Brothers Marco, left, and Anthony Rosamilia run their trapeze program...

Brothers Marco, left, and Anthony Rosamilia run their trapeze program at Eisenhower Park's Aquatic Center in East Meadow. They were circus instructors and performers at Club Med resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida. (March 27, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

Devyn Warren of East Northport yearned to fly. But not in the friendly skies with a pilot in the cockpit. She was thinking along the lines of . . . the flying trapeze.

Last year, the 9-year-old's parents granted her wish, and Devyn set out for Eisenhower Park in East Meadow for a class with I.fly Flying Trapeze. She enjoyed her session so much that she begged her parents to sign her up again, which they did.

"She's very daring," said mom Christine Warren, who has a thing about vertical space. "I'm afraid of heights," she admits.

Though flying trapeze requires a willingness to climb steps 23 feet high to mount a narrow base, the real daredevil element is the leap off the platform while holding onto a horizontal bar suspended from parallel ropes. The thrill is up in the air, where fliers can perform all sorts of moves, such as knee hangs, back flips and catches (synchronized so a flying instructor grabs another flier's wrists in mid-swing). Of course, before all of this can happen, instruction is required.

"Basic instruction takes place on the ground first," said Anthony Rosamilia, 33, who co-owns I.fly with his brother, Marco, 35. The siblings, who grew up in Franklin Square, launched the company in 2006, after both trained and worked as circus instructors and performers at Club Med resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida. Their students are usually amateurs and thrill seekers.

"Club Med is known as the largest circus school in the world, based on how many resorts and programs they have," he said. Learning how to fly a trapeze is one of the more popular activities with resort guests.

It was at the Sandpiper Bay Club Med in Florida where Sherry Amatenstein, of Long Island City, tried it out in early March. "I did the trapeze because at 50, I still like to be up doing things that scare me, though I made sure to tell the instructor that I wasn't out to do any 'tricks,' just to survive, and that's what I did," said the clinical social worker.

 

Boost from Cirque, clubs

The popularity of recreational flying trapeze has been on an upswing due to the programs at Club Med and Cirque du Soleil, according to Marco Rosamilia. So they decided to open their own trapeze school to share the adventure with Long Islanders.

They operate seasonally from April to October but have had to relocate several times. Due to resident complaints, in 2009, I.fly was denied a variance renewal by the Town of Smithtown to continue operating from the Ivy League School and Day Camp.

"We're a unique business," said Anthony Rosamilia, "and there's misinformation about our activities, safety, there are misconceptions. People don't know what to think about it, in terms of insurance, landlords . . . It's a hard sell, and it's easier to say no than to say yes."

Tanglewood Preserve in Rockville Centre did allow I.fly to operate on their premises, and that's where Girl Scouts of Nassau County production coordinator Anna Lenz had her singular trapeze experience two years ago, during a leadership retreat. Given the option of workshops in embroidery, jewelry making, yoga and such, "I wanted to try something I'd never done before," said Lenz, 45, of Lynbrook, adding that the experience was all at once frightening, empowering and fun.

Today, thrill seekers can take to the trapeze at the aquatic center at Eisenhower Park, I.fly's headquarters since 2011. Before anyone can fly, he or she must sign an insurance waiver. Pregnant women, anyone with a heart issue, recent surgery, and/or with a condition that would be adversely affected by physical exertion, cannot participate. Other than that, as long as they can understand direction, children as young as 4 can fly a trapeze.

 

Lessons, harness, net

Preflight on-the-ground lessons include step-by-step demonstrations by the instructors, with introductions to basic positions, such as the knee hang (bringing knees to the chest). And all participants are securely harnessed to safety belts and lines, which are manned by instructors on the ground. I.fly utilizes a custom, handmade net for landings.

"At first I was nervous, but then I felt really safe," Devyn said of her initial flying trapeze experience. She said the instructors were patient and encouraging.

"The first time I just hung on the bar," she said. But after several attempts during one session, she was able to complete several complex maneuvers.

Devyn had such a great time that she wanted to have a flying trapeze birthday party at the facility, but it was closing for the season. And it can be pricey, adds her mother.

Classes last 90 minutes, are typically limited to 10 people and begin April 7. The fee is $50 for a weekday session and $55 on weekends.

Anthony Rosamilia said that flying trapeze is an out-of-the box activity that boosts self-esteem, making it ideal for children and teens and as a team-building exercise for corporations and nonprofits, such as the Girl Scouts.

Lenz would agree.

"I was scared to death but so happy I got to do it," she said. "It was on my bucket list, and it made me want to do other things."

 

 

Fun facts

 

Jules Leotard of Toulouse, France, designed the first flying trapeze and practiced his acrobatics in his father's gymnasium until he mastered the apparatus. In 1859, he performed in public for the first time in the Cirque Napoleon (now the Cirque d'hiver), popularizing flying trapeze worldwide. But the toned and limber aerialist also became known for his wardrobe -- a tight-fitting, one-piece garment called a leotard.


Learn more:

Contact I.fly at:

516-640-6995

iflytrapeze.com