Crash Course: Thank Dog Bootcamp does three things: strength and cardio training for you, obedience training for your dog, and making sure Fido gets a workout too. The idea is to get dogs and their owners moving and working up a sweat, all while learning basic commands and doggie etiquette. This isn’t a killer hour of cardio that will get you in shape for your next Ironman. But it is a fun, healthy, active hour to spend bonding with your four legged friend. For more information, visit the Thank Dog Bootcamp website. [line]
[left]where: Quincy Street Park, Arlington VA
perks: you workout. your dog works out. everyone goes home happy.
sweat score: 4 out of 10 [/left][right]wear: clothes fitting for the outside weather
cost: $35 drop-in, packages available[/right] [line]
The Thank Dog Bootcamp website has this to say about their mission and goals:
We are the nation’s first (and best) outdoor fitness program combining dog training, weight training and cardio training for dogs and their people. We are a one-stop fitness program where everything gets done in one hour – saving you time and money. Enlisting in our bootcamp can get you the body you’ve always wanted and a well-trained and happy dog!
Now, I know what you all must be thinking. “Hey, Meaghan, you don’t have a dog, so why in the world did you crash a dog and owner bootcamp.” Well, friends, the answer is fairly simple. Let me break it down for you. (A) I love dogs. I don’t have one, but I will jump at any opportunity to spend some QT with a four legged buddy. And (B), the purpose of this blog is to check out every single workout in this darn city. If I’ve put myself through strongman training, stripper bootcamp, and Jazzercize, then I sure as heck am going to crash this puppy. Pun totally intended.
Here’s the skinny.
I drove over to Arlington early Saturday morning and parked the car near Quincy Street Park. You can’t miss it, it’s huge. Coffee in one hand, yoga mat in the other, I slowly made my way over to the group of folks and dogs congregating off to the side of the soccer field by the tennis courts.
After awkwardly introducing myself as that “girl who didn’t bring a dog to the dog bootcamp,” I was warmly welcomed by owners and wet noses alike. It was quickly apparent that everyone is welcome here. Big dogs, little dogs, athletes, folks working on increasing their activity levels, and all sorts of wonderful in-betweens. So if you fit anywhere in that spectrum, this is your crowd.
It was then that Karen, the owner and lead trainer at Thank Dog, introduced me to my borrowed workout buddy, Rosie. “She’s the lazy one,” Karen said. I mean, look at her face people. Look at it. As much as I tried to bring some pep into the process, she just wasn’t digging this whole “working out before 9 a.m.” thing. I hear ya girl. Sometimes you just have to close your eyes, burry your head, and pretend you’re back in your cozy bed until it’s all over.
Too bad the “I don’t see you, you don’t see me, so I can’t do any more wind sprints” approach doesn’t exactly work. Nice try, Rosie.
Okay, so the class begins with a warm up jog around the block, with various commands called out along the way for humans and dogs. Humans should expect some lunges, side-shuffles, and mountain climbers. For all you dogs out there reading this review, expect to sit, lie down, stay, and heel while all of this craziness is going on.
The one-hour class transitions between “human time” and “puppy time,” meaning there are dedicated segments for each. During the human time, dogs will be tethered next to their owners and expected to lie down or sit for the duration. In other words, they get box seats to the show as you do a series of weighted exercises targeting the legs, arms, and abs.
Karen is great about coming around to each person, correcting form, offering encouragement, and dolling out a belly rub to the dog waiting patiently by your side. She has a palpable and genuine enthusiasm for what she does, and from what this non-dog owner can tell, she’s good at it. The dogs listen and learn from her. And the rest of us humans had a sweaty time trying to keep up.
Back to the crash. As I mentioned before, the human boot-camp portion was not the hardest workout I’ve ever done, but that isn’t necessarily the aim of this class. It does provide a full body workout that can be modified to fit any fitness goal. Want to make it harder? Run faster, do more reps, add more weight. Just happy to be outside and enjoying the class? You can do that too!
I will say this: there is a lot to fit into an hour and you will be moving the entire time. It’s not a sedentary experience by any means. You will run sprints, work on your pushups, hop into a few jumping jacks, lunge, and play around outside. All the while your dog is learning important commands, socializing with you and other dogs, and getting in a great workout.
The class ends with some key stretches and last minute commands. Nothing like doing a few upward and downward-facing dogs next to the real deal. Meanwhile, the dogs enjoyed one last chance to “sit,” “stay,” and “lie down.”
What a fun way to spend an hour of your weekend! Thanks to Karen, her dogs Rosie and Sasha, and the rest of the crew for inviting me to crash Thank Dog Bootcamp. If there’s ever a pup in need of a workout buddy in the future, I hope you all know who to call : )