Obesity is considered a public health crisis in the United States, but fewer people worry about the fact that America’s pets are getting bigger, too.  K9 Fit Club president and founder Tricia Montgomery is on a mission to slim down America’s overweight pets…and their owners. Only A Game’s Karen Given paid a visit to a K9 Fit Club in Hinsdale, Ill. and spoke with Montgomery.

TM: K9 Fit Club is a place where pooches and peeps get together and have a healthy and happy lifestyle. We do exercises, we do workouts, we bond, we socialize and most of all we have fun.

K9 Fit Club was originally developed in 2008 but we didn’t open the doors here until Aug 5, 2012. We started in Hinsdale, Illinois in our first location and now we have corporate facilities, we also have locations starting all the way from Monterrey City, Mexico, all the way to New York, into Raleigh- Durham, North Carolina, up into Florida, St. Louis, all across the country. Working out’s not so “ruff” when do you include your best friend.

KG: How long did it take you to come up with that?

TM: You know I am the master of dogisms, I’m am totally the master of dogisms, that’s what it’s all about here. So we don’t call them Mondays, we call them Mutt Days.

Our programs were developed by veterinarians, by personal trainers, by dog trainers, and by doctors and psychologists, actually. So we’re not just a bunch of people running around with a bunch of dogs jumping up beside us. Our programs have really been developed for people who have never worked out a day in their lives to people who are very, very fit.

A typical Bow Wow Bootcamp what you’ll find is, it’s a 55 minute class and you’ll do a little bit of a warm-up or a drill, and that’s knee raises, you might do lunges, you may do Rover Reverse lunges, you may do Sit and Stay side shuffles, but we get your cardio up and running at that time. Then we go into a little bit of strength training with the dogs and we actually do circuits.

“But when you walk into K9 Fit Club, as you see, you’re not seeing any equipment here. You’re seeing a bunch of cones and you’re seeing people. Because when you’re concentrating on that dog and you’re kind of keeping him beside you, he’s not only learning obedience moves, but you’re using him as a resistance. It is a phenomenal workout, so when people get through the class they’re like, “whoa,” you know, but they don’t even realize they’ve worked out because they’re paying attention to their dog and they’re having so much fun. They’re getting kisses and laughs and lots of slobber in between. Not only are you sweating, you’re getting some slobber.

The dogs are getting buff, you’d be amazed at some of the dogs that we’re seeing around here, that’s a big “woof.”  So, no, the pooches and people are shaping up because as we as a nation get more and more obese, our pets are getting fatter right along beside us. Out of the 68.2 million dogs in America, about 63 percent of those dogs are overweight. I think as we’ve become super-sized as a nation, we’ve super-sized our pets as well.

This came from my own personal journey. I used to weigh about 265 pounds and I weigh about 130 right now and I lost it with my dog. You know, I was fine being overweight, but when I realized I was killing my dog, something snapped.

We have to be the ones to get them up, get them out, and get them moving. Otherwise they’re gonna be couch potatoes just like out. Let’s get out and get moving, let’s socialize, let’s get together and do something together. And use that dog because they’re you’re best friend. They’re gonna be the best workout partner that you’ll ever, ever, ever have.

I love what I do, how cool is this? I get to come to work every day with my dog and I get to have the coolest job working with dogs and people and helping change their lives and feel better about themselves. Who wouldn’t be excited about that? I mean truly.”