California bootcamps gets dogs and their owners into shape

Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:56pm EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - With obesity rates on the rise among Americans and their pets, two Californian women have come up with an all-in-one solution -- a doggy bootcamp where dog owners and their canine friends work out together.

Thank Dog Bootcamp is the nation's first outdoor fitness program where both humans and dogs get a full body workout while the pooches also learn basic obedience skills.

Founded two years ago by identical twins Jill and Jamie Bowers, the program has grown to include classes at various Los Angeles and Orange County locations. Earlier this year, Northern California locations have also began to open up.

Classes begin as early as 6 a.m. with instructors in urban-camo pants yelling out drill-like commands in the traditional bootcamp style.

The difference here is that instructors are certified in both fitness and dog training, and each bootcamper happens to have a four-legged partner by their side at all times. "People need to exercise, and dogs need to be trained and exercised," said Jill Bowers.

"When you can do both at the same time in one hour before you even start your day, you can't beat it."

Newcomers begin with a one-on-one consultation and obedience lesson. If you don't have a dog, you can borrow one from bootcampers who have more than one dog.

The class takes place on a field in a public park with 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weight training. Each person has a mat with weights and bands. Their dog has its own mat and water bowl beside their owner.   Continued...

<p>Founder Jill Bowers shouts instructions through a megaphone to owners and their dogs as they work out during the Thank Dog! Bootcamp fitness class in Burbank, California, June 18, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>