Standing on the shoulders of giants | A tribute to Bob Christians

On Monday, I heard the news of the passing of Bob Christians and though I never had the pleasure of meeting him, my life has been impacted by him in countless and significant ways and I would like to use this post as my way of thanking him.

As you may or may not know, I work for TSNY in Boston. Before I had ever heard of TSNY, I took my very first swing on one of Peter Gold’s rigs. The wonderful woman who was to become my wife was teaching for Peter and she invited me to come and give it a try. It was like finding a long lost love that I didn’t know I was missing until the moment we met. (That applies to both my wife and the trapeze). From the moment of that first swing, I couldn’t wait for the next one. The more I flew, the more excited I became about the possibilities for what I could do next. It was mind blowing because it fundamentally altered my understanding of my own potential. It’s also worth noting that Peter Gold’s first experience with the flying trapeze also happened at a Club Med resort and the Trapeze Experience exists, at least in part, because of that.

My wife first discovered the flying trapeze while she was working at Club Med, long before we had ever met. Shortly after my first swing, she found herself working at Club Med again. And since I was following my heart—in more ways than one—I ended up at Club Med doing some more flying. My early experiences flying with the circus team at Sandpiper cemented for me the knowledge that I had found something truly special, powerful and important.

Most significantly for me, TSNY exists because in the late 90s, Jonathon Conant went to Club Med. It was there that he had his first experience on the flying trapeze. And in that experience, he saw possibilities and the potential for sharing something truly transformative with the world.

Because of my connection to my wife—and because of my time with TSNY—I have met so many people whose first experience with the flying trapeze was at a Club Med resort. Many of the most talented flyers, teachers and coaches who have helped me to become a better flyer, teacher and coach have been former Club Med Circus GOs. More importantly, many of the people I now call friends are in my life because of our mutual connection to Club Med’s circus program.

Around the world, there are a number of flying trapeze schools that were founded by former Club Med Circus GOs.

The flying trapeze was there, at Club Med, because of Bob Christians. From what I understand, Bob was a flying trapeze artist/performer who loved flying. In the early 80s, he heard that Club Med was open to new ideas and he pitched the idea of putting a flying trapeze rig in at one of their resorts. They loved the idea and it caught on. He ended up being the guy who installed and maintained most, if not all, of the flying rigs at each of the Club Med resorts that has a flying rig. The rest, as they say, is history.

As I said, I never met him, but I have many fond memories of sitting down for drinks after flying with friends—and listening to those friends share their funny Bob Christians stories. This past week, I was in Seattle. There I was able to visit Emerald City Trapeze Arts, where one of my first teachers is the head coach. At SANCA, we had the opportunity to connect with old friends (from Club Med) and ironically—it was Monday—there was a funny (but not at all appropriate for sharing here) Bob Christians story.

While all of my former-circus-GO-friends seem to have at least one funny Bob Christians story, it’s clear that those who knew him learned a lot from him. What’s even clearer is that my life has been irrevocably and wonderfully changed from the moment I took my first swing on the flying trapeze and I am grateful beyond words that Bob Christians introduced it to Club Med. My gratitude extends to include all of the amazing people I met and experiences I’ve had that were in no small part because of his influence.

And so tonight, I’m raising my glass to the memory and influence of Bob Christians.

See you down the road.