It’s Wednesday morning in early December and I’m lying on my back in a Pilates studio, desperately trying to contort my body into a bridge shape. There’s a rubber ball clenched between my thighs and a Miniature Schnauzer, called Grace, placed on my stomach.
If this additional weight was anything but an adorable puppy, I would complain and ask for it to be removed immediately. Instead, I stay in the position for an extra 60 seconds, staring into Grace’s eyes and wondering how she maintains such a clean beard.
I rarely jump at the chance to exercise (especially before 10am), but if one thing is going to get me into lycra, it’s the promise of puppy Pilates. Coined ‘Pupilates’, the class at Frame, Fitzrovia, is pretty much what it says on the tin – instead of using weights to tone your body, you use your furry friends.
The moves are designed to integrate your pooch without doing them any harm. So, not only do you reap the physical benefits of the workout, you also get to spend more time with your dog (or someone else’s) – and we all know spending time with animals is good for our mental health.
If you don’t have a dog but want to join in, you still get to enjoy Pilates in a pup-filled environment. As a dog lover but not a dog owner (due to London-flat-rental-related reasons), I have high expectations. But just how much exercise is anyone going to get done while surrounded by pups?
Trying to keep a dog on a Pilates mat is, as no surprise to any dog owners, tricky. They want to sniff everything and everyone apart from the human they’ve been assigned to – especially when no one is wearing socks.
So instead of working out with the doggo for the whole 30-minute class, you just have their attention when they fancy coming to sit with (or on) you. This is probably for the best, seeing as every time a puppy does come within 10 yards of my mat (there are five in the studio), I find myself unable to listen to what the teacher is saying.
I spend 80% of the class exercising and only 20% cuddling dogs, but it’s a ratio my core muscles are probably grateful for after a month spent eating endless Quality Street.
Pupilates isn’t a 100% dog fest, but being surrounded by excitable animals full of energy while exercising is a complete joy.
Distracting yourself from the muscle twinges with a labradoodle puppy napping by your feet is something anyone can get on board with and, dare I say it, even makes me want the class to go on for longer than the allotted time.
And, quite frankly, anything that gets that result on a cold winter’s morning is worth a try in my book.
Puppy Pilates was at Frame, Fitzrovia and organised through the Esquared app.