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I Tried It: Mermaid Fitness

There’s a reason mermaids from the pop culture canon are unbelievably fit


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Mermaid Fitness at Hotel del Coronado. | Photo by Becca Batista

You Try It!

Mermaid Fitness at Hotel del Coronado
1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado
Fridays and Saturdays through November
$20 ($15 with resident photo ID)

Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Daryl Hannah in Splash. There’s a reason mermaids from the pop culture canon are unbelievably fit (besides Hollywood’s impossibly high beauty standards). Maneuvering with that tail is an intense workout. I find that out firsthand during Hotel del Coronado’s Mermaid Fitness class, where you can don a mermaid tail for a 45-minute full-body routine created by local instructor Veronica Rohan. It’s like a cross between water aerobics and Pilates, and so popular that you should book it three weeks in advance.

We mermaids (and one merman) wriggle the colorful, stretchy fabric tails over our bathing suits before hopping into the heated pool. With a foam noodle under our armpits to keep us afloat, we swim a few laps to increase our heart rate and acclimate to our new monopod status. The motion is similar to that of the legs during butterfly stroke. It’s awkward at first, especially when making turns—I have to stop and reposition myself at each bend—and when swimming on our backs and sides. Once I focus on moving my core, the legs follow.

For arm exercises, we stand on the pool floor and push the noodle up and down, first slowly, then at rapid speed. With the water’s weight, it’s a surprising amount of resistance.

The core portion takes place sitting on the pool’s edge. We pull deep into our abs for boat pose (pictured). I can hardly maintain this position in Pilates, and with the water-soaked tail weighing me down, it’s a serious feat to keep my legs up. “We’re having auditions for Splash 2 today!” Rohan jokes. I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting a callback.

Class ends with 15 minutes of freestyle swimming. Some mermaids do handstands, others practice core moves, and I go underwater so I can nail the mermaid body-wave move. It’s fun, freeing, and a reminder that working out doesn’t have to feel like a chore. And even if you feel as graceful as a flounder, you can still work toward rock-hard abs.

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