By Dr. Becker
For many of us, New Year’s resolutions always include a commitment to get in better physical shape, whether or not we also need to lose weight.
And if your canine companion is like the majority of dogs in the U.S. these days, he can probably stand to drop a few pounds or improve his muscle tone by getting more exercise.
So here’s a thought – have you considered taking an exercise class with your four-legged family member?
Feel the Burn
According to organizers of the Bark 'N' Burn class at Wag ‘N’ Tails in Shelby Township, Michigan, which features equipment specifically designed for canine exercisers, there are lots of benefits to working out with your dog.1 For example, classes can help to socialize dogs who may not get many opportunities to mix and mingle.
Another benefit is that as a dog owner, your focus will be on your pet – not on your pain. "As they're doing some of these exercises, they don't even realize that they're working out, because they were so focused on their dog," says Christine Fox, owner of Wag ‘N' Tails.
Fox’s Bark ‘N’ Burn class runs for 4 weeks, and each weekly session is an hour. The class features specialized dog-centric conditioning equipment that can be used for core strengthening, increased range of motion and flexibility, neuromuscular facilitation, sensory and perceptual stimulation, joint alignment, and balance control.2
Why Choose Between the Gym and Your Dog?
Tricia Montgomery, founder of K9 Fit Club®, developed her program after losing 130 pounds several years ago while working out with her dog, Louie.3 Her classes combine cardio, agility, and strength training, along with basic obedience training and commands.
K9 Fit Club has certified trainers in a variety of locations across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Denmark. Classes offered include an introductory class, Pupilates, Bow Wow Bootcamp, Tai Chi Wawa, and Waggin’ Wheelchair/Special Needs.4
Other programs that may offer classes in your area:
- Leash Your Fitness features a “Butts and Guts with Your Mutts” class that uses Bosu balls, TRX, and your own body weight to perform squats, step-ups, and shuffles. The class emphasizes fitness for people but also focuses on canine participation with constant commands and movements.
- Thank Dog Bootcamp combines fitness and obedience training for you and your dog. The class begins with a consultation to assess the fitness level of both you and your pup.
- Fit Dog Austin offers a bootcamp course that includes cardio-respiratory work, agility and speed work, muscular endurance, balance, and flexibility.
- Go Fetch Run offers a total-body conditioning program for you, and a stimulating experience for your dog. Their Cross-Training Fitness Circuit combines strength, agility, and cardio in a challenging class that includes circuit training, trail running, and an obstacle course.
If none of these offerings appeal to you or they aren’t available in your neck of the woods, you can still turn your pooch into your workout partner. Consider starting out with power walks, graduating slowly to prolonged aerobic exercise. When you’re short on time or the weather outside is nasty, you can take turns on the treadmill!