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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Battalion May 4, 2024

Trapeze academy brings high-flying antics to B-CS

By Jena Floyd

Health senior Alexandria Powell swings from a trapeze at the Lone Star Trapeze Academy.

Members of the Lone Star Trapeze Academy in Bryan are no strangers to heights — swinging from metal bars 27 feet in the air above a giant net is a part of their job description.

Lone Star Trapeze Academy recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. Co-owners Rhys Challicombe, Chad Davis and Stacy Majors have brought their acrobatic expertise to the community through the school, which is one of the only three trapeze schools in Texas. The other two are located in Dallas and Austin.

“There’s a lot on the east coast, a lot on the west coast,” Challicombe said. “Bryan doesn’t normally get too cold … So weather is good down here.”

Challicombe and Davis moved from Australia to teach trapeze in Texas, while Majors is from Bryan.

“Stacy grew up here and she talked about the Aggie Spirit — something I didn’t really understand but sort of went along with, but arriving here it’s evident everywhere in the people that I speak to,” Challicombe said. “Just a very big community spirit.”

Challicombe had been teaching trapeze and cleaning high-rise windows in Melbourne, Australia, before moving to Texas.

“Chad married Stacy and we’ve all been doing circus — flying trapeze for a while now,” Challicombe said. “And we decided we wanted to open it up and run it for ourselves so people could experience it the way we wanted to teach it.”

Challicombe started trapeze when he was 18. After high school, he took a gap year, which is quite common in Australia, but then never went to college after learning the trapeze.

He went through Bali, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Great Barrier Reef in different resorts before moving back to Australia. He has been teaching trapeze for about 10 years and teaches a wide variety of ages, from children, to young professionals, to the elderly.

“Chad holds the record for the three of us with an 87-year-old, which wasn’t done here, but which he taught,” Challicombe said.

All types of people can experience the swinging.”

Challicombe said it does not take long to get the swing of trapeze and that by the end of the first class, people tend to feel like they can conquer the world.

“A good saying that’s been passed down through everybody is, ‘First time for fear, second time for fun,’” Challicombe said. “So by the second time, you’re getting quite comfortable, you’re a little less scared and you’re able to listen to instructions a little bit better.”

Challicombe said the hardest part of trapeze for many people is stepping outside their comfort zones. He said he has the most fun teaching people who are not great at trapeze the first time, but come back two or three times because of how much they enjoyed it.

“They came back — they loved swinging, they loved the trapeze as much as I did, and I wanted to teach everything I could and help them in any way,” Challicombe said.

Alex Powell, health senior, started trapeze in May and is a student at the academy.

Powell recently got out of lines, which means she is no longer strapped to anything while she swings. Powell has never been afraid of heights and said the instructors are patient with beginners.

“They start you off real slow and then they slowly build you up to a higher, more advanced level and then they teach you how to swing and then when you get your swing down, they’ll take you out of the lines when they feel comfortable with it,” Powell said.

Challicombe said at Lone Star Academy they begin with groundwork and stretching. They demonstrate and practice tricks on the low bar before ascending the ladder.

“So we’ll practice on the low bar what’s going to go on,” Challicombe said. “Then we’ll harness you in, give you a safety belt, send you up the ladder … Then you’ll get to the platform in which one of the instructors will hold you, and you’ll grab the bar with both hands and jump off and swing through the air.”

Powell said trapeze is something everyone should try at least one, despite fear of the sport.

“Even if you’re scared of heights there’s nothing to worry about; you’re strapped in,” Powell said. “So I’ve seen people like off of the wrong spot and they catch you — they slowly lower you to the net, so it’s not scary.”

Erin Ginsberg, marketing graduate student, is also a student at the academy and has been doing trapeze for about two years. She originally learned how to swing at Island Lake, a circus camp in Pennsylvania.

“When I moved back from camp, ironically they opened up [Lone Star],” Ginsberg said.

Ginsberg said her favorite part of trapeze is the learning aspect of it, as there is always room for growth.

“The best thing about that is while you’re learning you’re getting stronger too,” Ginsberg said. “So you’re building strength and you’re figuring something out like a puzzle … There’s a lot more to it than I would’ve ever thought.”

Ginsberg said trapeze is enjoyable because of her tendency to try different things.

“It’s just exhilarating jumping off of a platform and landing in a net,” Ginsberg said. “And really every time you go is a new experience, because you’re always working on something.”

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