On the weekend Kate and I attended our first Barxercise session with Barx Active. It was great fun and a fantastic workout for both Kate and I! Barxercise sessions are circuit style classes, where you get a strength and cardio based workout, and your dog is given challenges to complete as well! I admit I was pretty nervous in the lead up as I wasn’t sure if I would be fit enough, but the workout caters for all levels of fitness so don’t be scared if you are just starting out. It really is a super fun way to get a workout, and to challenge and mentally stimulate your dog!
Barx Active is run by Karen and Dan Uden who have worked in the fitness industry for years in physiotherapy, athletics and fitness instructions. When they adopted Tux, their border collie cross, they wanted him to come on all their adventures (a sentiment I fully understand!) and involve him in all their fitness pursuits. The idea for Barx Active came about when Karen was attending Bootcamp one day and she was frustrated that as she was working out, she had to tie up Tux to a tree and let him watch instead of joining in and doing it together. So in 2013, Karen and Dan launched Barx Active – an organisation committed to helping people to live an active life, with their dog by their side! They run Barxercise (bootcamp sessions with your dog), dog friendly hikes and soon to come organised fun run events!
After finding Barx Active, I really wanted to sign up and give it a go, but a couple of fears were stopping me.
- I was pretty nervous that my fitness wouldn’t be up to scratch and I wouldn’t be able to keep up or handle the session.
- Kate wouldn’t be the well behaved perfect model of kelpie obedience I would wish on the day!
Rather than spend more time turning over these ideas in my head, I decided to call up Barx Active and find out more about what Barxercise is. After speaking to Dan my fears were allayed, the sessions are for all fitness levels and one of the main takeaways I got from our chat was that it’s not an obedience class! They expect dogs to get excited and want to run and play with the other dogs – especially the first time there! They have the dogs on leash at all times until the end when they are let off for some socialisation. Dan really conveyed to me that they are relaxed and they want you to have fun (and work hard!), so feeling much more comfortable and excited about the idea, I went ahead and booked in.
Saturday dawned bright and early and we made our way down to Ballam Park in Frankston to join other Barxercisers and their dogs! After a warm up led by Dan we moved onto the circuit where stations were set up with different equipment for both us and our dogs. Karen and Tux took us through a demonstration of each station, which was great as we got to see a practical demonstration of what we and our dogs were supposed to do at each activity.
Kate and I started out on the Zig Zag run which consisted of running around cones ensuring Kate stayed to the left of me at all times. It really struck me how much Dan and Karen care about you and your dog getting the best workout you can, both moving around the group helping us all with our technique and pushing us to increase our intensity.
One of the activities in the first half of the circuit for Kate and I included lunge walking. This is where you hold the lunge and have your dog weave through your legs as you go. Equipment also featured in many of the stations, including hurdles for both Kate and I to jump over, a ladder for us to bunny hop through in my case and run through in Kate’s case!
After the first half of the circuit we moved on to some cardio. This included short sprints, jogging and walking with your dog in a nice controlled manner. One activity included us standing in a wide circle and each doing an exercise such as squats while one person runs with their dog weaving in and out of each group member. The exercise lasts as long as it takes for the person and dog to complete a lap, and aimed at teaching both owner and dog how to come into contact with other dogs and distractions on a run, and stay in a calm controlled manner.
After the heart was racing, we moved back onto the circuit to continue our strength training. The second half had some great stations for Kate! One of my favourites was the tyre drag in which you clip a rope attached to a small rubber tyre to your dog’s collar then run to a certain point and back again. The weight adds extra resistance which makes your dog work harder and it’s great to see them get the hang of dragging it along! There were two sizes; one for big dogs and one for small, although we saw one SUPER Jack Russell dragging the big tyre along like a pro!
Once we had finished the circuit we had a relay which was a lot of fun! It was big dogs vs small dogs and the course consisted of a sprint to a mat where your dog had to sit before moving on. Then another sprint to a hoop at the end which you both had to go through to be able to run back and tag your next team member. It was close but the smalls had the advantage with the hoop challenge so us ‘biggies’ only just lost!
After the relay we had a dog specific exercise which I liked to term ‘Tricks for Treats’! We had a range of three tricks which your dog had to perform at least once before moving onto the next. These included both paws up, sitting while you walked around them in a circle and how many times they would weave in a figure eight between your legs. It was great seeing how quickly Kate responded to all these exercises, she picked it up so quickly and I can tell you I was quite proud of my first time Barxercising kelpie!
We finished up with some ab work which gave the dogs a chance to rest and be in close proximity to each other, and remain calm and stationary, which is a hard task when their owner is groaning on the ground next to them!
The end of each session is the opportunity to let the dogs off leash and have a proper run. Kate was off like a rocket and careening around the oval having a ball while we ate the orange slices kindly provided by Karen and Dan. It was a great workout and having the opportunity for socialising (both dogs and people) at the end made it all the better!
I was so impressed with Karen and Dan’s evident commitment to encouraging people to lead an active and inclusive lifestyle with their dogs. It was a brilliant session and Kate and I will definitely be regulars!
Check out the Barx Active website for more information on Barxercise and Barx Active hikes and events!