Relating to the underwater imagination of women, the Mermaid Workout recommends the components of a healthy lifestyle through a friendship with a popular mythical creature. “The idea for the workout is to attract the attention of women divers and bring an awareness of the importance of physical fitness to the sport of scuba diving,” said Gretchen M. Ashton, CFT, NBFE, dive fitness expert and owner of ScubaFit®.
Many aspects of diving are the same regardless of gender. However, women often dive with their husbands as their dive buddies. If their husband (or any other male diver) has an emergency, they need to be able to assist someone who is usually taller, bigger and heavier than they are. Further, while some dive equipment is geared toward the size and shape of women, weights, tanks and climbing boat ladders will always require a minimum level of physical strength. The good news is that just a couple of weight training workouts each week makes a big difference for women divers.
It is also important for women to maintain their health free from medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity. According to Divers Alert Network, (DAN) data, it appears the diver population is aging. Exercise is a great equalizer and helps women age more gracefully.
The Mermaid Workout is a balanced exercise program including aerobic exercise, resistance training and good nutrition. To maintain your current health and weight requires just three workouts per week. To lose weight requires a minimum of four workouts per week. To correct or manage medical conditions six workouts may be necessary. Unlike men who benefit from shorter, fewer and more intense workouts, women in particular, experience greater results with moderate, longer and more frequent workouts.
Mermaids exercise in the water, but women divers have many options in addition to swimming. Gym memberships, sports such as tennis, volleyball and soccer, and outdoor activities such kayaking and hiking are all excellent choices. Exercise consistently year-round, consult your physician before beginning any exercise program and seek the assistance of a fitness professional to get started.
The other day, I was talking on my shell-phone with Lucy, a mermaid friend of mine. There’s a new fitness center in my neighborhood, and I’m thinking about joining it. I’ve been walking a couple times each week at the beach. That’s where I met Lucy.
“If you are going to continue scuba diving you need to be in good physical condition. I have to swim to get everywhere I want to go, unless I just happen to catch a good current and plan to go the same direction. If you have to cross the current or swim against it, it’s a real workout.”
My beach walks are great and I don’t want to give them up. What would I do in the gym, I asked?
“Well, in the winter, when I’m in the south pacific, you could use the treadmill, elliptical or take a class like indoor cycling or aqua aerobics,” said Lucy. “Besides, you need to get cardiovascular exercise more than just twice a week.”
I would like to drop a few pounds. Especially since vacation is just a little more than a month away, I said.
Lucy chimes in,
“Yeah, me too, I can’t seem to stay away from the Lobster lately.” Seaweed salad is one of my favorites, I just get a little bored with it.”
I suggested she put a few shrimp on her salad, Lucy liked that idea.
“Healthy eating is important for losing weight, mental acuity and physical energy for exercise and sport activity like scuba diving.”
Maybe I could exercise at home instead, I said. Lucy liked that idea too.
“You could buy some free weights, a mat and a ball or a bench, and follow my workout to get started, said Lucy. “You definitely need upper body strength. Just last week I helped Mindy move into her new shipwreck. We had to move a cannon out of the stateroom. Hopefully your dive buddy isn’t as big or heavy as a cannon, but you always want to be able to help a friend in need. And remember you have to climb up a ladder and into your boat with dive gear on. Strong mussels are very important.”
Lucy is much older than I am, but you would never know it. She looks fantastic and she is never sick. I think I’ll take her advice. I haven’t decided whether I will join the gym or exercise at home. But I will start a regular workout in addition to my beach walks. Lucy asked me to let her know how it’s going. I’ll be meeting her at our favorite reef on Thursday during low tide.
Psst – I promised not to tell, but I can’t resist.
Question: Why do mermaids wear seashells?
Answer: A and B-shells are too small.
Perform aerobic exercise five days a week for at least 30 minutes. If you want to lose weight 60 minutes is recommended.
Suggested activity: Swimming, water aerobics, indoor cycling, treadmill, elliptical, group exercise classes, kayaking, jumping rope, running, walking at the beach or neighborhood park, and all-of-the-above outdoors.
Use the talk test to measure your intensity. Exercise as hard as you can while still able to carry on a conversation. For more of a challenge, work in intervals of low-intensity and moderate-intensity. For example, jump rope for one-to-three minutes, then walk for five minutes and repeat.
Complete resistance-training workouts including at least one exercise for each muscle group, two days a week for at least 30 minutes.
Suggested activity: Work all major muscles with free weights, machines or bands: chest, back, shoulders, arms (triceps, biceps,) abdominals, legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus, calves) and low back. You may want to purchase a book or hire a personal trainer to learn exercises.
To get more results from your workouts, do a 10-minute warm-up followed by your resistance training, then complete your aerobic exercise. This sequence follows natural muscle energetics in your body and you are more likely to use fuel efficiently, (burn fat better) by exercising this way.
Consume lean protein like fish and chicken, and nine servings (1/2 cup is a serving) of vegetables and fruit (at least three different colors) every day.
Eat six small meals each day. Make sure to have a meal or snack one-hour before your workout, and a small snack (protein drink or piece of fruit) within 30-minutes after your workout. About an hour to 90 minutes later, have a regular meal.
Avoid starchy and processed carbohydrates and sugar as much as possible.
Sip water throughout the day and especially before and during your workout.
IMPORTANT: Consult your physician for a complete medical examination before beginning any exercise program. ScubaFit® suggests that scuba divers get an annual medical check-up within six to eight weeks prior to their longest dive trip of the year.