Getting Fit with Fido

Hecht (left) and Darcy run on a local trail.Getting fit can be a fight; however having a buddy to workout with can make the struggle a little less daunting. You may be asking yourself, ‘Where do I find said buddy?’ The truth for some of you is that your ideal fitness partner may be at the end of a short leash.

Working out with your dog is a great way to stay in shape and offers many health benefits to both you and Fido. Whether it’s a game of fetch at the dog park or a run down Monument Avenue, getting fit with a four legged friend may be the secret to success when it comes to sticking with a workout routine. RVA offers a set of unique opportunities for those looking to include their pooch (and no, we aren’t just talking about your beer belly) in their exercise routine.

“It gets me out the door,” said Faith Hecht, Youth Program Coordinator at Sports Backers, and recent adopted mother to a lab mix named Darcy. “She needs the exercise because I have to leave her in the house for a couple hours a day. It pushes me to get a run in for her and for me, and then I don’t feel guilty.”

Hecht does caution that the first few running experiences with your canine may not be so smooth; however once they stop sniffing around and get the hang of things it’s really enjoyable.

You can start with some easy lead in activities such as substituting fetch for a game of chase. Get your heart rate going as fast as your pup’s legs! Running some quick laps around the backyard is also an ideal way to get your pup to follow you. Break out an old t-shirt or a rope and get in on some tug of war action. You’ll be surprised at the resistance training you’ll undergo on your end! Hide and seek with your pooch is another equipment free way to get moving. Sit in waiting with a treat, and maybe even switch it up and run when you’re discovered.

Some of our favorite dog-friendly activities in the Commonwealth:

  • From Barker Field to Dory Park, has your complete list of the best dog parks in the city.
  • Both the Ashland Farmers Market (May – October, 9 a.m. to Noon) and South of the James (8 a.m. – Noon) allow pets. And you’ll get to pick up some healthy and local food finds while you’re there.
  • James River Park Systems feature great views of the river and surrounding trails. Dog friendliness varies by location, so be sure to check ahead of time!
  • Trade RVA’s urban setting for a day trip out to Pocahontas State Park.
  • Get your pup ready for pool season with a session at Alpha Dog Club. The unique facility has treadmill workouts, doggy massages and swimming classes.
  • Stony Point Fashion Park welcomes dogs…but they’re probably not allowed inside the Tiffany’s or Louis Vuitton. However, a power walk and window shop session can be a wonderful post-work outing.
  • For those seeking a challenge 2014 Dominion Riverrock offers the Eukanuba Filthy 5k Mud Run with a Ruffwear Dog Wave! Sign up before May 16! Assuming Fido isn’t worn out after crushing the trails, register for the Subaru Ultimate Air Dogs too. Can’t make Riverrock? catch the SPCA Dog Jog next March!