Participants in a new fitness class at the Center for Health Improvement’s trail ran, walked, jumped and weaved through the course, tongues hanging out and tails wagging.
Leash Your Health is a class for people and their dogs. Four people and their pets took part in the inaugural class Thursday night.
Personal trainer Paul Cuellar said he runs on the center’s fitness trail with his dog frequently, as many people do, and realized that was a feature other fitness centers and gyms in town didn’t have.
He suggested the idea of a fitness class with dogs to his boss, and they began working on the idea, he said.
“I’m excited that we’re finally able to bring it to the center,” he said.
“We’ve never done anything like this before. Hopefully it will take off,” he said.
It was fairly easy to create the class, Cueller said.
“Designing the exercises wasn’t a problem for me. I’m an outdoor enthusiast and I love dogs,” he said.
Cueller’s German shepherd, Kaiba, wasn’t at Thursday’s class, but his twin, Jade, came in his place.
“The main concern was this wasn’t really a controlled environment like the dog park, and how the dogs are going to react to one another,” he said.
Dogs are required to be on leashes during the class, have their rabies shots up to date and be well-socialized.
Treats were provided by PetSense, 2508 Vine.
The class was conducted along the paved fitness trail east of the center, with several stations set up throughout with various exercises, some that dog and people could do together.
At the Russian twists with a treat stop, for example, the human can do Russian twists — a core exercise done sitting on the ground with legs extended and twisting from side to side — while encouraging their dog to move from side to side with a treat.
Another station had hula hoops.
“If the owner wants to do hula hoop in front of their dog and show off, that’s perfectly fine. If not, you can hold the hula hoop up with your treat and see if he’ll jump through,” Cueller said.
In between stations, there were small hurdles and cones set in a weaving pattern on the path. Participants can travel the course at their own pace and stop at the stations at their own discretion. Cueller said he’ll be offering different stations each week.
Michele Kieffer, Hays, brought her family’s 9-month old terrier-Chihuahua mix, Marley.
“This is really cool. I’m glad we came and checked it out,” Kieffer said.
“Next time, I’ll probably bring my husband and my child with me so they can see how she does,” she said.
Marley did well on most of the stations and obstacles.
“It’s good to get her out because she’s a very athletic dog,” she said.
T.J., a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, got more of a workout than the bigger dogs.
“He’s getting pooped. But of course, he’s gotta take four or five steps to their one,” said T.J.’s owner, Deb Stadelman, Hays.
“He won’t do the jumps because they’re kind of high. But he’s doing the cones, weaving around like he’s supposed to.”