New York City is a dog owner’s city. In every neighborhood you’ll find dog groomers, walkers, sitters – in many cases a person’s dogs are considered children. So it’s apt that on Fit Mama Friday today, I am featuring New Yorker Angi Aramburu. Along with being an amazing fit mama to daughters Penelope, age 4, and Calliope, age 2, awesome wife to Tony Aramburu (and expecting their third baby in June), Angi is the founder and owner of Go Fetch Run, a bootcamp business offering fitness programs for people…and their dogs. I wanted to feature Angi on Fit Mama Friday as soon as I learned the premise of her business! So clever, so simple and an amazing way of keeping another niche group of people fit and healthy.
Angi, tell me a little about your fitness backstory. Obviously you are in great shape now, as a fitness trainer taking people and their dogs through their paces in your class – have you always been fit and healthy?
No, my interest in fitness didn’t start until my mid-twenties. My weight fluctuated throughout college and after, and at 25 and overweight I finally decided to make a change. I joined Weight Watchers online and started running. At first I got winded running around the block, but I was determined and signed up for the Indianapolis 500 Mini-Marathon. I joined a training group with a friend and I was hooked. At first I thought it was just about losing weight, which I did, but I gained much more. I used my running time to meditate and focus on what I really wanted. I ended up quitting my job, going to graduate school full-time to pursue a completely different career in the arts, and moving to New York City.
Once in NYC, I continued working out and running, and ran the NYC Marathon twice. Unbeknownst to me, I was pregnant when I ran it the second time – I thought I had the flu! I tried to keep up with my running while pregnant, but I started getting a weird pain in my abdomen and had to pee after about 10 minutes, so gave it up. I kept up with my strength training for a while, but then let that slide, too. After my daughter was born, I quickly lost most of the weight but then gained almost all of it back over the following 6 months. Like when I was 25, I once again decided to make a change and started working out and watching my diet again. I eventually got back in shape and then got pregnant with my second daughter. This time I was much better about keeping active during my pregnancy, and felt much better during and after.
It’s so gratifying when you find the sport or activity that actually keeps you hooked. When did you transition from being a runner and being in shape to becoming a trainer – was it after your youngest daughter Calliope’s birth?
Well, once Calli was born, I resolved to get back in shape and not let my fitness fall by the wayside again. It was hard to find time to work out with a baby, so I joined Stroller Strides where you bring your baby with you. I thought it would be a “weak” workout, but quickly got my butt kicked. I loved it! After taking classes for two months I took the leap and became an instructor. I had always thought about becoming a fitness instructor, but never thought I could do it. It’s so rewarding to work with other new moms and to focus on getting strong together. I also love that my kids can join me for the classes and see how much fun it is to work out. They mimic the workout during playtime, doing squats, push-ups, and sprints! I’ve even been able to convince my husband to run several 5Ks with me, so it’s benefitted the entire family.
That’s fantastic. A previous Fit Mama Friday runs a bootcamp for new mamas and she said something similar about the kids being so motivated and excited to work out, because it’s so much fun for them and their mothers. So, given that you were loving training mamas, how did the transition to dog owners happen?
It wasn’t until this year that I decided to take my fitness training a step further and start my own business, after spending four years as a stay-at-home-mom. I wanted to do something that wasn’t being done yet in NYC, which is hard to do! I’ve been a dog owner for years and often found myself debating whether to walk the dog or work out myself. Either way I would end up feeling guilty. Then it clicked – why not work out with your dog? I consulted with one of NYC’s best dog trainers, Anthony at Calm Energy Dog Training, to learn some basic training techniques and how best to incorporate the dogs so that they are safe and also get a great workout.
So, I have to ask – is the workout really just for the dog owners and the dogs happen to be there? Or do you involve the dogs as well?
The dogs are involved in the entire workout. It’s an hour-long cross-training class that incorporates strength training with fitness tubes, high-intensity cardio, plyometrics, agility, and core work.They are asked to sit while we do stationary moves, and are then rewarded with a sprint or run up the hill. We also do things like throw balls and race the dogs to fetch them (the dogs always win), or ask them to sit while we run up a hill and then call them to join us. It challenges them both mentally and physically, and in most cases they show behavioral improvement inside and outside of class.
Do you have to organize the classes by dog size, or dog energy levels? Have you had any scary moments with any of your canine class members?
We don’t organize by dog size or fitness requirements. If we have a large dog that likes to run, I’ll send the owner on some additional or longer runs. Alternately, if there is a dog that isn’t capable of as much running, I’ll have the owner do more stationary cardio or hold the dog myself while they do their thing. We make it work. Luckily, we haven’t had any scary situations. Dogs must be on a leash and under control of the owners at all times, and we keep the dogs so busy they don’t have time to get into much trouble. We also limit socialization among dogs during class because it can become disruptive and the main point of the class is for the owners to get in a great workout.
Do you get much of a workout during your bootcamp classes, or are you mainly supervising? If you do workout, have you found doing the dog fitness classes has helped your running?
I still run, but not as much as I did before. I’ve found that the strength and agility training I do in the class has definitely helped my speed and stamina when running. I usually do most of the class, depending on how many students I have. The more students, the less working out I do because I have to spend more time assisting the students, correcting form, etc.
Does this pregnancy feel better or easier because you’re in peak shape? I know you were continuing to work out during your pregnancy with Calliope as well, but now you’re a trainer you must feel the fittest you ever have.
I do feel stronger, but it seems like my body instantly went into pregnancy mode! I guess once you hit number 3 your body just knows what to do. I think the most positive effect my fitness is having is that I have a routine that I continue to follow. As you know, it’s hard to start a fitness program if you’ve been out of the game for awhile, especially when you’re pregnant. So, having made it part of my life has definitely made it easier to continue now.
Definitely – and it will make it easier to get back to your pre-pregnancy fitness level after baby number three arrives in June! 🙂
For the NYC readers with dogs – when and where can they find the Go Fetch Run classes?
During the regular season (April – October) we offer 5 classes per week in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and Central Park, Manhattan, as a combination of morning, evening, and weekend classes. Our memberships are purchased either monthly, or with a 5 or 10-class package. This is our first winter, and since our classes are outside, we have reduced the number of classes and created a Winter Workout Jam that runs twice a week Dec. 9 – Jan. 4 in Prospect Park. If it’s successful, we will continue through March. Our goal is to host a 5K fun run for people and their dogs in 2014.
Thanks so much for being on Fit Mama Friday today, Angi! Congrats on the business, as well as your newest little one arriving next year!