Fredericton — An innovative Fredericton fitness program that pairs morbidly obese participants with owners of aggressive pets has been drawing some national attention. During a typical session, a client is encouraged to break into a sprint, and a pit bull or other aggressive breed is released closely behind them to ensure the intensity and duration of exercise.
Program director Herbert Worrell was quick to explain that the program does offer varying levels of difficultly and participation. “It’s stratified. Our ‘Ankle Biters’ program is really where it all begins with a few Yorkshire terriers; they’re more of an annoyance than anything. From there, clients will graduate to our ‘Lil Nibblers’ — a step up. Clients’ buttocks are daubed with peanut butter and they are given a 5-second head start on a Border Collie.”
But it’s the final level of the Fit Bit program that has drawn the most attention, and the most criticism. “This is where fitness levels and motivation really peak,” said Worrell. “We bring out the big dogs here: a few Dobermans, a handful of Shepherds, but most of our clients have seen the best results with the pit bull breed.”
Worrell said that although it seems harsh, for many clients this is their last chance at weight loss. “We take obese clients with nowhere to turn and simply place a Doberman behind them; they’re running for their lives in more than one way. That’s why our slogan is in fact, ‘Fit Bit — Run for your Life.'”
How have the dogs’ owners responded? “This has been a really positive opportunity for Fluffy-Fluffy-Bo-Bo,” said downtown Fredericton resident Mike Schaufel, owner of an aggressive Rottweiler. “It’s a chance to give back to the community and use some of the skills that breeders have been honing for centuries. At the end of these sessions, Bo seems much more settled than usual. The neighbours have a few chinchillas and he hasn’t eaten one for a couple of weeks now.”
Aside from the obvious safety concerns, the program has not been without other challenges. One client had, in fact, evaded the Border Collie and was found in a dumpster licking the peanut butter from the seat of their Spandex.
Regardless of the controversy and inevitable personal injury, Worrell remains passionate about his program and its prospects. “We know we’re pushing the fitness envelope here, and that won’t make everybody happy. But, our business is to get you fit — with our program, you WILL drop the weight, whether it’s through the actual running, the active canine combat, or maybe the usual reconstructive surgery. Hospital food is horrible, so you’ll lose weight one way or the other.