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Taking to the Trapeze continued...

But the instructors were just so darn nice that it was hard to feel like a fool, even as they were helping a bit more than they should have had to, getting me up on the trapeze, for instance. With help -- and help, I am humbled to say, consisted of a hefty push from below by one of the young instructors, to boost me onto the bar -- there I was, five feet above the ground.

"Oh, you're doing great," said Teresa. "Nice pointed toes. Are you a dancer?"

"Are you kidding?" I asked, hanging on for dear life, my center of balance badly skewed toward my butt.

"No, really, you are doing just great. Now, lean back, pull your body up, arch . . . "

I managed some sort of pose for a split second, slipped back down, unfolded myself in a most ungainly way, and -- just like one of the juggling balls -- thudded onto the mat.

"Terrific," shouted the instructors. A smattering of applause greeted my landing.

But they couldn't fool me. Flying through the air with the greatest of ease was out of the question.

Oh, I can imagine the moves all right. When I watch my 4-year-old daughter on the monkey bars, I can still remember that great sensation of swinging hand over hand, hanging upside down by the knees. But unlike riding a bicycle, I'm sad to report, monkey-bar skills don't come back so easily.

Before I knew it, it was time for the class finale: forming a human pyramid, just like those cheerleaders on television. We learned how to stand in a good, solid squat and help someone else stand on us. We learned to climb onto a couple of classmates ourselves and jump down lightly and elegantly. And then we all did it, piling on top of each other and shouting "TA DA" at the mirror, while instructor Lisa did the splits -- effortlessly, of course -- in front of us.

Come One, Come All

Perhaps one of the best things about programs like the Circus Sports class at Crunch fitness is that little slogan they print on their literature: "No judgment." If anything, they err in the other direction, encouraging novices like me so warmly and so supportively that we might threaten to come back.

At the end of class, a fellow student who was a veteran of a couple of classes said he'd been in Las Vegas recently and had gone to see the trapeze artists at Cirque du Soleil. "What they were doing wasn't that hard," said Michael Leone, an accountant in real life. "Now that I've been here, I can see it's really just a question of putting the moves together."

Is that so? Well, maybe next time. . . .

Editor's note: Crunch no longer offers Circus Sports at their San Francisco location. Check out www.crunch.com to find out if Circus Sports is offered at a location near you.

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