HEALTH – Work out like a dog

– World’s first fitness boot camp launches where humans exercise like DOGS –

Chasing a ball and bringing it back again and again (and again), dashing around aimlessly, having a good old dig: it may sound like ideal walkies material for dogs, but for participants of new fitness bootcamp Work Out Like A Dog, it’s strictly humans doing the retrieving. That’s because Work Out Like A Dog is the world’s first exercise class in which humans exclusively exercise like dogs.

The slightly barking bootcamp, which has been created by national pet charity Blue Cross and qualified PT and fitness instructor Born Barikor, is designed to get humans to understand and appreciate the health benefits that dogs get from their favourite outdoor activities – by literally having people take on the role of dogs!

All of the exercises in the 45-minute aerobic and conditioning workout for humans have either been adapted from a dog’s favourite exercises or have been directly inspired by man’s best friend. They include HIIT ball fetch, tug-of-war, Frisbee and even having humans mimic a dog’s bag of tricks as part of a circuit routine.

The class was commissioned by the charity to raise awareness of how exercise keeps dogs healthy and happy, as high numbers of dogs arrive at the Blue Cross centres across the country due to behavioural needs stemmed from under-stimulus or lack of appropriate activities and exercise.

Work Out Like A Dog combines full-body strength training with high intensity cardio bursts to tone, improve endurance and fill participants with positive energy – in much the same way that regular exercise helps our four-legged friends stay not just physically but emotionally healthy too. View a trailer here [https://youtu.be/2IxXUrcFaM0].

The Work Out Like A Dog class breakdown:

·       WARM UP (8mins): consisting of agility, obstacle course and hurdle exercises

·       TRICK CIRCUIT (10mins): get up, down, rollover, sit, and stay your way through squats, planks and more

·       GAMES (15 mins): a round of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) ball fetching, frisbee and tug-of-war

·       COOL DOWN(WARD) DOG (3-4 mins): stretch and end with a Howl of Happiness!

The bootcamp will be running daily from Monday 30th January to Friday 3rd February at 7.30am in Victoria Park, meeting at the Park Pavilion. Spots are available to book via EventBrite [https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/work-out-like-a-dog-tickets-31159664395] with a suggested donation of £5 to Blue Cross. There is also a workout sheet available to download from [https://www.bluecross.org.uk/workout] for those who can’t make it to the classes.

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Sarah Dickinson, Head of Media Relations from Blue Cross added “We hope the Work Out Like A Dog bootcamp will be an eye-opener for dog owners and would-be dog owners. Humans can communicate when they feel frustrated or want a change of scenery; if they need to let off steam with a good long run they just head out and do it. By contrast most pet dogs are completely reliant on us picking up signals that they require some stimulation or have to spend some energy. This workout should remind everyone what a huge emotional and physical difference it can make when we get that right!

“Every year we take in high numbers of dogs from often heartbroken owners of pets with behavioural problems ranging from being mischievous to destructive and even aggressive. While each case is unique and complex, in a number of them issues arise from the pet being under-stimulated or frustrated, and we can see improvements when they start getting the right amount of play and exercise. That’s why, in addition to the clinical and rehoming work Blue Cross does we want to educate owners too; the more informed they are, the better equipped they’ll be to give their pets a long, healthy and happy life in a forever home.”

PT Born Barikor explained “Anyone would agree that in addition to losing weight or toning up, regular exercise acts as an incredible release for pent-up energy or stress. We weren’t designed to spend all day cooped up and sedentary – and neither were our furry friends! With Work Out Like A Dog we wanted participants to channel the joy a dog feels playing their favourite games in the park, as well as the physical benefits.”

Behavioural experts from Blue Cross have devised some top workout tips for dog lovers:

1.  Swot up! Different breeds enjoy different activities; labradors love to retrieve so fetch is perfect, while huskies were bred to run, so are likely to enjoy joining you on a jog. Even mixed breeds inherit strong instincts, so do your homework to ensure your dog gets the most from its walks, and try different games to see what they enjoy doing most.

2.   How fit is your dog already? If they aren’t used to vigorous exercise, they’ll need to work up to it. Older may dogs have less stamina and be more prone to injury. If in doubt, ask your vet.

3.  Know when to stop. Remain vigilant even if your dog is young and fit; some won’t want playtime to end, even if they’re exhausted. If you see signs your dog is tired start to wind them down. Walk home at a gentle pace; they benefit from post-workout cool-downs too!

4.  Have the right kit: Use toys which are designed for dogs, as some (such as frisbees) created for humans may have features which could hurt your dog. Buy from a specialist pet supplier to be sure. Also use the correct sized toys – large dogs can choke on small toys. Have water with you, especially in warm weather.

5.   Play safe. Only ever let your dog off the lead in large open spaces, away from roads, and if you are confident it will come when called. Stay conscious of other dogs nearby.

6.   Don’t forget to HAVE FUN! This is great bonding time for you and your dog, enjoy yourselves! (And you might even get a bit fitter to boot.)

You can learn more about breeds, recall training, socialising and exercising your dog here: www.bluecross.org.uk/workout and can rehome one of the many different breeds and cross-breeds waiting for homes at Blue Cross at bluecross.org.uk

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