Tag Archives: spiderman

Wall Running & Bungee

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When I first attacked the hobby year, I created a list of activities I could tackle. That list included everything from pole dancing to surfing-and from hip-hop dance to glass making. And while I did hit all of those things–what excited me a lot through the year was when I found hobbies that weren’t on my list–hobbies that I didn’t even know existed in and around New York City until I really started digging. These hobbies included samurai sword fighting and Jedi light saber training.

Most recently, I was introduced to another little known New York gem: Wall Running & Bungee. I have to admit–I didn’t come across this one on my own. A new friend of mine, Lauren, messaged me on Facebook asking me if I’d be up for trying this great class that involved running on walls and dancing in a bungee at a place called The Muse Brooklyn. She attached a video to the message in hopes of piquing my interest, but I didn’t even need to watch the video to know that I’d be in –it sounded awesome without the help of the video. Shortly after Lauren’s initial message, we set a date (May 1), signed up for the class, and patiently waited for our lesson to roll around.

On May 1, I showed up to the studio and watched as people stealthily climbed to the ceiling in a silks class, and I oooooed and awwwwed as others somersaulted in an acrobatics class. I have to admit, I was a little nervous for the class. The only form of acrobatics that I had really given a shot to during the hobby year was trapeze. Usually anything that involves flipping and spinning is an invitation for disaster for me, but I took a moment to mentally get my energy level up and pursue the evening with an optimistic frame of mind. I didn’t want to get to the wall and have to build up my confidence then.

Soon enough, it was time for class to begin.  Our teacher, Angela, introduced herself with a bright smile on her face and gave us the option of trying wall running or bungee first. Whichever we chose, we knew we’d have a little bit more time to dedicate to it. We opted for the wall running–because let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to spend a little more time feeling like they are Spiderman?

While Lauren and I were newbies to the class, the third woman in our class–was not. She’d been practicing wall running for a good amount of time and she was ready to jump right into a choreography she was working on for an upcoming show. I observed as she moved gracefully back and forth on the wall–like a horizontal ballerina.

“Wow,” I exclaimed. “That’s incredible.”

Before I knew it, she was starting to spin and flip.

I laughed with awe. “Are you kidding me? How freaking cool.”

“You’ll be doing that too,” Angela turned to me and said.

My confidence level was growing, but I still wasn’t sure I would be flipping. Even still, I smiled and nodded along. I appreciated her positivity.

Not before long, it was my turn to give the basics a shot. I climbed up onto the stool, and then stepped off of it. Then I rotated from my vertical initial position to a horizontal position with my feet placed on the wall and my back parallel to the ground. Slowly, I began to bounce to and from the wall. “I got this,” I thought to myself, and then I progressively got into a better rhythm. After a few minutes, Angela asked me to give the “wall running” a shot. I turned to my right,  relaxed my shoulders, and felt gravity begin to pull me down. I giggled. “This is hard, but I can do it.”

I began moving–not nearly as gracefully as the woman who’d been coming for lessons for weeks, but I was certainly moving. I felt like I was performing a scene straight out of the Matrix. As I began to feel my muscles fatigue a bit, I took a break and let my other two classmates take their second turns.

But before I knew it, it was my turn again–and this time, I was going to get to attempt to flip.

“You ready?” Angela asked.

“I think so,” I responded.

“You can do this,” She told me.

And then I gave it my best shot, pushing off my right foot, extending my left leg, and spinning through the air.  As I landed, slightly ungracefully, I started to laugh with excitement. “Oh my goodness…I did it….I just flipped through the air.”

Angela laughed along and said, “Good–now give it another shot.” And so I did–and then I did again–and then one more time. I began to feel muscles in my body that I didn’t know existed. I began to understand parts of my body that I didn’t know existed. I tested out the power in my push off foot–sometimes giving myself a little bit too much of an oomph. Not only did I feel like I was training to be in an action-packed movie, I felt like I was really beginning to understand my body–and the capabilities of my body.

After a few more flips, I returned to the stool and de-harnessed myself. “So cool,” I thought–“so cool.”

And class wasn’t even over yet….We still had harness bungee to jump into–and man did we jump into it. Angela had each of us bounce, turn, and flip within the bungee.

“I feel like Peter Pan,” I yelled!

I added, “Just think happy thoughts.”

All I needed was Tinker Bell to be throwing fairy dust all around me.

As I took my final bounce, de-clipped myself from the bungee, and climbed down the ladder, I couldn’t help but smile. And while I’m not sure that I’m ready to try out for the next Fuerza Bruta cast–or star in a Matrix remake–I do know that  having the opportunity to feel like I had the capabilities of a superhero was pretty damn awesome, and I can DEFINITELY see myself going back to The Muse Brooklyn very, very soon.

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Special Thanks
The Muse Brooklyn
32D South 1st Street
Brooklyn, NYC

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Rappelling

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While I still have a few videos to compile from the trip including hot air ballooning, snow shoeing and an end of trip flying lesson, I thought I would publish this short video clip and post.

Since returning to New York City, I’ve been on the go. I’ve been interviewing for jobs, I’ve been doing stand up, and I’ve been meeting more and more people. Let’s just say I’ve been getting back into the “swing” of things–especially with hobbies–and especially with THIS hobby.

This past Saturday, I headed out to the Hollywood Stunt School in Brooklyn where I had previously taken a high falls class and a trampoline class. However, rather than jump from a 20 foot platform or bounce around a bit, this time I took on the challenge of learning to rappel–which is defined as “the descent of a vertical surface, as a cliff or wall, by sliding down a belayed rope that is passed under one thigh and over the opposite shoulder or through a device that provides friction” (Dictionary.com). In simple terms–it means to scale the side of a wall or mountain–perhaps, like Spiderman.

I learned about the rappelling class when Bob, the owner, posted a photo of him hanging upside down on his Facebook wall.

“I want to do that!” I commented. A week later, Bob announced there was an upcoming class for rappelling. I couldn’t say no! “I want to be Spider-Libs,” I thought to myself, and so I contacted Bob via Facebook and signed myself up.

Before climbing up the ladder, our instructor told us that we would have to appear comfortable enough with the rope, on our first try, to be able to go upside down on a future try.

“I am going to go upside down,” I told my good friend Naomi, who joined me for the afternoon. “That’s why I wanted to do this…I totally am going upside down.” “I’ve rappelled down a rock climbing mountain before. I can totally do this.” My confidence bubbled as I tried to reassure myself that I was ready.

Minutes later, I was climbing to the platform we were to rappel from. And as I gripped each rung of the ladder, I suddenly realized that the last time I had rappelled down a mountain–someone was belaying for me—this time I was on my own. Suddenly the 15-20 feet from the ground felt like 60.

“Are you feeling scared, nervous, terrified at all?” My instructor asked me.

“I’ve got some nerves.”

“What do you think is bringing on those nerves?”

“Just forgot what heights feel like…But I am good. I got this,” I said trying not to appear shaky. “We go down forward first. But I definitely will get to upside down…” I peeked over the edge… “I think.”

 “I’m a tiny bit scared because it is a little higher up than I felt it would be. And I am scared because that’s what happens sometimes when we’re doing something we’ve never done before.”

“So you have respect for fear.”

Respect for fear.

I had never thought of it that way. But over the last year, I think that’s what I’ve learned to have respect for most. Fear is a driving force that allows us to reach our potential–that allows us to find out what we are truly capable of–that motivates us to do more–to be more.

“Why yes. I have a great respect for fear.” I declared.

And then I swung myself out to the wall and slowly made my way down—feet first.

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As I reached the ground, I heard the rest of the class cheering (we did this for each person who completed the task). It felt good. ‘I’m ready for round two,’ I thought to myself while I traded off my harness to the next person in line.

As we began our second rounds, Bob yelled up to the instructor to let some of the people go upside down. I watched as the first woman to try managed to put her body into the perfect inverted pirouette and effortless rappel in a straight line until she flipped back on to the ground.

I could feel my smile widening.

My turn. This time, I climbed up the ladder much more quickly. I listened to my instructor’s directions, shook off the small fears of falling out of my harness or flying into the ground head first, tightened my harness again, and then gave it a shot. Unlike the first girl to gracefully spin her web down the wall, I began literally spinning in circles.

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“Well this is interesting,” I said to myself, before safely making it back to my feet.

“How’d that feel?” asked one of the other works.

“Dizzzzzzying,” I said as I shook myself out of it. “But really, really awesome. I definitely gotta try it again.”

And so I did–this time much more gracefully.

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You can look for me in the next Spiderman movie….

Just kidding.

But you can look for me at the stunt school–I’ll definitely be going back.

Hollywood Stunts NYC
73 West St.
Brooklyn, NY

Parkour

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What is Parkour? “In the strictest sense as defined by David Belle, Parkour is the art of moving through your environment as swiftly and effectively as possible using only the human body.” –(Parkour Terminology & Definitions)

In other words? Free running–or being bad-ass and climbing walls, flipping off of buildings–or leaping over objects.

I can barely feel my legs–and I’ve still got a good five to ten minutes left in the parkour warm up.
“Everyone’s going so fast,” I say out loud, as I finish a spider crawl a good 10 seconds behind the 8 men in my class.

One of my classmates turns to me in support, “Go your own pace–this is about you getting better–don’t worry about us.” He smiles a hopeful–and helpful–grin.

We transition from backward spider crawls to front-ward hops. My body feels worn. I stop mid-way to the finish line. I hear my friend Matt begin to cheer me on. Then the other guys join in. Instead of being intimidated or embarrassed by the cheering–I breathe it in.  It’s like being back on a team again.  “I can do this,” I say to myself. “I can get to that finish line.” And I do.

After ten more minutes of warm up–some struggles–and a quick game, Matt turns to me and says, “I don’t think we are supposed to be winded after the warm up.” He’s not trying to mock me. He is tired too. Huffing and puffing, but also laughing, I nod along.

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After refueling, we head back over to the mat for the parkour portion of the class. Now, barely able to feel my legs, I try and mentally prepare myself for what’s to come. Before coming to class, I imagined them teaching us how to step off of walls and do basic jumps. I was wrong.

As Matt and I arrive back over at the mats, we realize that there is a four and a half foot vaulting box sitting in the middle of the floor. My jaw drops and I begin asking myself,  “How the hell am I — at  5′ 2″ — supposed to make it over this thing?” And now every excuse is going through my head as to why I should just stop now: “I think I hurt my legs during the warm up.” “This isn’t for me.”

I continue staring at the box–and then I make a motion as if  I am going to attempt to clear it. And then I stop myself.

My instructor watches me as I indecisively go back and forth between going for it and not going for it. He walks over to me. “Libby, part of parkour is seeing an obstacle and just figuring out how to get over it–any way possible.”

He’s right. — Of course he’s right, he’s my instructor. And naturally, as a writer, I begin comparing what he has just said to me about parkour — to life. I think about the past year and how I made my way over, under, and around all my obstacles—how I didn’t let fear stop my perseverance, dedication, or determination–how I took on fear on a number of occasions and for lack of a better term–kicked its ass. Why I am even so fearful now–at this exact moment–I’m not sure–as the worst that can really happen is that I don’t make it over the vault–in which case of course, I’d get back in line and try again.

Matt is clearing the vault in what seems like an effortless manner.

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I thank my instructor for the push–and accelerate toward the vault. Right foot up. Left hand down. Right hand down. Left foot up. Jump down.

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It doesn’t look graceful. And it’s not quite exactly what I am supposed to. But I make it over the vault and in that single moment my confidence surges from a 2 to a 7. I whisper to myself, “Don’t look at the top of the mountain Libs–look at all the parts you need to get there.”

My confidence stays high and I go to jump the vault again–this time in what feels more like one swift motion. And then again–and again–and again. Though to be honest, sometimes, it feels as though I am going in such slow motion that my parkour name could be “Freeze Frame.”
DSC00133 The others are moving quickly through the vaults–the jumps–the moves–but I am taking my time.

I remind myself that this is my first time attempting this sport and that it’s just fine that I am still getting down the basics while others are twisting and turning themselves over one–even two boxes.

With each jump, I can feel myself exponentially getting better–I can feel myself getting more comfortable with the approach, the jump, and the landing. And I can feel myself smiling as I watch the others land their trick moves–my friend Matt gain some serious air–and my instructor cheer everyone on.

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A young girl joins our class toward the end and as we are taught one last move (one that asks us to hold ourselves up on a wall spiderman style) she watches a bout of doubt appears on my face. She yells to me, “Believe in yourself.”

The doubt diminishes–and I am now overwhelmed with courage. I reach one leg out–grip my hands to wall, and lower myself into the Spideman like position. I am supposed to count to ten, but I make it to 2.5. My classmates–turned teammates–cheer.

By the time class is over, I feel exhausted. Parkour to me feels like it should be called parksore–and my legs are ready to come out from beneath me. As we go to pack up our things, my friend turns to me and thanks me for inviting him–he says that he had a lot of fun and that it was a great pick me up–for a down day. I smile and thank him for joining–for seeing what hobby hoarding is all about (Which is pushing through mental challenges–overcoming fear–mixing up daily routines–and challenging oneself).

As we walk out of the gym, I glance back at the mats and think to myself: We may not have done every move perfectly–but we did get one part of class right. We believed in ourselves.

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Photos Courtesy of Elyse Mueller
http://www.elysemueller.com

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BKLYN BEAST
bklynbeast.com

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