Workout Meets Fantasy at Ihilani Resort

Tap your inner Mermaid

Photo by Kurt Chambers

Workout Meets Fantasy at Ihilani Resort

If the best exercise regimens are those that appeal most to peoples’ imaginations, then mermaid Kariel certainly stands to garner a healthy following. Yep, you read it right: Mermaid.

Let’s back up. When I was a little girl, I drew pictures of unicorns and would pretend to swim like a mermaid at the local pool. While I let go of the notion of ever getting to experience such mythical creatures, one Oahu resident did not. What started as a longstanding Halloween costume tradition has transformed her passion for the ethereal underwater world in to a real life career—one that helps people burn calories, to boot.

Mermaid Kariel teaches a "Fins to Fitness" class every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. at the Ihilani Spa in Ko Olina, O‘ahu. Participants spend the first half of the hour long class on the pool deck, learning proper swim techniques that help maximize in-pool workouts. Afterwards, they are transformed into mermaids (or mer-men) with the aid of a specially constructed monofin (it looks like two regular snorkel fins fused together; in reality, only Kariel wears a special mermaid “outfit”—which took 400 hours to hand-make). All strokes taught and performed during the class utilize a dolphin kick (commonly used in the butterfly stroke in competitive swimming).

This type of movement has been proven to focus almost entirely on the core—just as the Stand Up Paddleboard and pilates crazes—making for potentially rock-hard abs; something mermaid Kariel certainly isn’t lacking. And while the execution of these strokes isn’t easy, Kariel (and her assistant) swim alongside all participants to insure both their safety and correct usage of the moves.

As if the opportunity to see a real life mermaid and possibly relive a few distant fantasies wasn't enough, the promise of a solid and genuinely unique workout near the blue lagoons of Ko Onlina might be just want Santa ordered this holiday season (hint hint fellas: It makes a great gift for your sweetie).

Now we can truly say: Hawaii has it all for the life aquatic!

This type of movement has been proven to focus almost entirely on the core, which makes for potentially rock-hard abs; something mermaid Kariel certainly isn’t lacking.