Obedience wasn’t on Keith Bare’s mind as much as weight. The 51-year-old from Springfield said he was there with Titus, his Tibetan terrier, to get a workout. “I want to keep me from getting fat and him from getting fat,” he said.
We started working on that by getting in a single-file line and jogging around the field. And it was our turn to be obedient as Krieg shouted out commands. We had to get our dogs to sit (we continued jogging in place) and get down (yep, still jogging), get them back up again and then let them run forward while we shuffled sideways, changed directions, and eventually made our way to home base.
Lined up along the edge of the grass were 15 pairs of mats, one for the human and a smaller one next to it for the dog. Stakes hammered into the ground let us attach the leashes, so we could free up our hands for weights or resistance bands.
I ended up right behind Jen Flach, 43, of Silver Spring and her foster, Coco, who’d come from the new rescue Presidential Pits. “I definitely get exercise with her,” Flach said. “But it’s not well-rounded exercise. Every time I try to do push-ups at home, she’s right there.”
With the anchor keeping Coco in place, Flach got the chance to do plenty of push-ups, and sit-ups and biceps curls and squats and chest flies. The format of each strength segment is to do three exercises three times. Letting people choose their weights and the number of reps keeps it accessible for all levels, says Krieg, whose mantra is “Do what you can.”
Once the dogs realized they could hang out for a while, drink some water and maybe get a treat from Shera Beck, the certified dog trainer who’s partnering with Krieg on the local program, they seemed content to wait out the weights. It was never long until we unhooked the leashes and went for another round of cardio drills.
By the end of the hour, the field was filled with a bunch of exhausted humans and mellow dogs. “I’m tired and he’s tired. I can tell from the way we’re both walking,” said Dana Mooney, 32, as she led Aiden back to her car. She and the German shepherd mix were headed to Cleveland Park and ready for a good night’s sleep.
And I was ready to turn over the leash to Krieg, although I’d happily buddy up with Rosie for another class, which might turn out to be a real possibility. Thank Dog! in Burbank offers a “borrow a dog” option, and Krieg is considering making that available here, not just with her dogs, but also with dogs from area rescue organizations.
“There are people who don’t have dogs because they can’t have them where they live,” said Krieg, who’s seen how eager these folks are to play with a pooch. When she directed the fitness program for the Labor Department, she partnered with the Washington Humane Society to let employees walk dogs at lunch, and as many people signed up to do that as came to the gym all day.
Working up a sweat just becomes more appealing when a wagging tail is involved.
How to sign up
Thank Dog! meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. at Bluemont Park (601 N. Manchester St., Arlington). Morning and weekend classes are expected to start soon. The mandatory hour-long consultation with one class is $65. Future drop-ins are $35, and there are multi-class passes available at a discount. Call 202-255-8569 or e-mail email@example.com for more information.
Krieg hopes to expand to other sites in the Washington area — Montgomery County probably will be next. But if the location is inconvenient, there’s also a Thank Dog! iPhone app (99 cents).
@postmisfits on Twitter
Hallett edits the Fit section of Express.
Also at washingtonpost.com See more photos from Thank Dog! Bootcamp and read past columns by Hallett and Lenny Bernstein at
. There, you can subscribe to the Lean & Fit newsletter to get health news e-mailed to you every Tuesday.