Trying to stay fit is difficult and it’s just as hard for our four-legged friends. Petbarn’s Biggest Loser Challenge has returned for its second year in the hope of raising awareness of the importance of the health of our pets at home.
With over 400 participants in 2017, Petbarn are once again encouraging owners to consider what they are feeding their pets. Across 12 weeks, 10 chosen pets and their owners will experience a complete health overhaul and go into the running to win a $2000 Petbarn voucher and $1000 cash.
Whilst Greencross Vets will provide each pet with a customised nutrition plan, Petbarn has also recruited celebrity fitness trainer Sam Wood to provide the nutrition and fitness advice for their owners. Each owner will be given a personal consultation and access to three rounds of his online training program ’28 by Sam Wood’.
I had the opportunity to chat with Sam about the 12-week challenge (and of course about our own adorable pets).
Why did you decide to get on board with PetBarn for this challenge?
‘I’m a dog-nut. I’ve got a chocolate Labrador called Hendrix who comes to work with me every day, walks with me every day, we film my fitness videos together and you can even see him there in the background. It’s a bit of a task to keep him trim because he’d eat everything in sight, given the opportunity.
“When Petbarn spoke to me and told me some of the stats about how overweight some Aussie dogs and cats are, I was shocked actually – 41% of dogs and 32% of cats are overweight. You’re shocked when you first hear it but then you go, well that’s probably true. And I think it is something as a pet-owner, we always have that little bit of guilt about – when we give them the treats under the table we think we are being nice to them but it’s not always good in the long run.
“It was something really good to be involved in to educate people on things they probably don’t think of too often. I help the fitness side of things and then Greencross Vets help participants understand how overweight your dog is, about portion control and about feeding your dog for their breed and their size.”
Pets and particularly dogs, are considered man’s best friend. Do you think this is a motivator for people to lose weight themselves?
“Absolutely. We did the challenge last year and that was the feedback. It can work for both. The owners were given feedback on what they were eating as well as being educated on what to feed their pets. They got active together and killed two birds with one stone.
“I often see people exercising out there with their dogs and I wonder if they didn’t have that dog, if they’d still be doing it and I think a challenge like this probably takes it to another level again. You may exercise more with your dog but again, how long for, how frequently and at what intensity?
“It’s not just good physically, it’s good mentally for you to get some fresh air, some sunlight and clear all the madness. I find walking Hendrix, getting my morning coffee, starting my day that way incredibly therapeutic.”
What kind of routine do you have for Hendrix? Do you ever incorporate his exercise routine into your own workouts?
“Oh yeah, we mix it up. He loves to go to the beach and go for a swim. We like running hills, running a couple of kilometres nice and easy to the dog park and then I’ll take him off the lead. And he’ll go with me most of the time…I don’t think you have to make it too structured but give them the environment where they can run and be free and muck around with other animals.”
Tell me a bit about the structure of your program ‘28 by Sam Wood’ and the kind of training and advice the chosen participants can look forward to.
“Participants get three rounds of my program across the 12 weeks and that’s pretty comprehensive as it is. That gives them a different workout for 28 minutes every day that they can do with me, and then it educates them on how to exercise to complement that or substitute that. They get a full, healthy and easy to create eating plan every week and just lots of support to help them with their goal setting too.”
What do you hope participants, and even those who aren’t selected for the challenge, take away from completing it or even hearing about it?
“Education. It’sgreat if they get the awareness and education just from hearing about it but there’s nothing stronger than doing it. Experiencing the benefits with your dog, lose some kilos yourself, feel energised yourself and hopefully, create some habits you both maintain forever.”