Mermaid swimming classes has been around for some time now (circa 2010) but only recently started trending amongst children and wait-for-it, adults. It’s a global fad that’s becoming more and more popular by the day, including Asia where there are mermaid swimming classes aplenty for children and adults to live their dream, or to simply get fit! Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego has launched Mermaid Fitness (to coincide with the hotel’s beachfront location and SoCal persona) — a high-energy water aerobics class utilizing colourful mermaid tails and a stunning private pool. During summer they offer water aerobics class where fitness instructors will guide you through a 45-minute fusion of swimming, core, cardio and strength training set to upbeat music. Other schools and classes for mermaid swimming lessons around the world include Australia, Canada, UK , Germany, Spain, Thailand. These classes usually come with certifications (that can be used internationally) and also different levels of learning to cater for all kinds of students; women, men and children and their abilities.
“The benefits of mermaid swimming are manifold. Physically, it’s a great workout, as it powerfully activates your abs, glutes, back, and arms,” says Singapore’s first mermaid swimmer and instructor at Singapore Mermaid School, Syrena. “Psychologically, it gives you a great boost as well, who wouldn’t want to be a strong, powerful, gorgeous mythical creature skimming gracefully through the water? It can be incredible for self esteem – I’ve seen ladies who are a little more shy and retiring blossom into beautiful, confident mermaids.” The basic movement of the mermaid undulation is fairly similar to the butterfly stroke/dolphin kick. The only physical differences are that you have a monofin on your feet to help propel you through the water; your legs are bound together by a shimmering tail, and is often experimented with different arm placements that allow one to look more graceful underwater.
“It’s a fun and whimsical way to keep fit. It’s a low impact cardio excercise, which means it’s easy on your joints, and since it’s fun it doesn’t feel like a chore unlike going to the gym,” says Anamie Saenz, Co- founder of Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy (PMSA). Naomi, an instructor at The Mermaid Mission (Malaysia’s first and only mermaid swimming academy) that has trained more than 300 mermaids and still counting says that it’s a fantastic way to keep fit, and works to tone those core muscles while you have fun making it a win-win situation.
As to how mermaid swimming started becoming a trend, specifically in Asia, Syrena says that it’s the incessant fascinations with these mythical creatures. “Asia has always been slightly different, because we were brought up with different values. We tend to err on the side of being conservative, of sticking with the safe and sure, and of being understandably cautious of anything too “out there”. That being said, I have seen a pronounced difference in the Asian market’s reception to mermaids now, as compared to when I first began. Maybe it’s just the changing of the times. When I first began my mermaid career in Singapore, nobody had heard of such a thing, and everyone was understandably concerned and cautious. Now, though, the reception has blossomed and is truly beautiful: we have more and more mermaid lovers coming out of the proverbial woodwork to share their love for mermaids, or becoming hobbyist mermaids.” She also thinks that ‘mermaiding’ has a great potential to become even bigger in Asia. “Coupled with the fact that ‘mermaiding’ is a great way to get fit and add some sort of long-lost magic and intrigue into our uber urban lives, I think that that’s a potent combination.”
Risks & Concerns
Just as there are concerns to everything, there are also a few risks to mermaid swimming. There have been many misconceptions whereby people think it’s just as easy as putting on a mermaid tail and jumping into the water. “A mermaid tail, while beautiful, and while it can be a powerful swimming aid when used correctly – can very quickly become an extremely real safety and drowning hazard if used incorrectly under the wrong/absent guidance,” Syrena says. Mermaid swimming classes must be conducted by certified professionals, who are able to build solid foundations in safety and confidence before gradually progressing into ‘mermaiding’ techniques. “At the Singapore Mermaid School, we safeguard against this by hosting a progressive, multi-tiered syllabus. We’re very big on safety, so we make a conscious effort to keep our classes small so that every student can learn in a safe, watchful environment.”
The Mermaid Mission has another approach to ensure the safety of all students, “We do ask that students have the capability to swim safely without assistance. Before the first class officially kicks off, students will be assessed on whether you can swim 200m with any style in a normal sized pool unassisted. At first, all aspiring mermaids will start off using floatation aids to practice dolphin kick which is the ‘mermaid style kick’. After stabilizing the dolphin kick they will be able to start to use separate rubber fins to help them get accustomed to swimming mermaid-style, before kicking off without any floaters at all,” explains Naomi. “Mermaid swimmers have described their swimming experiences as “free”, “graceful”, “magical”, and “powerful”. Swimming as a mermaid can be such an immeasurably empowering motion. It’s hard to put into words. When you’re under the water, your tail propelling you through the water, you feel such a sense of peace and power,” says Syrena on what her students’ experiences.
Mermaid swimming schools and academies all around the would take pride in core values that are found in mermaid culture and lore like beauty, strength and grace. “We believe that this trend will continue to grow as more people see it as more than just wearing a costume and swimming, not just for oneself but also for others and the environment. We challenge students to push themselves and overcome fears at the same time make sure that they are having fun.” states Anamie. “We’re big on practicing these values in-class and in our own lives. They’re great reminders that, as a mermaid, you have a responsibility to carry yourself differently, to walk the less trodden path, to know your own strength and beauty and to strive to see it in others,” claims Syrena.
For more information, you can look up The Mermaid Mission at https://www.facebook.com/themermaidmission, PMSA at http://www.philippinemermaidswimmingacademy.com/, and Singapore Mermaid School at http://www.themermaidsyrena.com/.