Sunday, 8 December 2013

Mermaid Fitness

Well, I'm home sick as a dog this weekend and Monday, so I decided to work on this blog post I've been wanting to share for a while!

I often get asked what I do for a fitness routine to help me be swim as a mermaid! Before I get into it I want to give you these two disclaimers: 1. I am not a fitness professional and I don't replace one. Always consult a professional. 2. My experience may be very different than yours. I cope with mobility issues and chronic pain. Now that that's out of the way, let's get into it shall we?

First I want to give you a bit of my history....

I wasn't really fit as a kid or a teenager. I was sick a lot, really gangly (weighed no more than 100lbs which was underweight for my height). I had no tone, and a crazy metabolism that let me eat whatever I wanted. I never realized I had a fitness problem until I was diagnosed with several health conditions, and had my body accessed.

When my body was accessed, it was found I had a serious weakness on the left side of my body. Most people have a weakness but mine was severe. I had fine motor control problems that were troubling, and a very limited range of motion. I also had a lot of leg pain, dizziness, and chest/throat pain whenever I tried to do cardio. My balance was absolutely terrible. I also had scoliosis which was cause some muscle and skeletal strain on my body.

My fitness journey started out slow. My merwrangler Sean had been going to the gym since he was a teenager, so I decided to start going with him. I got myself a personal trainer and put her in contact with my  doctors. I was seeing a physical therapist, getting massage, and doing training every second day. It wasn't easy at first. I'd never been to a gym, I was very uncoordinated, and thanks to medication I really didn't see any results. But my doctor assured me it was helping.

Fast forward 6 years (I'm serious!) and things have changed for the better. I'm much stronger, coordinated, balanced, and toned. I lost 15lbs too. Medication had a lot to do with some of my symptoms and once I got healthy I really started noticing changes at the gym. Addressing my health conditions helped too.

So what do I do now, to stay in shape for my gigs and manage my chronic pain? Well, I do swim 2-3 times a week in my tail already with gigs. Every day I also do 20 crunches, and basic stretching before bed and when I wake up.

Every second day I go to the gym for at least an hour. Once in a while I go everyday. I work different muscle groups but I tend to do certain patterns. Cardio is really important to swimming. It builds up your stamina which in turn helps your breath hold! I start with cardio. I do 30 minutes or burn 500 calories. Whichever I get to first. It loosens up my joints, gets my blood flowing, and gives me a good kick of energy to use the other machines. I currently do most of my cardio on this type of machine:

I love it. It's not quite an elliptical. And I have tried all the other cardio machines and this one works the best with my chronic pain. It also burns the most calories for me. I can max it out on good days too which is cool. :) It's called an Adaptive Motion Trainer.

After my cardio, I move on to the machines. Now, mermaiding can be very hard on your hips and if you're female, your pelvic floor. The undulating motion moves things around, and it's easier than you'd think to displace your hip or pull a muscle in that general area. So I use these machines to work my hips, and they also help your pelvic floor:

You cant push yourself too hard. Or you will pull some muscles. I usually do two sets of 15. You don't want to strain to the point your legs are shaking. Keep it simple. Do both machines so you work the inside and outside of your hips.

I also do crunches but sometimes working the ab machines is good too. You use your abs a LOT when mermaid swimming and when posing. You want them to be strong! I find the follow machines the most effective:

I also do free weights. You dont necessarily need a lot of arm strength to be a mermaid because when swimming properly your arms don't do much of the work! But I like to keep mine toned, and also many of the machines work your pecks and back at the same time. In addition to free weights, I use these machines:

I do certain stretches suggested by my physical therapist. I use resistance bands, weight balls, and foam rollers to help. But I also do certain yoga poses that help with mermaid swimming. The ones I use frequently are:

I really believe that fitness is the key to preventing your own injury and body stress while swimming as a mermaid tail. I also wind down my workout sessions by lying on the mats working on my breath hold. I hope some of the ideas help you figure out your own workout routine that will help you move in your mermaid tail and prevent injury!

Meditation can also help you with your breath holding and is great for your health in general!

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