A few weeks ago, Groupon sent me an email about a deal they were running for “circus classes”. It was only $20 for 2 classes.
Now, I grew up in a relatively small town in West Texas, where your options for entertainment were bowling, putt-putt, or taking 2 hours for your group of six to decide which movie you want to rent at Blockbuster. So, needless to say, I’ve been in Dallas for about six years and I’m still like a dewy-eyed mooncalf when it comes to finding unique entertainment. In laymen’s terms, that means that I’ve taken a page out of Kinky Friedman’s book of “Why the Hell Not?” With very few exceptions, there’s not much I wouldn’t try.
So, I immediately emailed the groupon to all of my friends (who had a 25% chance or greater of going with me) but the truth is that I knew for a fact who would definitely come with me. I texted my friend Becca, “Just sent you an email for circus classes” and she immediately texted back something like, “Duh. When and where?”
So we made a reservation for a Thursday night Silks class. Silks are those large panels of fabric that hang from the ceiling and ballerinas wrap themselves up in them gracefully. The reservation lady told us that we need to wear “tight shirts so that they don’t flip over our heads when we’re upside down”.
Um, this was going to be awesome.
After a short mishap with a wrong address, Becca and I convened at Rogue Athletics, which is on a dark street in the shady industrial section of Addison. There were about 15 people in the class and about half were beginners. Our teacher was this cute, young enthusiastic girl who had a large scab on her chin, like she had skittered across the carpeted floor on her neck. I tried not to let that freak me out.
The hour-long class was broken up into 4 parts.
Becca and I were standing protectively by the silks that we had staked for ourselves but the teacher called us over to a spot on the mat so we could warm-up. We reluctantly went and joined the rest of the participants.
The first thing the instructor said was, “Okay, we’re going to do burpees.” If you don’t know what burpees are, they were invented by Satan and Jillian Michael’s loves them. Is that enough description for you? If the first thing they ask us to do is burpees, this might not bode well for us. Then we did planks and abs and stretching.
Then it was time for the silks! Becca and I ran over (like children) and re-claimed our blue silks.
In order to do these moves, you wrap your arms in the silks, jump, and hurl your feet at your face so that you flip over backwards until your legs are straight up in the air. Once you got the hang of that, you were supposed to slowly scissor your legs to the front and back. Once you got the hang of that, you were supposed to slide your back leg down the silk until your back was arched and you looked really cool.
I’m going to be honest. I was able to do this fairly easily. Becca and I both were a little impressed. I thought that I might actually have some natural talent at this. MAYBE I WILL JOIN THE CIRCUS!
Becca had a harder time with this one. And by harder time, I mean she got a little depressed. The instructors came running over to help her. Of course, when the French woman who was also an instructor did it, she looked like a Cirque de Soleil performer.
After we mastered (ahem) the flips, our instructor taught us how to do the “basic climb”. Really, all you have to do is picture how pirates climb ropes. It looked fairly simple.
Unfortunately, it was not simple. Any notion that I had any talent at this was quickly squashed. We spent the first 10 minutes of practicing this just swinging around the mat.
We finally decided that we needed some professional help so an instructor came over and (tried to) help us. She would wrap the fabric around our foot and then shove our knee towards our chest. Then we are supposed to jump/pull using our arms and place our other foot on top of the bottom foot. Then, we’re inch our way up by sliding our feet up the silks.
At least that’s what you’re supposed to do. Even with her holding the bottom of the silks to provide tension. We could not do this. It was impossible. We can never be pirates.
Here’s the worst part. While the nice lady was helping me, I was using every muscle in my body to try to do this. Unfortunately, I had hummus for dinner and my overexertion forced gaseous air out of my butt. That’s right. I farted, audibly, while a woman’s face was a mere 2 feet away. She was nice enough not to say anything but, after I fell off the silks this time, she did say “Great job!”, gave me a high five, and then walked away.
The advice the instructor kept giving us was, “Keep the tension”. I murmured to Becca, “The only tension I’m feeling is whether or not I’ll fart in her face again.”
So, the climbing was a disaster. I’m going to blame it on our tired muscles, including the muscle that keeps methane inside my body.
Now, she said, “This is a great one to give your muscles a break” and then she walked around tying knots in all the silks. Compared to trying to climb up a rope using tension in your feet, this was easier. Basically, you looped the silks around your back, flipped over, and then spread your feet out.
We were way into this one.
Then, the French instructor showed us some other things we could do with “the backpack” knot. You can stand on it, give your hand a flourish, and then sit down like you’re in a cocoon.
At this point, we could feel every muscle in our legs, arms, and hands. Also, our hands felt pretty raw because of all the gripping and sliding that we did. The cool down was stretching our hands out. The instructor joked, “Tomorrow, you can enjoy the soreness.”
She was not kidding.
Becca and I walked out of the building like old ladies, joking that we should quit our jobs and review Groupon experiences for a living. We parted ways and I drove home, feeling pretty good.
When I got home, however, it was game on. The soreness was worse. I dropped my phone in the driveway and Alex had to go get it for me because I couldn’t even bend over to get it.
This morning, I’ve had a hard time lifting my mug of tea to my lips. So , yeah, I would say I’m sore.
The groupon came with 2 classes and we decided that we would skip contortion and acrobatics so we’re going to do a second silks class. Alex has kindly volunteered to come and video the experience. Hopefully, I won’t fart in anyone’s face the second time around.
If you missed the Groupon, never fear. The Lonestar Circus School has reasonable prices for “drop-in” students.