Monday 19 April 2021
  • :
  • :

Weekend Warriors: Conquering your fear of heights by way of the Chicago Trapeze School

There’s nothing like conquering your fear of heights by way of an outdoor trapeze class

Nicole Weddington

My first thoughts: When my girlfriend went to trapeze school for her bachelorette party, I thought she was crazy. My fear of heights began about 15 years ago when I decided I would never ride a roller coaster again. I wanted to conquer my fear, and I couldn’t think of a better way than flying through the air in a controlled environment.

The experience: I was in a state of panic upon my arrival to class, but my worries subsided once I met our instructors. As Keene secured my belt tightly, he told me my life was in his hands and that I would be fine. Eric, “the catcher,” made me laugh right away by insinuating that I didn’t know how to put on my socks.

All 10 people in our group were all first-timers except for one. We were given five minutes of instruction, and then we were off.

My first jump was terrifying. After ascending to the platform, I looked at the instructor, Chris, and said, “I don’t think I can do this.” He responded, “Yes, you can. I’ve got you.” By my last jump, I didn’t want the class to end.

I left feeling… like a bad ass! I had jumped off a 23-foot-high platform, was caught by another person and flew through the air. I will never forget the pride I felt when I heard my classmates cheering for me when I was caught on that final jump after missing it the first time. I felt like I can do this, I can do anything.

The recap: Overall, the experience was amazing. I felt strong, accomplished, happy and, not surprisingly, sore. It was an excellent workout, and every time my muscles ached for days afterwards, I smiled and thought to myself, ‘I flew on a trapeze. How cool is that?’


Hilary Ward

My first thoughts: With 14 years of gymnastics under my belt, this should be a breeze. However, in a belt (attached to ropes controlled by a very strong, grounded man shouting precise directions of exactly what to do), I’m still probably going to land over in that harbor. Why must that ladder be so high? Safe to say, the start of my experience brought out my inner wimp.

The experience: The friendly instructors immediately put us newbies at ease, clearly explaining each step but wasting no time after a speedy standing drill. I was shocked to hear that our first time swinging over the netted abyss was to finish in a soaring knee hang. Can’t a girl have a second to rejoice over conquering her apparent fear of climbing tall ladders and jumping off tall platforms? It took a couple times, but then I was hooked. By the end, each student — former gymnast or not — succeeded in flipping backward into the hands of a swinging instructor at the other end. Yep, that still sounds unbelievable to me, too.

I left feeling… like the school’s slogan — “Forget fear. Worry about the addiction.” — could not be more spot-on. Overwhelmed with what I’d just accomplished mentally and physically, I wanted desperately to join the following class to see what I could achieve next.

The recap: Being pushed to take the literal and figurative jump into something I was wary of was exhilarating. Have a classmate videotape you, review it (and impress yourself), then use it to improve on your next turn. Walk away wanting more.

It’s not just two hours of trapeze experience under your belt. It’s a rewarding mental challenge like nothing else in Chicago.

Trapeze School New York: TSNY-Chicago is located at 3158 Lakefront Trail at Belmont Harbor during the warmer months and then moves inside to the Broadway Armory Park at 5917 N. Broadway. Log on to for class information.