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JoAnna Lou
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Gym for People and Pups
Chicago club holds exercise classes for dog lovers

I've made many exercise pacts with friends over the years and all of them eventually succumbed to busy schedules and sheer laziness. But I have two exercise partners who are always up for a run or hike—my dogs Scuttle and Nemo.

After I was coming off of an injury that left me sidelined for months, Nemo was the one who started running with me again, a little at a time. It didn't matter if I had to run after work in the dark or on my day off in the pouring rain, Nemo would happily join me every time. We eventually went on to complete the Iams Doggy Dash at the New York City Triathlon. I couldn't ask for a better exercise partner!

20 years ago, Tricia Montgomery and her Basset Hound, Louie, were both diagnosed with obesity. It gave her the wake up call she needed to start exercising regularly with Louie. Tricia eventually lost 135 pounds and Louie lived a long, healthy life. The experience inspired Tricia to create the K9 Fit Club in Chicago last year.

The Club's classes feature workouts designed to be completed alongside your dog—walking squats with the pups on leash and situps with small dogs laying on people's stomachs.

While most come for the weight loss benefits, many have found other reasons to stay. K9 Fit Club member Cindy Rodkin lost 57 pounds, but she reports that her pup, Khaki, has become healthier and better behaved since starting class.

Erin Harvey, a member who has Down syndrome, gained newfound independence in and outside of the gym thanks to the bond she developed with her dog, Goldie, at K9 Fit Club.

Obesity is a serious problem for humans and canines The K9 Fit Club classes are a great way to get people to exercise with their pets while developing a lasting relationship apart from burning calories.

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by K9 Fit Club.

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