Because ‘Doga’ Is a Thing: Where to Find Dog-Friendly Fitness in NY

New York Road Runners doesn't discriminate against fur color or tail length

New York is a wag town with 84,054 licensed dogs, according to NYC Health. Unsplash/Leo Rivas

See Spot run. See Spot run out of a Prada bag into Pilates class. See Jane break out in hives on her reformer.

Although some boutique fitness studios allow pets, I am generally against canines in classrooms. My stance developed more than 10 years ago, when I witnessed a teacher’s dog bite a pupil in the face. As an animal lover and mamma to two of my own fur babies (felines), I pledged to protect the identity of the unhappy Cocker Spaniel, who was only being his instinctual self. Cesar Millan might have concurred. The pup didn’t want to be in a hot vinyasa studio filled with strangers and disinfectant smells. As for the poor client, she harbored a morbid fear of hounds and didn’t expect to see one in her yoga class, much less suffer a painful injury. In my opinion, the instructor deserved a time out for being insensitive.

Yet the trend continues in a few facilities. Unless man’s best friend has a handler or fenced area in an office or lobby, he shouldn’t be mingling among the muscle toned. Not only do some humans have serious allergies to pet dander, Fido might be freaked.

That being said, New York is a wag town with 84,054 licensed dogs, according to NYC Health. In honor of our favorite quadrupeds, here are four doggie-dos that encourage paws-ercise for both Pekes and people:

Bone Up On Fitness Literature

If you’re wanting to get you little darling into top form, first take a gander at Running Your First 5K with Your Most Loyal Training Partner by trainer Jt Clough. The manual includes plans and recommendations for food and water. Yes, your pup needs hydration just like you do. While humans should start with eight glasses of water a day, an 80-pound animal might need 10 glasses. Medium-sized dogs need half that amount.

NYRR: Weekly Open Runs

With regular Open Runs in 12 locations, New York Road Runners does not discriminate against fur color or length of tail. Not only are dogs welcome to these timed workouts, they are invited to dress up for theme runs that have inspired Star Wars regalia. Each course is between one to three miles and allows adults, children and pets to race or walk at their own pace. Begun in 2015, Open Runs have recently expanded into Highland Park in Brooklyn and will soon include Soundview Park in the Bronx.

“Dogs are definitely part of the family,” said Zakia Haywood, Director of Community Services at New York Road Runners. “They make the best running partners.” Just like people, bow-wows need to strengthen hearts and lungs, she added. A consistent routine can combat stress, fend off disease and maintain mobile joints.

Central Park Paws

For your daily dose of cuteness, visit Central Park Paws on Facebook to sign up for upcoming events. Founded in 1999, Central Park Paws is part of the Central Park Conservancy that hosts the annual My Dog Loves Central Park Fair in October. Don’t miss guided Hound Hikes that highlight prominent statues, including Indian Hunter and Balto, New York’s top dog. Pugs have never smiled brighter.  

Private Doga Classes

Because New Yorkers love their little barkers, yoga teacher Anna Farkas has regular private “doga” clients, who pay about $150 per session. Common moves include downdog while the four-legged student balances on his parent’s back or hips. In pigeon, the person can lay her head on the dog, sneaking a moment of snuggle time. Another popular pose is a kneeling toe stretch for the human, who simultaneously stretches out the doggie’s front or back limbs while providing a paw massage.

“Especially in a place in a place like New York City, there is such a hustle,” said Farkas, who is writing a book about her experiences. “When we spend time with other humans or animals, we’re multitasking. The dog is in our lap, but we’re typing an email or our dogs are with us, but we’re watching Netflix. So many owners love their dogs like they do human beings, but they’re not always able to devote focused quality-time on their pets. I think it is so lovely to give that time and for me to help facilitate it.”

Ann Votaw is a freelance writer in New York who has a M.A. in Health Education. She teaches yoga and physical fitness to adults 60 and better.