Canadian woman starts 'mermaid school'

Canadian woman starts 'mermaid school'

MONTREAL - Ms Marielle Chartier Henault, a 24-year-old business school graduate and part-time underwater model, launched the AquaMermaid Academy in her native Montreal earlier this month.

She also plans to open another school in Toronto to offer two-legged folks a taste of life under the sea, reported The Toronto Star.

"It's just a fairy tale in everyday life," said Ms Henault, who got the idea during an underwater photo shoot in which she posed as one of the mythical sea creatures.

"I really liked that experience and I thought it was a really good workout."

When a friend sent her a link to a YouTube video of mermaid swimming lessons in Germany, she was convinced to start her first business venture, reported Montreal Gazette.

AquaMermaid classes are based on synchronised swimming techniques. To warm-up, students lie on their sides practising the abs-intensive "undulation movement". When they are ready, they make their way underwater with their legs bound by a scaly spandex tail.

"At the beginning, people feel like it's a bit harder because they're not used to their legs tied together," Ms Henault, who has been swimming since she was six months old, told the Toronto Star.

But after an hour or so, most people get the hang of it. "It's not rocket science," she added.

The students in the Montreal academy range from seven-year-olds "who want their dreams to come true" to older women looking to tone their midsection and to parents and kids who want to bond.

Ms Henault told the Montreal Gazette: "People are always looking for new sports, new activities, something different.

"A lot of little girls don't like sports but if you let them be a mermaid, they get into it and don't realise it's a sport.

"It's the fantasy of being a mermaid. With swimming sometimes, people go and it's boring and normal but when you add something, you become a character. It's like acting."

The swimmers learn to breathe through a tube similar to that used in scuba diving, so they don't need to hold their breath for uncomfortable periods of time.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Swimming as a mermaid comes with health benefits like cardio and core engagement.

Toronto fitness expert Sarah Robichaud said the class, which works the core, glutes and upper body, is best suited to athletic people.

"This is for somebody who already has decent cardio because of the breathing itself. People who are out of shape are going to have real trouble in the water," she told the Toronto Star.

While Ms Robichaud believes traditional swimming techniques are better for overall fitness, mermaid school is better than nothing.

"If the gimmick of putting on a mermaid costume gets you in the pool and off the couch, I'm 100 per cent in favour of that."


This article was first published on Feb 24, 2015.
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