Mermaiding

Mermaiding is trendy. I hit the water in monofin and tail to see if it’s also a workout.

The Washington Post, August 2019

Elizabeth Kiefer

(Excerpt from the article)

Once merfolk-in-training have that down, McCartney puts them through circuits including Russian twists and “mermaid push-ups ” on the pool deck, barrel rolls through underwater hula hoops and, of course, plain old swimming. She recommends newbies begin with a smaller-size monofin, as bigger, heavier tails require more work. “Once you start doing it, you forget you’re working out,” she adds.

Standing in the four-foot end of the pool, Mermaid Cookie reiterates the point about the movement emanating from your abdomen, not your knees, demonstrating what she means with a splashy flourish of her tail. The kids erupt in happy screams. Then it’s my turn. I dive toward the bottom, propelling myself forward with a butterfly kick; seconds later, when I come for air, I’m already halfway across the pool. Immediately, I want to keep going. McCartney was right: This feels less like fitness than plain old fun.

That’s not to say I wasn’t getting good exercise. Bianca Beldini , a doctor of physical therapy who is also a USA Triathlon Certified Level 1 Coach, often uses butterfly kick drills in her own training and with her clients. “Swimming is good for strength and flexibility, helps improve your cardiopulmonary functions, yet you’re not dealing with gravitational issues,” she says, adding that it can also be an excellent calorie burn. 

Though there is plenty of first-person anecdotal evidence about the fitness value of mermaiding, the practice seems too new to have prompted in-depth research. One study of professional mermaids does show a few potential health risks. Some are similar to the risks of swimming in general — ear infections, waterborne diseases, unwanted confrontations with sea life — while others are mermaiding-specific, including back pain related to wearing a fin and tail. Though I did in fact get water up my nose while I was swimming, that’s been happening all my life, and it has yet to deter me.

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