Pets and Pilates

No, I’m not suggesting you pick up doggy-sized sweatbands and take Spot to the gym.

My mother recently started taking Pilates classes with my aunt. They shared an interesting tidbit about Pilates that got me thinking: Pilates is based in part on how animals move.

Now, I’ve never subjected myself to a Pilates class. But since Mom planted that seed in my head, I’ve been watching my dogs and how they move. Especially the stretches. As soon as Lally and Moose get up from a snooze, they stretch. Backwards first, front paws reaching forward, toes splayed. Then a forwards stretch, head pointing up, front paws stretching backward. The whole back gets moved in a nice smooth stretch. It’s very balanced – everything gets moved forward and back, up and down. And don’t get me started on cats… I think they’ve perfected the art of luxurious stretching.

And now that I think about it, the morning mutt stretch reminds me a little of the yoga Sun Salutation – something a friend taught me years ago. (Yoga even has dog and cat stretches!) One thing I really like about the Sun Salutation – or the “Good Morning Sunshine!” as another friend called it! – is that it pretty much manages to stretch all your major muscle groups in one fluid motion. It almost makes me feel graceful… but it definitely makes me feel good.

And when you think about it, most pets don’t feel the need to hit the gym. They stretch when they need to – often after a snooze, when muscles tend to need a little limbering. Their “exercise” is play, not work. Not so much for a lot of humans… making time to exercise is hard some days! But I think I have my first New Year’s Resolution: to start each day with a stretch. If it’s good enough for Moose and Lally (and all the other dogs out there) it’s good enough for me! My second resolution might be trying to find an exercise program that’s less “work” and more “play”. I wonder if I can teach Lally to throw the ball for me to fetch…