Kevin Roberts and his pack feel the burn as they take on their first human/canine fitness class.
Today is gym day with the dogs – our first actual class! I packed my gym bag in a hurry, stuffing shoes, water, a change of clothes and lots of homemade liver treats in my bag. Last time was just a warm-up – this time, it’s the real deal, with other people, dogs, exercise equipment and exercises!
Our friend, Ember, wasn’t able to make it today, so it was just Andre and I with Burger and Belle.
The class started out pretty chill. When we arrived, there was one other dog there, and the place was pretty quiet (considering it’s a dog gym). We were surrounded by a variety of exercise equipment that was strategically placed around the room, accompanied by a series of chalk arrows on the floor.
“Hey,” I thought, “there might be other chalk marks on the floor by the end of the class… like where I trip over Belle and they have to make a chalk outline of my body.”
“Okay future clumsy self. Just watch your step, and you will be fine!” When I need to, I can give myself a pretty convincing pep talk.
To get things started, our instructor had everyone do a steady jog around the space. I thought for sure that Burger and Belle would see this as some sort of a race and pull us across the gym and out the door. But the dogs were calm and well behaved. Burger and Belle got into the rhythm of the class, and we fell into a comfortable cantor. Once we were warmed up, it was time to get to our workout stations.
Each station is set up so that human and dog are working out together – that means that you’re doing something together, the dog is watching you, or you are guiding your dog through an exercise. Our first station was a series of hoops. Belle was to sit and stay as I called her through the hoops. Belle loves jumping through hoops, and these were situated low to the ground – just the way she likes it. When it was time to switch, I had to do a series of squats, while Belle sat and watched (and I’m pretty sure she was giggling under her breath). To keep it interesting, and to keep her focus, every time I squatted down, I gave her a treat. Belle really likes squats! I was feeling the burn and she was feeling the drool!
My husband was assigned to a station that had him lunging with a medicine ball. Burger lay on the floor next to him, super calm, wagging his tail in encouragement. I was only a little surprised that he didn’t try to eat the ball!
After a few minutes it was on to the next station. The humans got to work our core, legs and arms. The dogs got to work on their core, legs, and confidence. Asking a dog to navigate a balance board or balance on a Bosu ball is really tricky! But as soon as the dog shows just a little improvement, we lavished them with treats and praise. After two minutes, Belle, who had never been on a Bosu ball, was sitting up on her hind legs, balancing perfectly and smiling away.
Not every exercise was so easy for the dogs. Burger is confident, but he’s also huge. It’s a bit of a challenge to get him to sit on a platform. He wants to do it, but there are just some places he can’t go… and it turns out, on top of a small platform is one of them. As for Belle, she can be a picky dog. She either loves something or doesn’t. She was less than impressed when I was doing jumping jacks. She didn’t want to watch me sweat – instead, she’d rather visit the instructor, which made it difficult for me to jump around. I had to think on my feet – I grabbed a treat ball, and let her play with it while I finished off my jumping jacks. Problem solved!
The class ended all too quickly, and we did some cool down stretches with the dogs. Burger and Belle were exhausted, and Andre and I were looking way more buff than we did at the start of the class (or so I tell myself.
Now that the first class is under our belts and we’re feeling confident about our human-canine workout partnership, we can’t wait to see what the next furry fitness excursion will have in store for us.
Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: “Get outside and play with your dogs!”