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Get Healthy With Your Pet — At a Doggy Gym

By Colleen Williams
published: September 12, 2014 - updated: December 8, 2023 • 3 min. read

Key Takeaways

  • Pet gyms are opening nationwide and offer ways to work out with your pet.
  • K9 Fit Club in Chicago offers classes focusing on commands and obedience training.
  • Fit BERNAL Fit in San Francisco offers pet care while pet parents work out.
  • Frolick Dogs in Alexandria, Virginia offers a canine sports club with wellness classes.
  • Thank Dog! Bootcamp in Los Angeles combines workouts and dog obedience in a bootcamp setting.

People often say pets take after their pet parents: look, demeanor, you name it. Unfortunately, health issues also tend to be shared. With nearly one-third of Americans suffering from obesity in the United States, pets are following suit. According to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 52 percent of American dogs are overweight or obese, while the same can be said for 57 percent of the cat population in America. The good news is that behaviors can be changed and pets and their parents can work together to lead a healthier lifestyle.

One way both pets and their parents can get fit and lose weight is to hit the gym. A wave of pet gyms are springing up across the country and most of them offer ways for parents and their pets to get healthy side by side.

Dog Bootcamp
Image via Thank Dog! Bootcamp

“You have to do it together, so you strengthen the human-animal bond,” Tricia Montgomery, founder and president of Chicago’s K9 Fit Club told Today. “We as the pet owner must be the one to get our dogs motivated and moving by working out with them.”

Here’s a look at four pet-focused fitness clubs across the country and the services they offer:

1. K9 Fit Club, Chicago, IL

Montgomery founded Fit Club after losing 130 pounds by working out with her dog. Today, K9 Fit Club offers classes for pets and pet parents as well as certification programs for folks who would like to create a K9 Fit Club in their own area. Montgomery says that pairing healthy behavior with pet interaction is an important step to weight loss for both two-legged and four-legged club members. Classes include cardio, agility and strength training, while also focusing on obedience training and commands. K9 Fit Club currently has locations in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Massachusetts.

Protect your pet

2. Fit BERNAL Fit, San Francisco, CA

This Bay Area gym offers more than the usual child day care options of many neighborhood gyms. It also offers pet care while pet parents get their workout in. Fit BERNAL Fit was one of the first gyms in the nation to offer dog day care in 2009. Most pet parents are busy and often have to opt for a walk with Fido or a visit to the gym — rarely both. Either way, one of these activities gets the short end of the stick. At Fit, pet parents can work out while Fit employees play with dogs and take them for walks. Fit also offers a dog lounge for dogs to play and socialize.

3. Frolick Dogs, Alexandria, VA

Frolick has found a solid following in the greater Washington, D.C. area. The “canine sports club” boasts 6,000 square feet of air-conditioned space for dogs to run, jump, get groomed, board and attend wellness classes with their pet parents. Frolick takes the focus off the pet parent’s gym activities a bit more than some of the other pet gyms profiled here, but it’s wellness-first attitude makes it a welcome addition to most dogs’ daily routines.

4. Thank Dog! Bootcamp, Los Angeles, CA

At Thank Dog! your pet is your workout partner. Founder Jill Bowers thought of the idea while losing 40 pounds at a (human-only) workout bootcamp. She soon learned that lack of exercise is the top reason for behavioral problems in dogs, and realized that her wellness is equally as important as her pets’. Enter Thank Dog! The bootcamp’s goal is simple yet meaningful, pairing dog and fitness trainers together to reach its goals: “Thank Dog! Bootcamp’s mission is to transform the lives of people and their dogs by providing a unique and challenging, yet fun fitness program that combines body workouts and dog obedience for the healthy success of both man and his best friend.”

Of course, there is a cost factor to all of these gyms, but many pet parents are willing to pay. Americans happily spent billions on their pets last year. These gyms not only help pet parents get healthy, they keep pets active — a great preventative measure for future costly health issues that could arise for humans and pets alike.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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