It’s not all hair flips and seashell bras; mermaiding is hard work, and one Montrealer is bringing it to Toronto.
Mermaid school is not for the faint of heart. What at first seems like a shimmery, fantastic excuse to do your best Ariel impression is in fact a demanding workout that will challenge even experienced swimmers. By combining the sports of synchronized swimming and finswimming, AquaMermaid founder Marielle Chartier Henault created a program that might just bring this unconventional workout to the mainstream.
While mermaiding has been a form of cosplay for quite some time, the sport was conceived in the Philippines just a few years ago. Henault—armed with a business degree and her monofin instructor license—launched her Montreal-based company in January but, already, AquaMermaid is the largest mermaid academy in North America. Her Toronto-based lessons kick off at Jimmy Simpson pool starting July 5 and are open to all merpeople, regardless of body type, age, or gender.
We were offered the chance to get a sneak peak into Henault’s method this weekend. Though nervous, — equally about the prospect of embarrassment and drowning — we were excited to put these tails to the test.
Henault’s introductory lesson includes a few on-land demonstrations that look a lot like a standing version of everyone’s favourite dance move, the Worm. Master this, along with a few other mer-movements, and it’s tail time.
At first, swimming with a monofin feels anything but graceful. Binding your feet with flippers inside of a spandex casing, your mermaid tail will seem heavy, awkward, and terrifyingly anchor-like. Be patient and come to terms with that fact that, at first, you will look ridiculous and swallow a lot of pool water. Before long, you’ll be front, side, and back crawling, perhaps even moving on to more advanced moves like handstands, underwater spins, and tail flips. About a half hour into the lesson, the initial awkward laughter and panicked flailing finally pay off; the tail feels less foreign and more like a propeller. If not entirely fish-like, you are at least semi-amphibious.
The session also proved an excellent bonding experience; though we knew none of the other six participants going in, all of us were sharing laughs and cracking self-deprecating jokes by the end of it.
AquaMermaid bills itself as a core-centric workout for adults and a great way for people of all ages to improve their swimming skills. Basics conquered, this workout becomes hilariously, authentically fun. Just don’t expect it to be easy.