Roped in to hang­ing out

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

Who­ever came up with the song lyrics, “He floats through the air with the great­est of ease” to de­scribe a trapeze artist had ob­vi­ously never tried the art them­selves.

Be­cause al­though the pros might make it look easy, it is any­thing but.

As I lie on my floor mat, deep breath­ing at the beginning of a low-fly­ing trapeze class, I won­der what I’ve got my­self into.

But the trapeze swings hang­ing from the ceil­ing above us look fairly harm­less and at half a me­tre high, not ex­actly danger­ous. Re­ally, how hard can it be? Teacher An­nie Min­ton ex­plains we’ll be us­ing mus­cles we never knew we had.

Within the first five min­utes I can see what she means – the action of hang­ing by my hands strains my back mus­cles and shoul­ders, which prob­a­bly haven’t been used since my days on the mon­key bars in the school play­ground.

Af­ter all, how of­ten do grown adults re­ally hang from things th­ese days?

We try out a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent ex­er­cises, com­ing to a seated, then stand­ing po­si­tion on the bar, then hang­ing up­side down from our knees.

An­nie’s gym­nast-like physique makes it look easy but af­ter at­tempt­ing it a cou­ple of times, I’m not sure my body is sup­posed to bend in that way.

It looks like that dream of join­ing Cirque du Soleil will have to wait.

Pretty soon though, we’ve all gained con­fi­dence and the class of women clam­ber up and down from the swings eas­ily.

The trapezes are raised to just un­der two me­tres off the ground and we prac­tise var­i­ous move­ments, swing­ing around in cir­cles and com­ing from an up­side down to a stand­ing po­si­tion.

At the end of the class I can feel the strength­en­ing and stretch­ing in a gen­tle ache in my mus­cles.

But this is not about get­ting a hard-core work­out. It’s about hav­ing fun and let­ting go of in­hi­bi­tions – with an up­per body and ab­dom­i­nal work­out thrown in as an added bonus.

There’s no doubt that swing­ing is good for the soul.

The sen­sa­tion of float­ing through the air is lib­er­at­ing and a great stress release.

Fel­low trapezer Mary Anne Ab­planalp says that’s what brought her here.

“I love play­ing on kids’ play­grounds,” she says.

“This, to me, is an adult’s play­ground. I love the sen­sa­tion and the weight­less­ness.”

The classes, which run at the Arts Ther­apy Trust build­ing in Mt Eden, are the only ones of their kind.

Teacher An­nie says al­though the con­cept of trapeze as ex­er­cise is not new, no­body in New Zealand has been teach­ing it un­til now.

“I’d al­ways wanted to do some­thing to do with the fly­ing trapeze,” she says.

Her chance came when her daugh­ter Sarah saw school hol­i­day classes sev­eral years ago.

To­gether, they still at­tend high-fly­ing trapeze classes, or cir­cus trapez­ing.

Ad­ver­tised as “play for adults”, the low-fly­ing trapeze classes prom­ise in­creased aerial move­ment vo­cab­u­lary, strength, flex­i­bil­ity, bal­ance and cre­ativ­ity while em­pha­sis­ing grace, flow and aware­ness.

She says too of­ten, as peo­ple get older, they stop do­ing any sort of move­ment and push­ing their bound­aries. Her classes are about get­ting in touch with that child­hood fear­less­ness.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing how when we’re kids we do it without bat­ting an eye­lid,” says An­nie.

A prac­ti­tioner of the Feldenkrais Method, she says the idea of trapez­ing has al­ways ap­pealed as an al­ter­na­tive way of ex­er­cis­ing both the body and the brain.

The Feldenkrais Method is an ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem that uses move­ment to teach self­aware­ness and prac­ti­tion­ers be­lieve it can have a pro­found ef­fect on peo­ple’s qual­ity of life.

Hang­ing from your arms and legs and spin­ning and turn­ing is ac­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial, she says.

“I feel that we were de­signed to move in all sorts of ways and the more we can do up­side down, the bet­ter our qual­ity of move­ment will be.

“It’s ex­actly like a nor­mal vo­cal vo­cab­u­lary.

“If you only have five words, you can get by, but the more ways you can learn to use and move your­self, the bet­ter your qual­ity of life.”

The low-fly­ing trapeze classes run ev­ery Thurs­day at the Arts Ther­apy Trust build­ing on Ed­win St in Mt Eden and cost $25 a class.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.an­niem­inton.co.nz or call 021-815-113.

Pho­tos: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Bal­anc­ing act: Re­porter Jo­ce­lyn Rein tries out the new low-fly­ing trapeze class with in­struc­tor An­nie Min­ton.

In the swing: Trapez­ing is a full body, 360 de­gree work­out.

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