A reliable workout buddy is hard to find, but if you're a pet owner, chances are you've already got one waiting by your front door.
"They want to please you and they're always ready to go," said Tricia Montgomery, who founded Hinsdale-based K9 Fit Club in 2012 and teaches dog-friendly fitness classes around the city. "Tell me the last time your dog said, 'Hey, I went out to John Barleycorn last night and I have a really bad hangover and I can't make it today.' "
RedEye found ways you and your dog can break a sweat—or a pant—as you lap up the last month of summer.
Fetch a class
Montgomery, who started her club after shedding 130 pounds working out with her own dog, and a fellow trainer lead hourlong workouts for people and their dogs at Montrose Harbor (601 W. Montrose Ave., 630-920-1476) every other Saturday morning. The $15 classes include vet-approved cardio, weight training and balance work (and belly rubs for canine participants).
Shorter Saturday afternoon classes are also available at the Anti-Cruelty Society (157 W. Grand Ave., 312-644-8338), where proceeds benefit the shelter. With the launch of K9 Fit Club's new trainer certification program this month, Montgomery said more classes are being added all the time. For information or to sign up for a class, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go for a run
Not all dogs are runners—breeds such as bulldogs and pugs can have trouble breathing, dogs with darker coats overheat easier and others just don't like it. But experts say it can be a great outlet for high-energy pups. Greta Kauffman of dog-running service Chicago Dog Runner said her favorite routes include the less-trafficked branches of the main lakefront bike path; the North Shore Channel Trail; and the lagoons of Humboldt Park. Kauffman advises bringing plenty of water for the dog and letting him or her run in the grass alongside the trails, instead of on the hot cement.
Rather run in a pack? Volunteers at PAWS Chicago and members of the shelter's Team PAWS fundraising running club hold weekly evening runs with PAWS shelter dogs from the PAWS Adoption Center (1997 N. Clybourn Ave., 773-935-7297). Team PAWS runners also get together with their own dogs throughout racing season (May-October) and jog three to five miles as a group. To find out more about volunteering or joining Team PAWS, visit pawschicago.org.
Give a new dog a treat
At Chicago Animal Care and Control (2741 S. Western Ave., 312-409-4790), volunteers who have completed special training can take part in bimonthly Bow Wow fitness classes with shelter and "court case" dogs (victims of neglect or abuse who have been rescued by police and animal control) through Safe Humane Chicago, trainer Diana Ozimek said. The outdoor classes are especially important for the animals who often aren't used to being touched or socialized in a positive way. To learn more about volunteering, visit safehumanechicago.org.
Editor's note: Dogs overheat much easier than humans do, so experts recommend avoiding strenuous activity outdoors if temperatures reach the high 70s or above.
YOUR OWN NEW TRICKS
Grab a leash and venture out on your own with these canine-human exercises from dog trainers Tricia Montgomery and Diana Ozimek. "Some of the smaller, interior parks that have walking trails and benches are perfect because you can use the benches for a variety of things for you and your dog like dips, step-ups and piston squats," Ozimek said.
Forward and back jogs
Jog forward with your dog at your side. At a chosen or marked spot, quickly change to a backward jog and tell your dog "come!"
Face your dog. Your dog should be sitting. Perform a reverse lunge, at the bottom of each lunge ask your dog for their paw or "shake." Release the dog's paw as you return to standing. Repeat on the other side and see if your dog will give you the other paw. Repeat for 20 reps.
Place your back against a wall and your legs bent to 90 degrees or slightly higher. For a more advanced option, hold your dog, if they are small, or place their paws on your lap. The increased weight will be an extra challenge for your legs. Hold the wall sit for up to 1 minute or longer.
Ask your dog to move between a sit and a down position five times.Copyright © 2015, RedEye