Helen's High Wire Bootcamp Blue Peter


Helen's High Wire Bootcamp

Helen goes from a virtual novice to a high wire performer who can complete an 80-metre walk on a high wire in her training camp, where she conquers her fear of being on the wire.


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Transcript


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Battersea Power Station - vast, exposed

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and officially, on the dangerous buildings list.

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Now the location for an extraordinary Red Nose Day challenge.

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I'm going to walk from that chimney to this one.

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It's going to be 150 metres long.

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I'll be walking on a wire suspended 66 metres in the air.

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It is, without doubt, going to be the scariest walk of my life.

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On today's Blue Peter special, how I learnt to high wire walk.

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An act attempted by only a few highly trained performers.

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I'm doing it for Comic Relief, to help change the lives

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of people in Africa and in the UK.

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'In my way - fear.'

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Not enjoying this. I really want to get off.

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'Frustration.'

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I just feel like I have to shut up and deal with it.

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'And pain.'

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I'm in so much pain, you've got no idea!

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I'm not going to lie to you, it really, really is painful.

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I started training last November on a low tight wire.

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There was more falling than walking.

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This is so annoying.

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With practise, I finally found my feet

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and took on my first live performance.

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I lost my concentration not once...

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but twice.

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It was terrifying but I did it.

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Now, to the next stage. I'm off to France to my high wire bootcamp

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run by Jade Kindar-Martin.

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Jade is one of the world's top high wire artists.

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He's trained for years to perform at this level.

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He even broken a world record, crossing the River Thames.

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Jade's training wire is 80 metres long and 20 metres high.

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10 times the height and length I'm used to

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and less than the width of a ten pence piece.

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I feel like I should be scared and intimidated

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but my first impressions are I want to get on with it.

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I've got a big challenge at the end of this

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and the sooner I get stuck into learning how to do it,

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the sooner I can put that challenge to bed.

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I just don't think there's any point putting it off.

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It's long, isn't it? It's a bit longer than I expected.

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I... Hmm.

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I've only got four weeks to learn this, so there's no time to waste.

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We're trying to prepare her to do something that's taken me

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20 years of my life to prepare for.

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Let me see how you balance.

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Let me see what you learned these past couple of weeks.

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Now, look out in front of you.

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-That's good.

-I'm harnessed to a safety rope running above the wire

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and I can't seem to let go of it.

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-I underestimated this.

-Turn around.

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Each foot you take, feel yourself on the wire.

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-Shall I let go of the wire?

-No.

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I was a bit disappointed in her level of...

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I thought she had been practising a little bit more

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and was more capable of keeping her balance.

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We've got more work than I expected.

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HELEN SCREAMS

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-That's what happens when you fall.

-OK.

-Come on.

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I feel like I've just had a wet fish of realisation slap me in the face.

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This is hard.

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So far, I've used my arms to balance.

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To be a high-wire walker,

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I'll need to use a balance pole like the experts.

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This is your only balance now.

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Hold that further. Good. Pull it in.

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Feel that sense of weight in your hands.

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The pole moves, you don't move.

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To understand why I need a balance pole,

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I've got to get my head around some simple science.

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To stay balanced on the wire, I'll need to keep

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the middle of my body, or centre of gravity, above the wire at all times.

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I can't lean very far to one side before I fall off.

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Holding a heavy balance pole lowers my centre of gravity,

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making me more stable on the wire.

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If I start to fall to one side, by gently tipping the pole

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in the opposite direction, I should be able to regain my balance.

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It will help me but it's pretty heavy.

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My balance pole is six metres long and weighs eight kilograms.

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It's a bit like carrying two big shopping bags.

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Fight for the balance. Don't just let it be there

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and if it's not there, it's not there. Really go after it.

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I have to learn to control the pole before I'm allowed to walk with it.

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This is the most annoying thing in the world. Oh, Skelton!

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Fight, fight, fight.

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-Shall I have a go?

-A go with this?

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No, you can't even walk one step with that.

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I stand there, try and do it and fall off.

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I stand there, try and do it and fall off, for hours.

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And it's really frustrating because you don't move on.

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Until she can hold the pole and stay in place and do everything

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I need her to do, I'm not going to let her walk on the wire.

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It's not safe for her. It's not safe for me.

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It's not fun for anybody. It's going to put us two steps back.

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I haven't done anything yet. I want to get on the wire.

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I want to start to walk across it

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because only then I will feel like I can do this.

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Wire walkers have to be super-fit,

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so the next day I start a new exercise regime

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with Jade's wife, Carine, a stuntwoman and gymnast.

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We ran, we walked, we skipped, we've hopped, we've carried rocks

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and that's just the warm-up.

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Jade won't let me walk on the wire until I can use the pole safely.

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So all I can do is practise for hours...

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..and hours and hours.

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Instead of using your top body to move the pole, use just your arms.

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That's it. You need to start fighting for your balance.

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Finally, it all starts to click into place.

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Yesterday, I couldn't stay here for more than a few seconds

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I didn't understand what I was doing with this thing.

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Now I get it. It's kind of resistance.

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It's so heavy.

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My Red Nose Day high wire walk over Battersea Power Station

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will be 150 metres.

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That's a long way to carry that balance pole.

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I'm getting off. One, two, three.

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Very good.

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Yeah!

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Finally, I prove I can handle the pole,

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so Jade lets me try a few steps along the wire.

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Just stay there for a second. Get your bearings.

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Relax. Breathe, remember, breathe.

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Keep your body straight.

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I get just over a metre.

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It might not look far

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but it's a good way to end my first stint at Jade's bootcamp.

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Oh, my word. I cannot tell you how good this feels.

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Ta-da!

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You did it.

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Thank you.

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Yeah!

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She's into it. She's ready to work

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and getting her strength up in her arms will be really important.

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Over the times she's not here,

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she needs to do a lot of working out and bicep training.

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Time to leave France and head back to the UK.

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Despite my busy schedule, I have to make time for extra training.

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Good.

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That's it.

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And time.

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You look at the weights and think it's easy, but going for that long...

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The publicity for this year's Red Nose Day campaign is kicking off.

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Comic Relief, the charity behind Red Nose Day,

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changes millions of lives by funding projects in Africa and the UK.

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I hope you'll be inspired to do something funny for money.

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But the pressure of my challenge is getting to me.

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My brain feels scrambled.

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This is something I've never had to deal with.

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If I don't get halfway, even ten or 12 paces, it won't be funny.

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It will be embarrassing.

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I didn't think about this, really, did I?

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When I return to France, it doesn't look like there'll be much training.

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It's freezing. Look at the snow.

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I mean, this is just a total winter wonderland, isn't it?

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There's so much snow that I can't go on the wire.

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All I can do is stand here and do some work with this pole,

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which I need to do, because it's heavy.

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I know the snow's so pretty, but it's a hindrance.

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Who says it has to be all work?

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Oh, that was a good one!

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I did not do that to my teacher! That was him.

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One man down!

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I've got to wait for things to improve.

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I just have to remind myself why I'm here.

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Do I want to be running in the snow, doing push-ups on the ground? No!

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But I feel it's a means to an end and I feel it will be worth it.

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I'm doing this because I believe in the projects that Comic Relief funds

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and I've seen what a difference it makes.

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After the snow, there's even more bad weather keeping me off the wire.

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SCREAMS IN FRUSTRATION

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It is frustrating because I just want to get on with it.

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But when it rains, it's too dangerous for me to go out there.

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If I do myself an injury then I won't be able to do the challenge.

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All I can do is exercise and get on the wire whenever I can.

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So, come on, rain. Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.

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Finally, the rain eases and Jade decides to let me on the wire.

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-Ready to go out there?

-Yep.

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Just remember that you want to be really strong on your ankle.

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-If you feel your ankle's sagging, you may slip.

-OK. OK.

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One...

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..two.

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One...

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..two.

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I'm definitely optimistic

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and confident that she's going to do what she needs to do.

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The wetter that your shoes are going to become,

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the more slippery they are.

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Don't bend.

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The rain sets in again, but at least I got halfway across.

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We've danced with danger enough for today.

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I'm not going to get carried away.

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I'm just going to deal with it every day

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and take each little milestone as it comes.

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When I get to the end, then I will go nuts.

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Until then, this is just the stepping stones to getting there.

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I'm definitely improving, but it's a slow process.

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Jade gets me to watch myself so I can see where I'm going wrong.

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That's not too bad, is it? I'm upright.

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See how you move right there?

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See what I'm always talking about, dropping that shoulder.

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Keep your shoulders square. Move your pole wherever you want to.

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I need to know how to move more gracefully.

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So for the answer, I'm turning to the world of ballet.

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Ballet dancers use deep stomach muscles to help them balance.

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Their core strength. Jade thinks the same technique might help me.

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Loretta Summerscales is in Swan Lake with English National Ballet.

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She's taken time out to meet me, along with teacher, Louise Halliday.

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Even standing, you look elegant. I just feel like I'm like this.

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It doesn't take much. It's about thinking about it

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and someone said to me, the best way to develop core strength

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is to think about it all the time.

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Not to come in and do exercises, not to do sit-ups.

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But when you're standing still, or sitting down,

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or brushing your teeth.

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Exactly what Loretta is saying here. It's engaging these muscles.

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First, up to fifth.

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The deepest core muscle is the transversus abdominis.

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It stabilises the middle of the body and most use it without thinking.

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How would you walk normally? Just without thinking about anything.

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Yeah, your hips are definitely... yeah. Try now walking.

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Don't think about anything else. Try walking just holding your core.

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There - the hips have stopped already.

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Is that better? We really are taking it back to basics.

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If you're walking like that, then when you're on the wire

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you're not using your hips to compensate.

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Helen, show us the pole.

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The whole idea is to keep as much of your feet on the wire as possible.

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The longer I'm on the wire, the more I hunch because it's heavy.

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If this is heavy, you hold it.

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If that's heavy and you let your shoulders go down,

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how much heavier is it?

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If that's heavy and you've got your shoulders...

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..back, you have more control.

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I'm going to be going everywhere like this from now on.

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-You have your handbags and your keys.

-Tea, anyone?

-And a biscuit.

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If it becomes my default position, that's good.

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I need to incorporate that into every minute of my days.

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-Thank you, ladies.

-Thank you.

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I'll be honest. There was a bit of me that was thinking this morning,

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how much can I really learn in one hour?

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In truth, that has made me feel really good and really confident,

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because the things I worry about are the things that ballet dancers

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deal with every time they step out on stage - the posture,

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the performance, the balance. And those mind tricks will help me.

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I feel like I have tools now to deal with everything a bit better,

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so massive confidence boost.

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And right now, that's what I need. I need to think high wire and smile.

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This is the first time I've smiled for a long time.

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Back at bootcamp,

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I use what I have learned to improve my performance on the wire.

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I'm now walking much further and really starting to look the part.

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Helen's concentration has improved.

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You can see it when she gets out there.

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Overall, she's doing really well physically.

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Lock your knees together. There you go. Lock your knees together.

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-Much better. You see that all of a sudden? Did you feel that?

-Yep.

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The true test of a professional high wire walker is knowing

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what to do when things go wrong.

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-Whoa...

-Oh, no. Come on now.

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'I lost my concentration and slipped off.'

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I'm sorry.

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Imagine you didn't have that rope. Would you have let yourself fall?

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-No.

-What concerns me is you just jumped. You didn't go for the wire.

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That's what a high wire walker does.

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He takes control of the situation, of the wire.

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You don't just let yourself fall to the side.

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Ohh, it's hurting.

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-Now pick your head up. More. There you go.

-I got up.

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Better? Is it not?

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No?

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-Don't look... It's not so bad!

-No, it's not what I'm saying at all.

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When it goes wrong... Everythign's going great,

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then all of a sudden... And that's what we're training for,

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so you don't feel yourself swinging back and forth.

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Yeah.

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I have to listen to my own lessons. It is hard, cold, uncomfortable.

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I don't know if I can do it. I have to listen to myself

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and I must believe what I'm saying,

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which is - impossible and difficult are two different things.

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Night-night.

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Rather than rely on the harness,

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Jade thinks it's important that I learn to grab the wire if I fall.

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Oh, dear. This is going to hurt. This is going to hurt.

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-I need to go from there.

-Now, put the balance pole on the wire.

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Ow!

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Oh!

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No, no, no, don't do this.

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There you go. Not the other one.

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JADE LAUGHS

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I'm not letting go, though.

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There's no getting away from it.

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Slamming my body on to a thin piece of steel over and over again hurts.

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Don't take your hands off. Keep your knee on.

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Look right at me. Look right at me.

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I don't need to talk you through it.

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Wire...wire.

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Ow! Ow! Ow!

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But after a bit of determination

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and a lot of pain, I'm finally cracking the technique.

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I haven't walked from one end to the other, but Jade thinks I'm ready.

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She's gotten to the point where I'm feeling better about her strength.

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You know, now she just really needs to be able to focus.

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But just when I think it's going well,

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something happens that disrupts my training.

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Last night, I just started throwing up.

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Apparently there's a sickness and diarrhoea bug going around France

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and now is sure not the time.

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It's bad enough that every time I move, I feel ill,

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but I can't even sit on the toilet because my bottom's so bruised.

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I want my mum.

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Even with delays,

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I've had nearly a month of training on the wire.

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Now, for the first time, I'm going to attempt to walk the whole thing.

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-You look more scared than me, Jade.

-I think you can do it.

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You need to be not afraid of the wire.

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If you get into a situation, crouch down.

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-Keep one foot in front of the other. Keep walking.

-OK.

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I'm balancing 20 metres above the ground.

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-Keep your knee bent.

-The further I go, the slacker the wire feels.

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It just feels more wobbly.

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I can hear the river beneath me and I can see the rocks.

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Don't get over-eager. Now's the hard part.

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Pole goes one side, pole goes the other side.

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The last part is uphill, but I'm almost there.

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Breathe, remember.

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End of the wire. Keep going.

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Look to your right. Put it in the little... Right there.

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It's such a relief to do that.

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Happy?

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-Pretty good. Pretty good.

-I'll take that smile.

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Tomorrow, my high wire journey reaches its climax.

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Battersea is three times the height of my practise walk

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and also twice the length.

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So Helen will be challenged.

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Can I control my fear, or will Battersea overpower me?

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This is just taking away every bit of confidence I have. Literally.

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Look at me! I'm hunching my shoulders and I want to hide.

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One of the major things that Helen's going to have to overcome

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is the first step.

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Come on, Helen!

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The wire is waiting.

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Come with me on the scariest walk of my life.

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Helen goes from a virtual novice to a high wire performer who can complete an 80-metre walk on a high wire in her training camp in France. She does everything from learning how to hold the heavy 8kg balance pole to conquering her fear of being on the wire.


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