Posted Date: July 21, 2008
If you're working on your fitness, read about a DVD that might help. Review by Brenna Fender, DVD by Lori Hansen.
Agility is a team sport, requiring dog and handler to work together to negotiate a course. Most competitors focus on training and conditioning the dog, treating him like the athlete he is, but few handlers treat themselves like athletes.
Handler fitness and control are crucial to maximizing agility success. In Human Agility Training Volume 1, certified personal trainer Lori Hansen uses her 25 years of experience as a fitness professional to tailor exercises for the human half of the team. She competes in agility at the national level, so that makes her the ideal person to put together a human-oriented agility fitness training DVD.
Hansen has been teaching human agility training (HAT) classes in Denver, Colorado, for the last two years. She and her husband Don, who worked behind the scenes on the video, compete in agility with their Border Collies, Rusty and Bailey.
The idea for HAT classes, and eventually this DVD, came from one "inspiring" comment directed toward Hansen during a seminar with a nationally known agility competitor: "You run like a girl!" Being a personal trainer did not give Hansen the proper skills to run efficiently. She set out to change that and HAT was born.
The video comes with a written list of exercises for a dynamic warm-up and stretch, and a separate proper running mechanics workout. It starts with a clear and informative introduction that explains how to get the most from the exercises, while also offering an alternative for high impact portions of the workout. The video is practical, including information on safety and when and where certain exercises can be done. Hansen points out which warmups work well in line while waiting to run and offers minor alterations so that you can avoid disturbing the people around you.
The narrator includes a bit of humor in her conversational delivery, which makes the video more entertaining to watch. The "models" who demonstrate each exercise resemble (and probably are) real agility competitors, which should help avoid intimidating viewers who don't usually exercise at home.
The video begins with an explanation of how to stabilize core body muscles and then demonstrates proper arm position for running. It shows simple ways to attain the proper form, although some require having an additional person to provide assistance.
After the introduction, the video is divided into two chapters: "Proper Running Mechanics" and "Dynamic Warm-Up." Each chapter has a menu to allow viewers to go directly to a chosen exercise so that they can view it, practice the moves, and then go on to the next one. The video shows very clear examples of each exercise from various angles and sometimes uses slow motion. At the same time the exercises are clearly explained by the narrator, who also discusses the reasons for the actions being performed. Common mistakes are demonstrated with an explanation of what is wrong and why.
In the "Proper Running Mechanics" section, the video demonstrates correct running form and shows exercises that increase fitness and technique to help the competitor run properly. Some of the topics covered in this chapter include: Stationary Arm Swings; Perfect Form March; Bounding; and Putting It All Together.
Dynamic means "with movement." In the "Dynamic Warm-Up" chapter, the video explains why is it important to warm up using movement and why the static exercises that most handlers do before running may actually be harming their performances. A few of the exercises included in this chapter are: The Bear; High Knees; Butt Kickers; Moving Hamstring Stretch; Grapevine; and many more. Some of the exercises require things you might not have easy access to, like hills, lots of space, or a helper, but most can be modified to do alone anywhere. Videotaping yourself as you are learning would be a good way to make sure that you are maintaining the proper form.
This DVD is very easy to use because each exercise is separate on the menu within the chapters, and the exercises are described and shown very clearly as well. Some modifications are demonstrated for handlers of varying abilities, but almost any handler can benefit from the exercises shown on this DVD.
Human Agility Training Volume 1 can be purchased at www.cleanrun.com.
Brenna Fender is the editor for the USDAA's subscriber services portion of the website. She is also a freelance writer, wife, and parent of two dogs and two children. Please contact Brenna at BrennaFender@gmail.com with comments, questions, or submissions.
This article was first printed in Clean Run Magazine's March 2007 issue.