Fit Dogs: Pilates for Pooches
A Core Strengthening and Conditioning Program

As you can imagine, this is a workout DVD for your dog. When I see products like this, I have two thoughts. One, I've finally gone dyslexic. And two, what an elaborate way to tell consumers to go fuck themselves. Like with my porno video for earthworms, which was called exactly that. First things first, let's see what we're dealing with from the box.

What We Learn From The Box:
"Sarah Johnson, M.A., Exercise Physiologist, was one of the first to bring human pilates to Northern California in 1990."
Human pilates? Here's something to take away from that: if you're talking with someone and they feel the need to distinguish between human pilates and something else, try not to let it show that you just figured out they're an alien. To them, panic only makes your flesh more delicious, and soon they must feed. Space monster or not, though; these are very humbly qualified credentials. She doesn't even give herself exclusive credit for bringing human pilates to the not-even-whole state. When I met the guy who started the first goat square dancing school in Yamhill County, you would have thought he'd brought the sport to all of western central Oregon from the way he went on!

The box also tells us that this DVD isn't really focused so much on pilates, be it human or other. It's more of an entire fitness program for our dog. I think the word "Pilates" was only chosen for the title because there aren't a lot of good alliterations you can make with workout words and dog words. Ideas I imagine they threw out were "Hound Hot Bodies!" and "Rippled Retrievers." I bet they thought about "Labrador Legs and Thighs" too before they decided it sounded more like a cooking show.

The DVD Itself:
I was expecting the entire video to just be security camera footage of me buying it with a studio audience laughing at me. Chapter One: You're an idiot! Special Features: Look at yourself! Instead, it's a well-organized title menu next to three glamor shots of the most ripped dogs I've ever seen.

After a couple warnings, of course. You see, before attempting this or any other workout routine, please consult a doctor or physician. Every fitness video tells you this, even if you're a dog. Not because you really have to call a doctor before you workout. If your doctor recommends not fitness over fitness, someone has a gun to his head and he's trying to talk to you in code. These disclaimers aren't there as real advice; they're there because the buttery insides of fat people are delicate ecosystems and videos have to cover their asses legally. It's litigious suicide to make a video without one. A single fat guy bouncing on a mini trampoline can set off car alarms, wreck the navigational systems of passing aircraft, or raise a building's gravy content to toxic levels.

Before I hit play, I thought about how this video must have been marketed. In a normal, or human, commercial for an ab machine, there's almost always a short history of man's struggle against the situp. Some poor failed actor who answered a casting call for "FAT ASSHOLE WHO CAN'T QUITE DO A SITUP" gets filmed in black and white while gravity taunts him and giant red X's flash over him. That's your daddy's situp, shithead.

Bad situp man is there to show us how the old way of doing situps is not only dangerous and inefficient, it's impossible. They're hoping you don't double check with your brain to see if that's ridiculous. But let's try it: are situps hard? Here are the facts: if you can't do a situp, you've been raped by donuts. The only thing an Ab Roller 2000 is going to do in a situation like that is give you a place to cool pies. If I hurt myself doing a situp, I'd expect my doctor's advice would be, "My receptionist should have told you this isn't a gynecologist's office, pussy."

Give it to me straight, doc. Am I physically capable of watching my dog workout?
So how did they market this? Was there a commercial late at night of a fat dog who threw his back out with those old, high-impact dog workout routines? "Ugh. Another day of chasing my tail and all I have to show for it are these aching joints and dissolvable sutures where my genitals used to be. There's got to be a better way! Wow, it's celebrity dog favorites McGruff the Crime Dog and Hong Kong Phooey! You're not here to show me an exciting new canine fitness routine for my generation, are you!?"

Those types of commercials work on me, and I have the electrical burns on my electrically stimulated abs to prove it. But if you try putting one of those on a dog, it will go to the grave to prevent it. For a period of six weeks, I made bologna juice for my lunches as a part of my healthier Jack LaLanne lifestyle, and my dog not only wouldn't try it, he wouldn't come inside if I'd used the bathroom. I even ordered pills to make that certain part of my male anatomy bigger, and my something part is so big I don't even remember what it started as! Try smashing one up and sneaking it in your dog's food, though. He knows what you've done! So if you're asking me if I would try the Pilates for Pooches program, oh my god yes. But I don't think a dog would be that stupid.

Let's face it. If you're watching this DVD, you're not going to understand any of the doctor things I'll say. So instead, I'll list my favorite name for a duck, favorite color, and favorite name for a duck: Battlecat, meat, Professor Duck.
Let's Watch this Crap:
We start with "Dr. Sams Introduction." He's sitting in front of a couple of dog X-rays and reading cue cards about dogs performing at the peak of their athletic ability. I feel comfortable that if Dr. Sam endorses the product, it's legitimate. However, most people can skip this segment. It's just for the people who bought the DVD, put it in their DVD player, and only then thought that these dog fitness people might be kooks. Oh, wait, there's a doctor. Everything's okay.

Next we meet our hostess Sarah Johnson. Obviously, her parents loved her so much they wanted her name to appear 3000 times in every phone book. In her purple tracksuit, Sarah and her house plant list the many, many fitness types we'll be working on with our dogs. I've seen sorcerers cast sleeping spells that are more gripping. She should have saved herself the trouble in Power Point and just asked me to put my mouth around an exhaust pipe and close the garage door. She did say one thing that caught my ear, however: "In humans, the cardiovascular muscular strength guidelines are set by the American College of Sports Medicine. As of today, there is no national organization that sets the guidelines for dogs." Are you fucking kidding me!?

What criminal negligence on the part of our dog fitness oversight committees! I made it this sentence's duty to start the National Association to Check if Your Dog is Breathing. With the guidelines set forth by this organization, we can now measure over zero states of dogiovascular health: "Normal" and "Error: That's not a dog." Dogiovascular health is a trademark of the National Association to Check if Your Dog is Breathing.

I must use "Common Sense" when purchasing DVDs.
The Important Stuff:
Sarah, co-bringer of human pilates to some of California, really drives home the importance of common sense in dog training. She says that "With dogs, we do too much, too fast, too soon." That sounds like post 9-11 paranoia to me, but since this "we" she's talking about seems to only exist in her head, I guess she can say "we" do whatever the hell she wants. We will now take a break from our breakneck dog training pace to follow along with her and look at her two main points.

1. More and faster is NOT always better.
This is what Sarah was getting at when she mentioned how fast we were going. Slow down and do less! Sometimes?

2. We must use "Common Sense" when training our dogs.
I figured she'd have more to say about that more not being better crap, like anything, but instead she moves on to this: the need for common sense. This seems reasonable, but it kind of goes off theme. This is basically a stretching video for dogs. Common sense not only tells us that's useless, but also that everyone involved held hands and let a truck run over their heads. To be frank, I don't think Sarah's going to come out on top in situations where lucidity is involved.

Specificity of Training
One of the fun things about shitty instructional videos is the generous use of title cards. In a futile suicide attack against boredom, title cards are inserted every 5 to 10 seconds. To Sarah's credit, I'm sure these made her presentation really pop at the Days Inn Business suite during the Dog Hair Extensions and Wigs Trade Show, but I think most Power Point presentations need to be adapted a little before being made into screenplays.

Somewhere around this point I realized this wasn't a workout video for ordinary dog owners, which already would have been plenty of strange. This is more specialized. It's apparently for people who breed sportsdogs for obscure dog athletic events. Here is her explanation for Specificity of Training.

This is a two-on, two-off A-Frame. Feel the burn, puppy!
"For example, in Agility, if your dog does a two-on, two-off of an A-frame... in your conditioning and muscle strengthening program, you want to mimic that exact position the dog has on the A-frame."

Her explanation ends there. That's it! There are three, maybe four people alive who know what she's talking about. But at least now those people know that if they're training their dog to stand strangely on something called an A-frame, they shouldn't instead make them do something wildly different. So either this lady's head is up her own ass or "Specificity of Training" is what dog owners say instead of "duh."

Cross Training:
In this section, Sarah encourages us to put less strain on our dog's sport joints. Like if your dog does sheep herding, good cardiovascular cross training would be swimming. That's her example, not mine. If I had to come up with one I'd tell you to glue an extra set of balls to its back so it stretches in a different direction.

Goals of an Exercise:
When a normal person takes their dog out, that's what they do. Not Sarah. First has to decide on a goal. She starts listing sentence fragments. "Muscle endurance? Muscle strength? Specific, non-specific!? Do I wanna work the front end?! Do I wanna work the back end!?" It's all very fascinating. I'm hoping one of the special features on the DVD is watching her try to decide between two salad dressings until she gets a nosebleed and collapses.

She eventually stops listing dog fitness goals, but then she has to figure out the benefits. And so begins another string of sentence fragments. It's like a caveman reading the chapter titles of a health book. When this stops, she asks if it's possible to accomplish two things at the same time. I guess when you spend an hour with your dog and 45 minutes of it is pie charts, you're forced to multi-task. If you're wondering about our chances of accomplishing two things at once, note that we're on slide 17 of her presentation and the damn dog isn't on its leash yet.

To witness Sarah in action, please enjoy this video footage of her debunking the myth that playing with tennis balls isn't dog murder.
Let the Insanity Begin:
I think one of Sarah's dogs died in a freak breathing accident. She's obsessed with the dangers of non-dangerous activities. Did you know there's ten million ways to kill a dog by throwing a tennis ball? The key is to judge how much benefit your dog is going to get from chasing a tennis ball. Then subtract from this the number of ways it will die. If the number is higher than the coefficient of its current health matrix, you can safely play with your dog.

As usual, I'm sure her example will help. Sarah's text is in bold, and her mouth speaks nothing but terror.
"For example, let's use throwing a tennis ball. I could ask some people who are throwing balls for their dog... why are you throwing a ball for your dog?"

Yeah, you ask them that, lady. "I am one of you, humans. Why do you throw the Earth ball for the food animal?" It's the second time in my experience with this DVD where I'm sure she's an alien in a bad movie trying to build comical tension by saying things that give her secret away.

She continues, "The answers they give me will be... it's good exercise... my dog's a retriever... it's fun... they enjoy it... uhh... I'm trying to help my dog lose weight... it's exciting... it will blow steam off... I'm trying to tired out my dog... these are just a few of the many answers people will give you."

I like that she's playing her own game of Family Feud with her own imaginary survey. Reasons you might throw a ball with your dog... if it's there, I'm still alive. Show me... "It will blow steam off!" Awwww... Looks like the final answers were... "Because your mom turned her ankle at the blowjob store" and "They must not let you people own dogs under the power lines."

After pointlessly speculating about what all those stupid dog owners might say, she finally starts itemizing the ways tennis balls can damage or kill your dog. There are a lot. Plus, you have to consider what good tennis ball chasing is for a sheep herder. Or advanced A-Frame standing. So after much more deliberation, several more lists, and one seizure brought on by Generalized Anxiety Disorder, she concludes NO. NO, the benefits of playing tennis ball do NOT outweigh the risks. What a shocking twist.

Personally, I believe her. She knows more about dogs than me her crippling fear seems to be such a handicap that it would be, I don't know, racist to make fun of it. But I'm not going to sit here and fuss at the problem like some kind of woman! I'm going to come up with a system where we can play ball with our dogs again!

Step one: Construct a suit for your dog out of pillows and cushions at least four cushions deep, making certain none of these cushions contain scorpions or explosives. Don't take your eyes off the foreigner.

Step two: Hang a sign on your dog that indicates he is filled with highly radioactive fluids. This will keep people from stealing your dog or puncturing it. Check your GPS to ensure you are not under a commercial flight path, as frozen airline waste kills every dog ever.

Step three: After washing one or no tennis balls, place it or nothing gently in your dog's mouth. Only, of course, after securing the animal in a Fit Dogs Safety Harness Suspension System. Is that an octopus? Prod it with your octopus rod until a no can be certain.

Step four: Rescan the horizon for enemies, rubbing cream on any limbs your dog may have used in its panicked escape attempts.

Step five: Quickly remove the tennis ball from your dog's mouth to avoid muscle strain. Brush each tooth one hundred strokes, one hundred strokes with a soft bristle brush. Dinosaurs haven't existed for many years. They will kill your dog. The bat people can hear your screams even when you're silent.

F-f-f-f-fuck YOU, l-l-lady!
So What the Fuck is Safe?:
Stepping on air cushions and small carpeted boxes provides all the cardiovascular benefits of a nap with fewer risks than you might think! It's simple to do. Place objects on the floor and make the dog walk on them. It won't, since dogs can sense the pointless, so withhold food from it until it steps onto them. There, it's working out! And you'd think just stepping on a couple boxes would be safe, right? Wrong. Dead wrong.

In the DVD extras, she shows us how to set these sad obstacle courses up for puppies. Instead of carpeted boxes, which would kill a puppy as soon as look at it, she is forced to use laundry baskets. Remember a second ago how wrong you were about tiny boxes being safe? You're even more wrong about laundry baskets.

An empty laundry basket is like a landmine to a puppy. You must fill a laundry basket with phone books and then use packaging tape to secure the package together. Then put no slip on top of that. And I don't have to tell you what would happen if a puppy slipped on the edge of an unsecured basket and tipped it. Mostly because I drew this picture of it:

With a quick smack of her human paw, Sarah demonstrates the dangers of a badly tipped box. Now imagine if that was a puppy, if you have the stomach for it.
I should let you know that despite my criticism, I am not a certified expert on dog fitness. Where I grew up, a workout routine with my dog was chasing it down with pliers and digging quills out of its face after it forgot what porcupines did again. Here's a story about one of those dogs. For several years, we had a dog that was half Malamute and half fucking Timber Wolf. Every few days her wild callings would beat out her training and she would kill one of the neighbor's chickens. My insane step dad would punish her by making her wear a dead chicken necklace, and then we paid our neighbor more than the full retail value of a chicken. So to him, our beast of a dog was actually a really lucrative corpse jewelry business.

One year when she was in heat, our dog not our neighbor, we locked her howling ass in the shed. I think wolf ovaries secrete gamma rays when you put a wall between them and cock, because she tore through the shed's concrete foundation to get laid. From the wreckage, it must have been a flurry of fur and blood. We think she mated with one of the inbred neighbor's dogs, and it was almost certainly sloppy seconds. Because when you make love to your first cousin on a regular basis, why wouldn't you fuck your dog? Anyway, after being intimate with it, our dog gave birth to something that looked like an extra from the Star Wars bar. Something George Lucas would have named Lars Shitface. That's not what we named it.

Its baby was a lopsided carpet that was only good for confusing scientists. But it was Mother Nature's will that it be spawned, and no shed was going to stand in the way. Mother Nature changed her mind quickly, though; when the dog monster was old enough to walk. Its mother ran it into the woods where I imagine it writes sad poetry about being so ugly that even wolves wouldn't raise him.

Its mother eventually had to be put down when a sudden exploration of her wolf instincts left our neighbor's cow half-dead. Do you realize that without any formal exercise program, my dog had the speed to run down a chicken and the cunning to murder a cow? If I had this video as a kid, the government would have had to scramble F-18s to end my fit dog's rampage. Or, even more likely, I would have said, "What's this video? I didn't know our dogs were gay."

Here are some of the fun exercises you and your dog can do with this system. Note carefully how this is the work of a madman.
Absoludicrous Rating: 3/5
If you normally keep your dog in a jar or frozen in a block of ice, then stepping onto and off of a phone book would certainly be great exercise for it. For normal dog owners, who allow their animals a free range of movement, this video would barely qualify as a waste of time. One of the great things about dogs is that they come pre-packaged with the walk feature. This feature works even on very small obstacles!

Teaching your dog new ways to walk to avoid stress injuries is like teaching a monkey Tae Bo. All you did was increase that monkey's chance of getting his ass kicked. This DVD is the kind of shit that happens when people interact too much with their pets. They start to think that animals have human problems. But dogs don't get depressed because they're pushing 7 and haven't done anything with their lives. They don't get repetitive strain injuries from ignoring the instructions on the weight machine. I've never seen a nature show go, "This dog cannot join the pack on the hunt because his shoulder is bugging him from last night's softball game. The pack leader is helpless to discipline him because he slept on his neck funny and his fucking acupuncturist won't see patients on Sundays." They're dogs. And one of the things that goes along with that is not having to stretch before aerobics. It's built into their god damn dog structure. Dogs can go for a sprint straight out of a nap, then stop in the middle to shove over a trash can for a lunch of rotten garbage. And if they puke, that just means dessert.

Dogs aren't like Navy Seals where they need suction cups and resistance bars to do the perfect pushup. This DVD reminds me of those videos that play classical music to babies to make them smarter. It's stupid person logic: of course those babies are smarter! Look, Mozart! And of course these dogs are more fit because you made them wobble on a ball for ten minutes. Well, do you know what babies get out of Mozart? Jack shit. You might as well throw a wine list and a calculator in the crib. These videos aren't for the baby or the dog. They're for the self satisfaction of their owners. So pat yourself on the back, Fit Dogs: Pilates for Pooches. You've taught your dog a safe way to walk over a laundry hamper. Now comes the hard part: convincing yourself that didn't already exist.

You can order this DVD directly from the Agility in Motion website for only $39.95. I think it's so expensive because DVD manufacturers can charge more when an order was clearly placed by dumbasses. And speaking of dumbasses, here's a way to get your dog a workout and save on the shipping cost! Take the two twenty dollar bills you were going to spend on this video. Now, wrap them around a stick and throw it, dumbass.

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