Catch me if you can

It’s Friday in the RedBalloon office and there are a few sore and sorry bodies hobbling about. No, we didn’t spend a night on the town cutting up the dance floor like maniacs, we mastered the flying trapeze!

Ok, so “mastered” may be overstating it. But for two hours yesterday afternoon ten of us – Phil, Ally, Megan, Aleissa, Viv, Paul, Matt, Becca, Mel (and me) – spent an afternoon on the flying trapeze at Sydney Olympic Park with Circus Arts, a RedBalloon experience provider.

We arrived eager (and a little nervous) about what was going to unfold. The nerves increased when we saw the size and height of the trapeze and realised that soon we’d be swinging off it…

After a quick safety briefing and the fitting of our flattering “fat belts” – that’s not the official name, but their tendency to give one a muffin top cannot be overstated – we were lining up ready to monkey our way up the ladder. Our head of corporate Matt was first to take the plunge, followed by myself. I can’t speak for the rest of the RedBallooners, but this is what my experience was like…

It wasn’t until I got to the top of the ladder and stepped across to the tiny little platform that I decided to fess up and tell one of the instructors that I had a slight fear of heights (similar to the time I went to a friend’s birthday at Jamberoo, and neglected to tell anyone I had a fear of waterslides…). His solution? To tell me all about his girlfriend’s totally irrational fear of…sponges. She hates them and freaks out when one touches her. It made me wonder how she manages to do any housework and what her reaction would be watching an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. That internal wondering lasted long enough for me to forget I was about to fling myself from said piece of ply wood with only an oversized fishing net between me and what can only be described as a bindi plantation in the grass below.

Before I knew it I had a knee jammed in my lower back and a hand clinging to my “fat belt” preventing me from plummeting uncontrollably off the edge, I was clinging to the bar with sweaty palms (sorry for all those who went after me…), toes hanging over the edge waiting for the “hop” call.  Before I knew it I was swinging away like a big yellow pendulum, trying to get my legs into the appropriate position so I could let go of the bar with my hands and do a “knee hang”. It all went like clock-work and before I knew I was back safely on terra firma. Next.

One by one everyone made their way up the ladder, onto the platform, hooked onto the control ropes and off they flew. Some had more success than others, but everyone had a good old fashioned crack at it! Each time we went up the instructors added a new level of difficulty. First was the knee hang with a simple drop dismount; then a knee hang with back flip dismount; a knee hang with look back and what we’re dubbing the “superman” dismount; followed by two attempts at the mid air “catch” with one of the instructors on the other swing. That was the most daunting of all – mainly because in our briefing the instructor whose task it was to catch us kept dropping terms like “plummet”, “free-fall” and “death” into the conversation – but I think everyone agreed in the end, it was far easier (and more thrilling) than we anticipated.

After our adrenalin rush and earning our circus stripes, we all stopped for a photo op. It just isn’t a proper RedBalloon team building experience without a human pyramid – that’s me getting my man on at the bottom, second from the left. Maybe that’s why my back is aching today…

This is really hard, but I think we can find the strength for some…spirit fingers!!

Check out all the photos from the day on our Flikr page

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