Getting into the swing

PHOTO: Getting into the swing

Bodies fly through the air effortlessly.

No, the circus hasn't come to town.

But a bit of its death-defying magic can be found on Sentosa, where The Flying Trapeze has been since 2003.

But you don't have to be a trained acrobat to defy gravity. All you need is adrenaline, a fat dose of courage and some quick training to start moving through the air almost 8m - more than two storeys - off the ground.

When The New Paper on Sunday visited, Jamaican tourist Noah Coley, 10, was gleefully swinging from the ropes and bars.

"If you're afraid, why do you want to go twice? To conquer your fear?" his mother yells up at him, incredulous, as he scampers up to take his second swing.

He starts off gripping the trapeze bar with both hands, then manages to lift his legs, hooking them onto the bar.

He pinches the back of his knees tightand, suspended upside-down in the air, he shoots a devilish thumbs up at his mother.

Later, on the ground, Noah beams: "I should run away and join the circus. Then I can do this every day."

The flying trapeze

Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort brought The Flying Trapeze to Singapore in December 2003. It's the only one of its kind here.

The Flying Trapeze says it has both local and international flyers and attracts close to 1,000 would-be acrobats a month, with particularly heavy traffic during the weekends and public holidays.

Mr Alan See, the recreation manager, says the attraction is sometimes booked for private functions - usually kids' parties.

"Once in a while, we see people like bachelors, wanting to do something exciting before committing themselves," says the 39-year-old with a smile.

Mr See was performing and coaching at the Club Med circus school for 13 years before he joined The Flying Trapeze in 2003. Most of the staff are also trained professionals who have worked in other flying trapeze schools around the world, he says.

Getting started

Getting started

Before you're given a go on the actual trapeze, the staff will give you a short training session on the practice bar - which is a stationary bar just 2.2m above the ground.

There, they teach you the most basic move - the knee hang, which sends a rush of blood to the head.

Then, there is the long climb up the ladder to a wooden platform 7.5m up in the air. There's a safety net below you, and a harness attached to a safety line cinched around your waist.

A staff member calmly talks you through how to position yourself to get ready for the swing. When he gives the word, you bend your knees and lean forward.

The next moment, you're whizzing through the air, the world a blur around you.

More advanced flyers sign up for hour-long lessons and do moves like splits in mid-air, or even somersaults.

Anyone, says Mr See, can be an acrobat.

"You'd be surprised at what you can do," he says.

"It's all about physics. It's about momentum."

The Flying Trapeze sees a lot of kids - some so small they need to be lifted to touch the 2.2m-high practice bar.

"Kids are fearless," says Mr See.

"As we grow up, we start thinking too much and second-guessing ourselves."

"But kids love it. It's like a dream come true for them."

The Flying Trapeze Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort 101 Siloso Road Sentosa

Attire: T-shirt. Pants or shorts (no skirts allowed). Harness will be provided. Footwear and glasses need to be taken offOpening hours: Mon-Fri: 2.30 pm to 6.30 pm. Sat, Sun and public holidays: 2.30 pm to 7.00 pmRestrictions: Not open to children below 4 years old, and expectant mothers. Price: 1 swing for $10; 3 swings for $20; 1-hour lesson for $45

This article was first published in The New Paper.