Mind, Body, Soul: Aquatic exercise with the Red River Merman

SHREVEPORT, La. - Meet Tristan McDonald, the Red River Merman.

"I've been here about a year and a half and Shreveport has been such a nurturing city for me," McDonald explained. 

A Florida native, his story starts on stage.

A Disney performer who also toured for other productions, when he left his art behind he found himself struggling to cope.

"I had this big hole in my life," he explained. "I'm not performing. I needed to fill it. And, in my peripheral, I saw people getting into tails and starting this whole movement." 

He soon bought a tail of his very own. 

This underwater world turned out to be a perfect fit. 

"I grew up on a swim team," he said. "Ballet and swimming come together and that's kind of what you get when mermaiding." 

It's a serious workout. The warmup? Donning the tail.

"The one I'm using today is full silicone and it's quite heavy," McDonald explained.

Just the tail end of the tail weighs 27 pounds.

At this point, I was starting to get seasick. But I soon learned a basic swimmer like me can also make waves with a lightweight fabric tail. 

Swimming is one of the best workouts to build muscle and keep your heart rate up in a low impact environment. 

Swimming with a tail adds more focus on breath support, balance, grace and flexibility. 

"It helped me get out of a big depression," said McDonald. "When I'm in the water, I can really focus on my breathing. My ADD goes away." 

A peaceful underwater oasis that challenges the mind, body and soul. 

"It's really where I found myself again after losing my identity as a performer," said the Red River Merman. "And I just love this community so much." 

McDonald is now working on a new summer swim class for Arklatex residents that would include rescue safety lessons. 

You can keep up with his progress on social media: 



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