James Shillinglaw | June 22, 2015 2:34 PM ET
Man on the Flying Trapeze
So there I was climbing up a ladder to the platform where two of the Club Med Creactive team were waiting for me. "Remember to put your hands on the middle of the bar," one said, as the other grabbed the trapeze bar and pulled it into the platform for me.
All I could think was: “What am I doing up here…again?”
“Put one hand on the bar first and hold on to the platform,” my instructor said. “Then when I tell you, grab the trapeze bar with both hands in the middle and lean out…but remember to bend your knees!” Right! Bend my knees!
I'm hovering high over a net, with my toes curled around the platform, and suddenly I'm thinking that maybe I really am afraid of heights. Right!
I flashed back to all the other instructions I had been given on the ground below before I climbed up the ladder: When to swing my legs out, when to bend my knees and then hook them over the bar, and when to extend my hands towards the ground as I dangled with my knees hooked over the bar.
Then I was supposed to grab the bar with my hands again, unhook my knees, and swing out and grab my knees again and do a somersault as I let go of the bar and dropped back into the net below. Right!
Well, it didn't go quite according to plan. My instructor gave me the signal and a grabbed the trapeze bar as told then swung out into nothingness (and far too slowly). I held on as the trapeze swung out, but I just could get my legs up to touch the bar.
The trapeze swung back as my instructor urged me to swing back to gain more momentum on the second try. No go! I swung again I tried to get my left food onto the bar…barely, but not enough.
I swung back and forth two more times, but I had no more momentum and decided it was time to get back to Earth, so to speak. I dropped into the net and lay there motionless for a few seconds.
Ten years ago I had failed on the trapeze when I tried it at Club Med Sandpiper, and here I was unsuccessful again. On the other hand, I had at least tried it. I had braved the height and the trapeze, even though I hadn’t completed the trick.
All this happened this past Friday at Club Med Punta Cana, where Club Med has just opened up Creactive, a circus training school for its guests that is run in partnership with Cirque du Soleil. Club Med has long had trapeze training in its repertoire, but the new Creactive program takes circus training to a whole new level.
Indeed, Creactive offers training in up to 30 different circus disciplines, including the trapeze, acrobatic bungee, wall walking, trampoline, make up, acting, dance, drums, juggling and more. The only thing they don’t seem to have is that trick where someone is shot out of a cannon (maybe that’s to come!).
The Creactive staff includes veterans of Cirque du Soleil shows, as well as Club Med staff that has been trained to Cirque standards. They’ve been absorbed in the Club Med culture as GCs (or gentil circassiens in Club Med speak), in contrast to the GOs (or gentil organisateurs) who are essentially Club Med’s “camp counselors” running all the activities at the resort. Together the GCs and GOs now train and interact with the GMs (gentil membres or Club Med guests).
Creactive training can be enjoyed by guests of all ages, from 4 to 80 years or more. Indeed, I was there when a 78-year-old woman tried the acrobatic bungee. She was clearly delighted as she did flips both backward and forward and bounced up and down on the elastic cords).
And who followed that woman? Yours truly! Fortunately I was quite a bit more successful on the bungee. My instructors hooked me up (they had to add a few extra bungee cords…guess I need to lose some weight). Right! And then, as I tugged on the cords, they raised me up above the ground.
There I dangled yet again as my instructor gave me directions on how to do a back flip (mission accomplished) and then a forward flip (again, mission accomplished, though not without some experimentation).
“Be like Superman,” my instructor urged, as she walked me through the front flip trick. Now that’s an instruction I can understand! I raised my hands to the sky, put my legs together, put my chin up and reached forward as I spun 360 degrees (well almost!). I’d done it!
Right now Creactive can only be enjoyed at Club Med Punta Cana, but there are plans to eventually expand it to other Club Med resorts around the world. For me, this also was the first time I’d been to Club Punta Cana, even though I’ve stayed at a number of other Club Med properties over the years and have been writing about the company for more than 20 years.
My initial takeaway about Club Med Punta Cana, which is the brand’s largest resort at 533 rooms, is that it is a fabulous all-inclusive property with some of the best facilities I’ve seen at any resort. And it is only going to get better as it adds new features like Creactive and the upcoming 78 Zen Oasis suites, which will debut in December. It’s a great place for families, multigenerational groups, meeting and incentive groups, and, yes, even couples. But more on that in a future column!
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Latest Travel News
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship
Features & Advice
Airlines & Airports
Airlines & Airports
Features & Advice
Destination & Tourism