Beginner’s Guide to Trapeze


After my first swing on the trapeze I was hooked. No wonder TSNY: Chicagos motto is Forget Fear. Worry about the addiction.

I found TSNY (Trapeze School New York) a couple of years ago after moving back from Los Angeles, the site of my first trapeze lesson. The thrill I felt flying the first time left me wanting more, so I was excited when I found a school here in Chicago.

While I havent done it regularly in a while, my enthusiasm for the activity has never waned. Its fun, challenging and provides a terrific sense of accomplishment upon nailing a trick. Not to mention, its a great conversation piece. I mean, who expects to hear, I took a trapeze class,when asking what you did over the weekend?

If youve been wanting to try trapeze, here are a few things to know:

You Will Be Safe

The first thing youll do in trapeze class is fasten a safety belt around your waist. After getting instructions on the ground, you will clip your belt in to a safety line before climbing the ladder to the platform. Once at the top, an instructor will greet you and transfer your belt to another set of safety lines. These lines are controlled on the ground by an instructor, who pulls a rope to help with your momentum and to catch you should you fall. Of course, there is also a safety net under you the whole time.

You Will Be Nervous

The first time I climbed the 20ft ladder, my knees were shaky, my hands were sweaty and I felt a little bit queasy. Its to be expected when you try something totally out of your comfort zone. But as soon as I jumped off the platform, a rush of adrenaline washed over me that manifested itself in a laugh/scream combo. Once I returned to the ground, I couldnt wait to get back up there and do it again.  


You Won’t Need Super Strength

Whenever I talk to someone about trapeze, they usually say the same thing: I would love to try it, but I dont have the upper body strength. I had the same worry, but as you will discover, trapeze relies heavily on timing and momentum, perhaps more so than on strength. Your thoughts will be racing, but listening to your instructorscues is the key to accomplishing your trick.

You Will Perform A Knee Hang

The first trick you will attempt is the Knee Hang. While flying through the air, youll be prompted to swing your legs up, hook your knees over the bar and hang from it like youre a kid on the monkey bars. Youll practice this a few times before attempting a catch, which involves clasping hands with an instructor swinging upside down on a trapeze towards you. Youll dangle from his/her hands before landing into the safety net.

You Will Feel It

The last time I took a class, my chest and upper arms were sore for almost a week. You can also expect bruises on your legs and callouses on your hands. Explaining your battle scars is half the fun of trying new things though, isnt it?

You Will Want To Do It Again

Well, most of you will. While the majority of people Ive taken classes with succeed at the knee hang, I have seen a few fail to complete it and at least one who was too afraid to even jump off the platform. However, those first timers who make the attempt, usually come off the net with a huge smile on their faces. If you become hooked, there are drop-in classes all week long to take advantage of. TSNY: Chicago also offers IFWs (Intensive Flying Workshops), which are roughly 10-week sessions in which you can build your repertoire of tricks with the same instructors each time. At the end of your IFW you can even star in your own show (complete with a theme and costumes) for friends and family.


TSNY: Chicago holds year round classes at Broadway Armory Park (5917 N Broadway) in Edgewater. They also offer outdoor sessions at South Belmont Harbor (3158 Lakefront Trail) during the warmer months.

Other TSNY locations include Boston, Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C.

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About Lori Wilson

After moving away from her hometown, just outside of Detroit, Lori has done her best to stay out of her former constantly-working-to-make-ends-meet rut. Having lived in Los Angeles, Chicago and Denver, Lori began her writing career covering soap operas. While she will always keep track of the latest returns from the dead on “General Hospital,” she now focuses her writing on fun ways to stay happy, fit and out of the house. Recent adventures have led to her love of indoor cycling, getting pampered at the spa and her new favorite city New Orleans. A Midwestern girl at heart, Lori is back in Chicago, where she continues her quest to top the thrill she felt her first time on the trapeze.