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Leap of faith

An accountant flies through the air with the greatest of ease ... on a trapeze.

Deloitte LifeIn 2010, Hagen Weintraub – an audit-in-charge with AERS who recently moved from Boca Raton, FL, to New York – and members of her team were working at a client site in Orlando. As a group activity, the team decided to attend La Nouba, a production of the performance troupe Cirque du Soleil.

Like other members of her group, Weintraub was entranced by the talent, athletic ability and stage presence of the performers. “The show was amazing,” she says. “It’s hard to believe humans can get their bodies to do what they do.”

A few months later while driving to work in Boca Raton, she noticed a billboard advertising the Flying Trapeze School, a Miami-based company of professional trapeze performers who teach people of all ages how to fly through the air, if only for a second or two. With memories of Cirque du Soleil fresh in her head, Weintraub signed up for a five-part series of classes.

“This was, obviously, not a first step toward a career change,” Weintraub says with a smile. “I had no delusions of one day doing this professionally. I just wanted a taste, to feel what it’s like to swing from a trapeze into the arms of another person.”

The Flying Trapeze School’s first class focuses on safety such as how to land on the net 20 feet below and basics such as hanging upside down by the knees. By the final class, participants who show enough skill get to try the ultimate move – dropping from one bar into the arms of a professional swinging from the opposite bar. Weintraub, who performed about 12 practice falls in each class from the trapeze into the net below, did progress well and was ready for her big moment.

“It’s scary and exhilarating,” she says. “You’re hanging by your knees on the trapeze bar, swinging back and forth while the professionals are yelling out instructions. When they say, ‘drop,’ you straighten your legs and sail into the air with your arms extended, hoping the other person catches you. Obviously, there’s a net below, but it’s not like landing on a pile of pillows. When it all goes well, before you know it, you’re in the hands of another person.”

For Weintraub, the trapeze classes reinforced the belief that fitness can take many forms. A member of the golf team at the University of Miami during her college days, Weintraub never imagined she would be performing any circus-type moves. “It’s great exercise. You develop a lot of upper-body strength. In fact, many of the students in the classes weren’t there just for the experience; they were there for the exercise.”

This past January, Weintraub accepted an invitation to join a project in New York. She accepted, but the move didn’t mean an end to her flying days. After some research, she discovered a trapeze class at Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex in Manhattan. Weintraub plans to take a class there, but she won’t be discarding her Deloitte laptop and swinging into the world of professional entertainment. “It takes many years of gymnastics and training to become as good as those pros,” she says. “I’m just happy I’ve found a challenging and fun way to help me stay fit.”

It’s also a great conversation starter. For a team-building activity this past summer, AERS Partner Erin Scanlon invited Weintraub to a Cirque du Soleil show in New York City. As usual, trapeze work was a key part of the show. After the performance, Weintraub described her high-flying adventure. “My experience got a lot of attention, and I was happy to share it,” she says. “Now, I just need to convince a colleague or two to join me in my next class.”

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