Trapeze school defies gravity

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By Jackie Adams / Asst. Features Editor

Flying high (Jackie Adams / Asst. Features Editor)

By Jackie Adams / Asst. Features Editor

While some people have BBQ’s in their backyard, a patio set or maybe even a pool, Dave Ayers, 63, has a two story trapeze rig in his.

For the past seven years “Trapeze High” has operated on Ayer’s almost two-acre backyard in Escondido.

For $50, people from any walk of life can get a one and half hour lesson to not only learn how to swing from the trapeze, but how to do tricks as well.

“It’s perceived as an extreme sport, so a lot of people are hesitant to come out because they feel they can’t do it physically, or emotionally they aren’t up to it,” Ayers said. “But for many people, trapeze can be a very positive life changing experience. It’s the best way to get high.” 

A couple of yards away, three San Diego State students are doing backflips through the air, and hanging upside down by their knees.

“It’s their first day here.” Ayers said with pride. “It’s a really easy sport, like swimming is really easy, but you’re not going to be Michael Phelps without really working hard.”

It does seem intimidating, from climbing the narrow ladder that goes two stories straight up, to standing on the small platform,  leaning out over the ground, grabbing the bar with both hands and jumping.

But for most people the most intimidating part is letting go of the bar once you’re flying in the air, and trusting that the net will safely catch you when you’re done free falling. 

A couple of students from Trapeze High are working at Ringling Brothers right now, but most customers are regular people who are just looking for a day of fun.  

People wanting to have a unique birthday party or a fun team building exercises can bring their friends and family to the rig for a 90 minute workout.

“Any excuse to be outside and play, that’s the reason for a party here,” Ayers said.

The thrilling sport seems to be growing in popularity daily, so much so that Ayers opened a new school in Del Mar fairgrounds on November 13, and is in negotiations to open another one in Escondido next year.

The new school in Del Mar is structured under a nonprofit and is called “Circus Fund.” Among the programs offered is the J.A.K.E scholarship fund, in memory of Ayer’s 19-year-old son, Jacob Ayers, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in September.

The programs allow low-income children the opportunity to learn how to fly trapeze, and the main goals are to help children and adolescents build confidence and encourage healthy life choices. 

Doing a backflip on their first day flying can enforce the idea that a child is capable of succeeding, show them the thrill they can get from exercise, and hopefully encourage them to try other positive activities.

 ”It’s one of the best physical activities that you can do, it works every muscle in your body and your mind. It’s exhilarating, its confidence building,” Ayers said.

“It’s super safe,” Ayers said. “You have safety lines, you’ve got two or three people taking care of you the whole time. That’s why you can send your little kids here, or you could send grandma here. I’m doing a birthday party with a grandma in a couple of weeks, and she’s in her 80s.”

The first time Ayers flew trapeze he was 47.

“For me it changed my life.” Ayers said.

He had suffered a nearly crippling back injury when he was 9 years old, and lived with severe pain his whole life.

Six months after he began flying trapeze, his back fixed itself.

“Everything I have, my property, my wife (she and I met on a trapeze), everything I have I owe to trapeze,” Ayers said. “For me, it means everything and I’m going to keep on doing it until I can’t climb a ladder anymore.”

Showing off (Jackie Adams / Asst. Features Editor)

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