K9 Fit Club - Health and Wellness for both Dogs and People: An Interview With Tricia Montgomery
Tricia Montgomery was the Public Education Director for the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association from 1993 to 1998, the Executive Director in July of 1998, and served a dual role of both Public Ed Director and Executive Director until 2006. Montgomery was on the Public Education Committee and worked on many programs, including Hurricane Katrina, Mardi Growl, and The Bark Heard Around the World. She also handled the Public Relations for the International Kennel Club Show from 1998 – 2009. Montgomery was an honorary board member of the AKC and has worked with the Canine Health Foundation, HSUS, PAWS Chicago, Best Friends, AAHA and the AVMA. She is now President of the K9 Fit Club where she combines fitness with the friendship of man’s best friend. K9 Fit Club offers a wide variety of workout options, making fitness fun.
Tricia Montgomery and her dog used to be overweight. After taking advice from her veterinarian, she came to the realization that her bad habits were not only affecting her, but also her dog. One hundred thirty-five pounds lighter and full of energy, Ms. Montgomery created the K9 Fit Club, which combines fitness with the friendship of man’s best friend. She says, “By blending the motivational support of a dog with fitness goals for both person and pooch, a change in mental attitude occurs and improved wellness and health benefits are the result. K9 Fit Club members enjoy great workouts, games and challenges with nutrition and fitness, which leads to weight loss, improved health and having fun with your dog.”
K9 Fit Club offers group and individual instruction, both indoors and outdoors, using proprietary programs including; Oh My Dog Bootcamp™, “Bow Wow Bootcamp™, Puilates™, Tai Chi Wa Wa™ and Fungility™. K9 Fit Club’s headquarters and training facility are located in Hinsdale, IL where there are Veterinarians, Doctors, Certified Animal Behaviorists, People and Pup Personal Trainers on staff, passionate about developing human/animal bonding programs. Their efforts have been coordinated with Dr. Ernie Ward, Founder of the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention. K9 Fit Club has also collaborated with schools to develop an after school fitness program. The dogs are able to help the children open up and potentially give an opening for therapy. The Club even offers a Leash & Loan program, which allows people without a dog the chance to participate, exercise with dogs, and possibly adopt one.
K9 Fit Club’s programs are customized to individual fitness and goals of both dog and owner. Each dog and person undergoes an assessment and evaluation that includes cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, obedience & nutritional assessment, behavior and activity analysis and more. By undergoing an assessment, the staff will be able to design a class to better fit the needs of the person and the animal. The Club has specialty programs which serve clients who have Down’s Syndrome, hearing impairments, spina bifida, as well as Breast Cancer Survivors. K9 Fit Club even designed a class specifically for a young man with spina bifida. That class, Sit and Be Fit, focuses on working on upper body strength while sitting in a wheel chair.
Countless people have achieved their health goals and improved their lives with the help of K9 Fit Club. Ms. Montgomery shared several of her favorite success stories:
Erin Harvey, 32, Down’s Syndrome & Goldie– Erin could not (would not) walk up the stairs. Her fear had even been transferred to her Labradoodle, Goldie. The staff helped Goldie to learn to walk up the stairs and Erin to be unafraid and confident in who she is. K9 Fit Club has given Erin a new- found sense of freedom. Her disability was a challenge for a workout facility. In her mother’s words, “K9 Fit Club has transformed our family.”
Rebekkah Rakow & Mazie– Becky came to K9 Fit Club weighing 417 lbs., she could not walk her dog, Mazie, to the mailbox without stopping to catch her breath. Becky now weighs 320lbs and her dog passed away of kidney failure two weeks ago. K9 Fit Club has become Becky’s extended family. She has not stopped attending classes and is using one of the dogs from the Loan & Leash program. Becky also wanted to give back to the program, as she does not pay for classes due to income level. She helped create and develop our program for the deaf, as her best friend is hearing impaired.
Cindy Rodkin & Khaki – Cindy & Khaki, her Golden Retriever, came to K9 Fit Club last August. Cindy had gone through a very tough divorce and had gained over 100 pounds. Khaki’s behavior had gone from bad to worse. Since October, Cindy has lost 85 pounds, gained much needed confidence, and the “mis” behaviors in Khaki are gone.
As a result of her own experience, Tricia Montgomery has clearly found her passion in helping owners and their pets achieve their health and fitness goals. She has designed a wide variety of programs that address the needs of individuals and their pets in many different situations. She is able to tailor her exercise routines so that people at any level of fitness are able to participate and thrive. This partnership between pets and people is beneficial to both participants and as Tricia Montgomery says, “There are 68 million dogs in America. They will never cancel on you. They are the best partners.”