Slicing skin and breaking bones is all in a day's work for Michol Dalcourt.
A graduate of the University of Alberta's exercise sciences program, Dalcourt is the founder of the Institute of Motion, an agency that provides hands-on anatomy lessons in Phoenix, Ariz., and San Diego.
For $899 US, workshop participants can take part in guided autopsies and dissect cadavers with their own hands.
"For some, they are pleasantly surprised," he said. "Others are emotionally taken back when they find out that they themselves will have an opportunity to go in there and cut, dissect the skin and really discover firsthand what's happening inside the structure of the body."
Dalcourt — who was born and raised in Edmonton — said the flesh-and-bone lessons are geared toward fitness and health professionals, including chiropractors and physiotherapists.
"When we see anatomy depicted in a textbook, often it's geared towards trying to simplify a very complex structure," he said. "But when you open up and reflect the skin and you start to investigate biology, it really looks like a morass of different structures that are all co-mingling in what looks to be chaos.
"You really get a sense of how integrated we are. Nothing happens in isolation."
Dalcourt doesn't just make his living from the dead. Autopsies are a small part of his business, which offers programming and consulting services for the health and fitness sector.
The specialized workshops, held twice annually, usually reach capacity, with more than 50 students in each lab. Belcourt said people travel from all over North America travel to take part.
"It really is an opportunity to see what's under the skin," he said. "The bodies that we get are of a certain age group that have lived a life. We see a life lived through anatomy."