According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 45 percent of dogs are overweight or obese in this country. Cats clock in at about 58 percent, and humans at 68 percent. Clearly, we could all learn something from the dogs.
Judging by the dog/human pairs I came across at rest stops on a recent trip through Indiana, I’m guessing that the 68 percent of larger-than-they-should-be humans are responsible for the nearly one-in-two chunky dogs. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the increase in the number of dog-plus-owner exercise regimens recently developed by health minded, dog loving entrepreneurs. One solution? Bootcamp.
“I was 40 pounds overweight and I started doing a bootcamp style workout. But my background was in dog training so I wanted to figure out a way that I could train my dog and get a workout at the same time,” explains Jill Bowers, founder of Thank Dog Bootcamp. “A lot of behavioral problems can be solved if the dog gets more exercise, and if your dog needs more exercise, you might as well get exercise too.”
In a Thank Dog class there are two instructors—one a dog trainer, one a personal trainer—who coach dogs and their people through an intense hour of cardiovascular and interval training. During the cardio section of the workout, everyone is in constant motion. “The dogs are getting commands the whole time,” Bowers explains. As a prerequisite, class’s four-footed attendees must first demonstrate that they know the command “Go to your mat.” They then stay tethered to their mats while the instructors lead the humans through the free weight portion of the class.
The bootcamps are currently held in Los Altos and at locations throughout Los Angeles. Most of Bowers’ clients attend five mornings a week. One human lost sixty pounds. Don’t have a dog? No problem. Bowers has ones that she will lend to clients for the class. Among them is her dog Riley, who has so far lost two pounds in the program (his before and after, above). If you want your dog to work out but you can’t make it, that too can be arranged.