Off the 8’s: Achieving balance on the trapeze

WASHINGTON — Working in a newsroom is a lot like a circus. It’s a noisy, bustling place, staffed by individuals who can be funny and ferocious — sometimes both.

Whether you’re editing, anchoring, writing or reporting, at some point in your day, you end up juggling several tasks at once. And regardless of everything else, the show must go on … literally 24/7, as is the case at WTOP.

So how do I relax after a crazy day under the big top at WTOP?

I run away and join the circus.

While most young adults settle in to watch a movie, meet friends for a drink or have dinner at a local restaurant after work, I spend quite a few of my evenings hanging upside-down on a trapeze bar.

What was once an activity reserved for Club Med vacations or sleep-away summer camps is now available to the average “Joe” in dozens of cities across the country, including D.C.

This past Friday, I left work and went down to D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood in Southeast to perform in a triple trapeze act, as part of a student and staff showcase at Trapeze School New York (TSNY) D.C. And it was fantastic.

Those who knew me as a child are not all that surprised to hear me say, “Oh, I can’t do dinner on Wednesday; I have trapeze class.”

I was a gymnast as a kid, and frankly have a general inability to sit still for long periods of time. I’ve done other adventurous things, such as zip-lining, bungee jumping and skydiving — all voluntarily.

Those who meet me as an adult, or in a more professional setting such as the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center, seem shocked, and usually pelt me with questions.


Trapeze works your arms, your abs and even some muscles you never knew you had — until you wake up sore the next day. (Courtesy Rich Riggins)


“Are you serious!?”

“You mean like trapeze, like a circus?!”

“Like Cirque de Soleil?!?”

The answers to these questions are, “Yes,” “Yes” and “Well, sorta, but the pros are a heck of a lot better than I am!”

Then, someone suggested it would be a great topic for an article.

Trapeze: Therapy, Trust and Facing Fears

So, Why do I do it?

It’s how I de-stress.

For some, jumping off a 23-foot platform and hanging from a bar attached to two long cables would cause a great deal of anxiety.

For me, it does the opposite.

Initially, my heart races — but it’s out of excitement. First-timers might feel the same rush, granted out of fear, and that’s completely normal. There is nothing pedestrian or average about holding onto a bar and flying around in the air.

Then, when I’m swinging, it’s virtually impossible to focus on anything other than holding onto the bar and trying to get my body to move the way I want it to move.

Nothing else enters my mind; the stresses of the day disappear.

As one of my friends from trapeze often says, “It’s like therapy, but it’s fun and it’s cheaper!”


Trapeze School New York, D.C. offers different classes in Southeast D.C. (Courtesy Emily Fisher/TSNY)


At $40 to $60 a class, that friend is correct.

The slogan at the trapeze school is, “Forget fear, worry about the addiction.”

Yes, it’s an addiction, and I am guilty as charged.

The adrenaline has a lot to do with it, but there are other things that keep me coming back for more.

For starters, trapeze is a great workout. It makes the elliptical machine at the gym seem even more boring than it already is. Trapeze works your arms, your abs and even some muscles you never knew you had — until you wake up sore the next day.

On top of working your muscles, trapeze requires a certain amount of flexibility – – all while paying attention to keeping your legs straight and toes pointed.

Trapeze also offers an important life lesson: It reminds me to trust others, and more importantly, to trust myself.

After years of practice, I now have the privilege of being able to swing and do tricks without safety lines. This means I have to trust that when I let go of the bar, my catcher will be there to catch me.

It means I have to put my fears aside and do the tricks I learned with confidence. There isn’t much time for second-guessing.

Sure, there is a very real possibility that I could fall and get hurt, but if I trust myself and those around me, there’s also a great possibility that things will go amazingly well.

When I catch that new trick, or have a great performance in a show, suddenly some of life’s real problems and challenges don’t seem so big anymore.

In fact, it makes spending a day at the editor’s desk during major breaking news seem like a piece of cake.

Watch Samantha Loss on the trapeze:

Editor’s Note: Off the 8’s is a WTOP Living feature, in which staff inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center share stories from their lives when they’re off the clock.

TSNY DC offers classes seven days a week. Some of the choices include Flying Trapeze, Silks, Trampoline and Juggling.

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter and on the WTOP Facebook page.

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