Higher Education


Story by Lehia Apana

Maui trapeze

“I  don’t think I’m ready yet,” I whisper to my boyfriend before ascending the twenty-five-foot ladder.

“Me neither,” he mutters, erasing my last shred of confidence.

We’re at Emerald City Trapeze Arts in Lahaina, staring skyward at what looks like a jungle gym for adults. Founded four years ago in Seattle, the company launched an outdoor flying trapeze and aerial arts facility on Maui late last year, and offers classes for anyone from first-time flyers to the Flying Wallendas.

After twenty minutes of ground practice, it’s time to put our skills — and nerves — to the test. My instructor, Hoku Kirkland, beckons me towards the ladder. I chalk up my sweaty palms and up I go.

Judging by Hoku’s broad shoulders and toned arms, I fear my noodle-like limbs will fail me the moment I step off the platform. But rather than dive bomb into the net, I glide through the air like a human pendulum, using gravity to gain momentum through each swing. With natural forces doing most of the heavy lifting, remaining airborne is surprisingly easier than it looks.

In fact, everyone in the group — including an eleven-year-old girl — later agrees that the hardest part is climbing the narrow ladder to a platform the size of a diving board. That’s the exact spot where my mind went blank. The good news: Hoku was there to guide me through every detail, hollering each new move—like “Simon Says,” Tarzan-style.

“Legs up . . . hook those knees . . . hands off . . . arch your back!”

The sensation of flying through the air on a trapeze is similar to other adrenaline sports like sky diving or bungee jumping — except this time you’re the one doing the work. The first trick is elementary: hooking our knees on the bar and hanging upside-down. By the end of the two-hour session, we’re springing off the bar into the arms of an instructor.

Fear transforms into euphoria, punctuated with squeals and laughter. And that’s when the addiction kicks in, and you find yourself eagerly awaiting your next chance to fly. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. Flying trapeze classes are at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Cost is $129 for the two-hour session.

Emerald City Trapeze Arts

This business has closed.
111 Ulupono St., Lahaina (above Lahaina Gateway)


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