making sure there’s someone on the platform itching to get off it as soon as the safety lines are delivered back from the previous person. The quicker this happens, the more goes you get. Even in a full class with lots of beginners, you’ll swing around six or seven times, so there’s a good chance for you to nail the hocks off.

Q: Can I celebrate with a flying trapeze party? A: Definitely. You can book for a 90-minute or two-hour session, usually for up to 10 people on Saturdays or from Monday to Friday during the day (before our classes begin in the evening). For more information, see our Parties FAQ. Q: Could flying trapeze be used as team-building events? A: Absolutely, it’s brilliant for that. For more information, see our Parties FAQ.

Q: What exactly will happen in my first class? A: Well hey, that depends a bit on you – whether or not you’ve got any experience with physical disciplines, your approach to life and whatnot. But here’s the routine:

  1. There’s a warm-up to ensure your muscles are all nicely prepared.
  2. Your instructor will demonstrate on a static trapeze (ie one that’s not going to swing) how to hold the bar and tuck yourself under it then hook your knees over it. That’s the first trick you’ll try on the flying trapeze, it’s called ‘hocks off’.
  3. You put on a safety harness (that’s important) then climb up a metal framework to the 3.5-metre-high platform.
  4. With safety lines attached, your instructor will counter-balance you to keep you steady as they serve the flying trapeze bar to you so that you can grab it with both hands. The fly bar is attached by long wires to a central point in the ceiling.
  5. With the instructor on the platform still holding your safety belt, you’ll hear the instructor on the ground who’s controlling the safety lines shout ‘Ready!’. It’s not a question! It means bend your knees, ready to jump. They’ll then shout the international flying trapeze command ‘Hup!’ which means ‘Go!’ You’ll hop, leap or ease yourself slowly off the platform, depending on your own personal style! Your instructor will let go of your belt when you’re off the platform, and you’ll still be held in safety lines by the teacher on the ground.
  6. You’re now swinging out in an arc to the furthest extent of the wires! Some people squeal. It’s really very exciting for the first time!
  7. At the end of the swing, you’ll be weightless and this is the perfect moment to do Part One of the trick – tuck under the bar and hook your knees over it. Your instructor will call out exactly when to do it.
  8. You’ll swing back towards the platform and at the end of that swing when you hear the instructor call, it’s time for Part Two ¬– you let go your hands.
  9. You’ll swing back to the far side dangling from your knees, shouting ‘Look, no hands’ if you want (flying trapeze often results in moments where your inner child is impetuously released). For the first couple of goes, you’ll bring your hands back to the bar, untuck your legs and be lowered slowly to the pile of crash mats using the safety lines.
  10. Part Three is the flying part. When you reach the end of the swing dangling by your knees, your instructor will shout ‘Hup!’ and you’ll straighten your legs which means you will be flying through the air until the instructor lowers you on the safety lines to ground level again.
  11. There’s more! There’s a piece of apparatus hanging from the ceiling at the far side of the swing. At some point, there will be a catcher dangling upside down from the cradle – and yes, you guessed it, they’re there to catch you when you fly towards them. Going to catch brings a massive sense of achievement and while it seems very unlikely, many people manage it in their first class. If you come to a few classes and get the hang of it (see what we did there?), you’ll learn all sorts of other tricks such as splits, layout, turnarounds. Ultimately, you’ll train towards swinging on the catcher, then performing a half-turn when they release you so that you catch the fly bar again, and swing back to dismount on the platform.

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