Sunday, December 21, 2014

Studio Review: TSNY Boston

I've always known people who trained and/or taught at the unscalably-named Trapeze School of New York (which today exists in many cities, so it confuses people in Illinois when you tell them you're going to Trapeze School of New York in Chicago). I'd never been, partially because it's expensive and partially because they specialize in flying trapeze, which I've always declared I would never touch with a 20-foot pole. It's not a fear of heights or anything, I just have delicate shoulders that like to dislocate themselves and the dead hang used in trapeze is the worst thing I can do to them. But when I mentioned to one of my coworkers that I was an aerialist, she insisted that we try flying trapeze together.

TSNY Boston was locally famous for being located inside Jordan's Furniture in a North Shore suburb. Even people who knew nothing about circus knew about the trapeze school inside the furniture store. It would actually have been a very convenient location for me if I'd had a car, but I don't, so I never went. Just within the last few months, TSNY Boston has moved out of the furniture store and into a location right next to North Station, which is absolutely perfect for me--the train line I live and work on goes straight there!

I had sticker shock looking at the class prices--$50-60 plus a $20 registration fee--but luckily they had just started a LivingSocial deal, so we were able to get in for much less.

Here's what I was expecting the first class to be like: A lot of time warming up and doing practice exercises on the floor, practice some positions on a static trapeze, and towards the last half of class start trying simple swings from your hands or knees.

Here's what the first class was actually like: the teachers gave us some simple instructions on how to take off, they demo a sequence with multiple steps in it, and they say "Who's first?"

Fortunately we had some brave people so I was not first. I really wanted to watch the little routine a few more times before attempting it. Everyone in the class that day was a beginner (the joys of running a Living Social deal), and most people didn't get the sequence on the first try. But it's OK because you're in a harness being belayed by the instructors and the net you land into is insanely bouncy.

The routine was: Jump off, then tuck your legs in and hook your knees on the trapeze, then let go with your hands, then put your hands back on, then unhook your legs and straighten back out, then let go and fall into the net on your butt. The important thing was you had to do each thing exactly when the instructor said to do it, and they're yelling up commands while they're belaying you and the belay is making noise and the room is echoey and the instructors have accents so it can be hard to understand what they're yelling.

So um, it's really scary! And I'm not afraid of heights or anything, but you have to climb this giant foreboding ladder and then wait for them to hook you in, and there are so many things to remember, and the whole, like, "hey you're really high up, jump!" thing. I've never done skydiving or bungee jumping or anything like that.

The other thing we learned was kicking your legs back and forth to gain momentum to do a backflip off the trapeze. It was hard to get the timing of the kicking right, but the backflip itself was pretty easy (at least in the harness with the help from the belay).

So I got everything right, but after the first hour I was like, "OK I did it, mission accomplished, time to go home!" Except it's a 2-hour class. Except EXCEPT, as I was going up to do my 4th or 5th turn, one of the instructors did something to the rig and they examined it and determined they needed to work on it, so they cancelled the rest of class and had us reschedule. They said it was a totally abnormal thing to happen, and that the rig had been fine while we were using it so we were always safe, but I wasn't worried about it. Like I said, I was ready for a break anyways! And that meant we got to come back for free.

So my friend and I did come back a couple weeks later and I think I benefited from the time off in between, because it seemed easier and less scary the second time. We repeated the same sequences from the first class, and ended with a catch, which you can see in the video up top. Not bad for one and a half lessons, huh?

As for TSNY Boston's other classes, I don't know much. They had a trampoline class going on while we were there, but I never saw their other apparatuses out. I know they have silks and lyra and stuff. No pole, alas, but I'm not even sure where they'd put one considering how high the ceilings are. But anyways, there are tons of places in Boston where you can learn silks and lyra but not very many where you can learn flying trapeze. And this place was very well-organized--corporate, even--which I think is what you want when you are defying death. No brown M&Ms, right?

TSNY Boston, Boston MA
Equipment: Flying trapeze rig, static trapeze to practice moves on, trampoline, other sundry aerial equipment that I did not see
Amenities: Large reception area with couches, merch, on-site photographer (you can purchase a flash drive of your photos), locker rooms
Drop-in price: $50-60 for a 2-hour flying trapeze class plus $20 1-time registration fee

Video (of me!) by Theresa Racicot

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