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Get Fit for Agility

Read about this upcoming fitness-related series.  By Brenna Fender

When many of us started agility, it was because we thought it was something fun for the family pet.  Once hooked on competition, we realized that we had gotten ourselves involved in a sport.  But not a "regular" sport, like tennis or baseball.  A "dog sport." So we realized - some of us quicker than others - that we needed to get our dogs in shape so that they could be both competitive and safe.  Many of us launched into canine exercise plans that included general conditioning and even special exercises designed to target our dog's weaker areas.

Perhaps at the same time, or soon after, we realized that even though we call agility a dog sport, the human plays an awfully big role in it.  We recognized that the handler faces many mental challenges thoughout agility, from devising training plans to adopting a handling strategy to planning and executing handling moves in the heat of heavy competition.  We began to train ourselves by reading books and magazines, viewing DVDs, and attending seminars.  We worked our brains with various mental management techniques so that we could perform to the best of our ability.

At some point, the most competitive agility handlers realized that they've left a piece out of the puzzle.  As they ran around the course, barely being able to spout commands as they huffed and puffed, they finally decided that humans can be agility athletes too.

I know of people who have lost a 26-inch-jumping-dog's-worth of weight, not in an attempt to attract a mate or because they wanted to be more healthy, they simply wanted to kick butt in agility.  The sport has served as an important motivator to many who have decided to lose weight, gain muscle, eat healthy, and even stop smoking.

USDAA recognizes the human agility athlete.  We realize that agility is more of a human sport than a dog one.  We also think that it's great for people to increase their fitness, regardless of the reason.  So from now on, you'll find fitness-related articles here on the USDAA Web site. Not every day, of course, but occasionally nestled between the course analyses, training articles, and so on.  We plan to provide innovative, agility-based resources for competitors who want to improve their fitness.  We hope that you will find it helpful in your path to a healthier body and a better score on the course!

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 with comments, questions, or submissions.

"Please let me know if you'd like to contribute to the fitness series!"


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