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K9 Fit Club invites people to lose pounds with their hounds

March 27, 2013 at 10:05 AM ET

Video: With bathing suit season fast approaching, many are looking for ways to drop the winter weight. Now, thanks to a new class in a Chicago suburb, you can drop the extra pounds alongside your dog. NBC’s Kevin Tibbles reports.

A suburban Chicago gym believes that the path to getting in shape is to have a workout partner with four legs instead of two.

K9 Fit Club aims to create healthy lives for dog owners and dogs alike by inviting members to bring along their hounds as they work to drop pounds. The club's employees are specially trained to get not only humans into shape, but their canine companions as well.

“There's no better workout partner than your dog, because they'll never cancel on you,’’ K9 Fit Club founder Tricia Montgomery said on TODAY Wednesday. “They'll never say, 'Can't make it to the gym today, sorry.'’’

Twenty years ago, Montgomery was diagnosed with morbid obesity, and so was her basset hound, Louie. Facing health complications because of her weight, she aimed to avoid the same fate for her dog. She began exercising regularly with Louie, and shed 135 pounds. That experience gave her the idea for K9 Fit Club, as it is not only humans but also dogs that are part of the obesity problem in America.

“Dogs have gone from the backyard to the couch,’’ Dr. Ernie Ward of the Association for Pet Obesity told TODAY.

K9 Fit Club workouts are tailored to be performed in conjunction with dogs, whether it’s doing planks over a puppy or squats while holding a leash. (There also is a mop at the ready in case of any doggie accidents.) Kids are also welcome to come work out, even if their “dogs’’ are stuffed animals.

Working out with man’s best friend has made a difference in the lives of members like Cindy Rodkin, who has dropped 57 pounds while breaking a sweat with her dog, Khaki.“My dog is healthier and actually much better behaved than when she started,’’ Rodkin told TODAY.

The doggie workouts also have had a positive effect both in and outside the gym for Erin Harvey, a member who has Down syndrome and has gained a newfound independence thanks to her bond with 17-month-old Goldie.

“We have our moments,’’ Harvey joked to TODAY.

Sometimes just the dog’s presence is enough to help their workout partner break a sweat. TODAY’s Kevin Tibbles was paired up with a pug named Mr. Big for a workout at K9 Fit Club, and as Tibbles did squats and pushups, Mr. Big took in the scenery while hardly moving.

“Mr. Big is not stressing at all,’’ Tibbles said. “I’m pretty sure I burned more calories than he did.’’

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