7960528295?profile=originalJorge Mendiola demonstrates an exercise with his golden retriever, Shaylee,

during ‘Furry Fitness,’ an exercise program developed for dogs and their owners.

Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Arden Moore

    While we are full of good intentions, many of us postpone or cancel workouts with co-workers, friends and family members. We are just too tired, too busy or too stressed to sweat.
    We have become a nation of expanding waistlines with one in three Americans deemed overweight. But the more shocking headline is that nearly one in two adult dogs is plump, sporting more waddle than wiggle. Sadly, many canine chums are following their people down the path to obesity, all the way to the last table scrap.
    Fortunately in South Florida, there’s a dog-loving fitness duo committed to making fitness fun and to bringing out the best behaviors in our best workout buddies — our dogs.
    I recently caught up with David Acosta, fitness trainer with Camp Gladiator, an outdoor fitness boot camp in Delray Beach, and Jorge Mendiola, dog trainer extraordinaire who operates All Star Dogs Inc. throughout South Florida.
    Earlier this year, Acosta was leading a fitness boot camp class outside at the Old School Square in Delray Beach when he noticed Mendiola practicing various obedience cues with his very talented young golden retriever named Shaylee and a client’s German shepherd.
    “Jorge was getting these dogs to do amazing tricks,” recalls Acosta. “The dogs were pacing quickly right beside him, making sharp turns and leaping up on cue. Everyone, including Jorge, seemed to be having fun working out.”
    Jorge noticed Acosta motivating his students through their fitness moves of planks, squats and lunges. After class, the two introduced themselves and decided to co-sponsor a Furry Fitness event, held last month at Old School Square. Their hope is that enough local people will see the benefit of working out with their dogs so that they can begin offering regular classes.
    The people-dog fitness trend is one that is catching on coast to coast. Dawn Celapino, founder of Leash Your Fitness based in San Diego, has hundreds of two- and four-legged students in her classes “co-taught” by her very fit Cairn terrier named Jack. In Chicago, Tricia Montgomery is keeping Midwesterners and their canines in shape with her company, K9 Fit Club.
    We need and deserve a people-dog workout program in Palm Beach County. This cross-species, cross-training approach yields many benefits, including:
    • The ability to walk, run, twist, bend and reach without a lot of huffing and puffing.
    • The feeling of waking up refreshed, not achy or sluggish.
    • The bolstering of your immune system to protect the both of you against infections.
    • The ability to concentrate and learn new skills (and new tricks for your dog).
    • A closer friendship and stronger communication with your dog, staving off behavior problems triggered by dogs who are bored and under-exercised.
    • Added years to your life and life to your years for you and your dog.
    • Reduced risks for such health conditions as diabetes, arthritis and heart conditions that are costly and far too prevalent among people and dogs who pack on excess pounds.
    Regular exercise unleashes endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that can be as effective as some medications prescribed to combat stress, anxiety and depression.
    Before you put on your sneakers and grab your dog’s leash for an outdoor romp, schedule an appointment with your doctor and get your dog checked out head to tail by his veterinarian.
    Acosta and Mendiola stand ready to offer plenty of fun exercises you and your dog can perform indoors and outdoors.
    The beauty of playtime with your dog is that it can occur anytime, anywhere. For the most part, your dog doesn’t require special equipment. Unlike some of your two-legged friends, your dog won’t make up a lame excuse not to join you.
    Even at age 12, my dogs, Chipper and Cleo, are raring to go for a walk with me at the drop of a leash. They also motivate me to participate in 5K9 fun runs, hiking treks and swimming at dog-welcoming beaches. Indoors, we play “I hide-you-seek” and do friendly games of tug-of-war. We also spend time learning new tricks like weaving in and out of my legs and Chipper’s favorite: puppy pushups. She plops into a down, pops up quickly into a sit and repeats this sequence several times.
    I encourage you to learn more about the quest by Acosta and Mendiola to shape up Palm Beach County by visiting www.campgladiator.com (and go to the Delray Beach location) and All Star Dogs Inc. on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AllStarDogsInc).
    
Arden Moore, founder of FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, editor, author, professional speaker and master certified pet first aid instructor. Each week, she hosts the popular Oh Behave! show on PetLifeRadio.com. Visit www.fourleggedlife.com.

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