If you chose to fly, then you don’t even have to be a superhero. All you need to do is head over to Flying Trapeze Philippines (FTP)—the first, full-size trapeze school in the country at corner of 34th Street and 9th Avenue in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig City.
Founded and run by Chinese-American William Hsu, FTP is now open and ready to bring brave Filipinos to greater heights.
Hsu, who moved to the Philippines in 2006 is a familiar face to the press and media as a public relations (PR) practitioner. Ever open and friendly, what many still don’t know about him, however, is that he has been flying the trapeze since the age of eight.
In an interview with The Sunday Times Magazine, Hsu shared how his passion for the trapeze began at summer camps. As he grew older, he managed to train regularly until he became a trapeze instructor himself.
“Once I got old enough, I ran a few trapeze classes on my own, which helped me make my way through college. I was able to pay for my books from what I earned,” he related.
However, when he found himself moving to the Philippines to pursue a career in public relations, he also stopped flying.
“I wanted to put up a trapeze school out here as far back as 2006, but it didn’t seem like the right time then especially since no one knew about it.”
As the years went by, with times changing and people more open—and even eager—to try out new things, Hsu finally decided to open up the activity to his new home.
“With all the alternative fitness activities that have come up lately—like pole-dancing, anti-gravity yoga, and so on—it just felt the right time to put up a trapeze school,” he expressed.
The trapeze flyer is also proud of the fact that FTP is one of the very first trapeze schools in Southeast Asia. He knows this because he had been scouring the region for one in the last eight years and only found one in Singapore that hardly opens to the public, and another one in Macau that has unfortunately closed down.
But even with the market ready for something different, Hsu was still unable to establish his long overdue trapeze school immediately.
“It took me a couple more years to find the right people to partner up with,” he explained.
Realizing that patience is a virtue, waiting it out for the right partner led him to his mentor Jackie Tan.
“She’s the one who taught me how to fly. She lives over in California,” Hsu shared.
Tan was more than happy to help out a former student and supplied FTP with the metal rigs needed for the activity.
Hsu elaborated, “At first, we tried to manufacture the metal rigs here in the Philippines but we weren’t able to find the right materials and people with knowledge to put them together, particularly certified welders. So everything was manufactured in US by a really famous circus and trapeze engineer. Yes, that’s Jackie Tan.”
Once the parts were shipped, it was just a matter of setting up—and partnering with the BGC management and property developer Avida Land.
“This area now is being developed by BGC and Avida into an ‘Active Zone’ with a football turf [already finished], a sports complex and a skate park. It took us a year to work out the details but they’ve been very supportive in putting up something different like the trapeze.”
“Imagine the feeling of jumping off a board that’s 25-feet high in the air, with nothing but a net to land on. It’s just so much fun,” exclaimed Hsu.
While his enthusiasm might not rub off easily especially among the faint hearted, he quickly added that there is more to trapeze than just the fun factor.
Nowadays, the trapeze is considered by many—among them famous Hollywood celebrities like Hugh Jackman and Pink—as a fitness activity.
Hsu explained, “A lot of celebrities back in Hollywood use it as a way of staying fit. It’s just another form of calisthenics. When you’re up there, you’re supporting or using your own body weight to generate your swing, or the flips and the twists.
“A lot of people who do it don’t realize they are actually getting in shape when they are flying. It’s not until after you’re done, and the adrenaline has worn off that you actually feel your body is sore,” he continued.
He added that the shoulders, arms, core, and legs, especially when the tricks on the trapeze get harder, all become toned.
Nevertheless is the trapeze more of a recreational activity rather than a fitness regimen? Hsu replied, “Either. They basically go hand-in-hand for me to be honest. Some people come in to look for the purely fitness aspect to it, while others try it out just for the fun of it.”
Now that he has his very own trapeze school in the Philippines, Hsu hopes that Filipino market is ready for something that is indeed quite out of the box.
“I’ve spent a lot of time, money and effort in putting this up. The people that see it, they seem to really like it; and those who have tried it, have really enjoyed flying.”
Can anyone just fly when they go to FTP? According to Hsu, the school offers two kinds of programs.
“One of them is the open swing where people can just come in everyday, go up the ladder and swing one time,” he said. “We want to stay away from the amusement park mentality. It [open swing]is mainly to get people to experience the activity and really get excited about it. Now if they like it, they can move on to the other program.”
Hsu means the regular classes, which run twice a day for two hours. More instructional, it accommodates a total of 10 students per session.
For first time-flyers, the following is what to expect, according to the trapeze master: “When people come in, we bring them over to the practice bar. We teach them the first tricks, which are the knee hang and the back flip. Then, they’ll be taught how to take off the board properly and told to make sure that when they’re hopping, they do so in the right position.”
These all happen 25-feet from the ground.
“A lot of people understandably aren’t familiar with the trapeze yet but it’s not as hard as it actually looks. It’s just basically repetition—drilling the tricks over and over again,” Hsu guaranteed.
The excitement for the trapeze continues as there is always something to achieve the more one flies—harder tricks like rotating in mid-air and catching a partner high up in the air.
“The great thing about trapeze is that like any sport, there is a normal progression to it. There’s always something to work toward to, something to achieve. And this is precisely the reason why so many people get addicted to it because it’s certainly a challenge,” Hsu concluded.
Flying Trapeze Philippines is owned and operated by Trapeze Inc. For more information, and class schedules or bookings, visit www.trapeze.ph or e-mail email@example.com.