Alexis Miller, owner of Cisco Pilates in Asheville, NC, discovered a great new way to up the fun factor of her mat classes: inviting furry friends from the local humane society to join her human students.
That was the question Alexis Miller, owner of Cisco Pilates in Asheville, NC, asked herself when she spotted the Asheville Humane Society (AHS) booth at a local 5K race this past June. All of a sudden…lightning bolt! “I thought, Everyone is doing yoga with goats, cats, horses. I decided I needed more puppies in my life, and that I should do [a class called] Pilates with Puppies!” She contacted Adam Cotton at the AHS and proposed teaching a mat class, with the entire $10 fee being donated to the organization. Cotton was immediately on board. “He said he had just gotten a local yoga teacher to do their first Yoga with Cats class, so he was excited about Pilates with Puppies.”
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Miller recalls. So beginning in October, Miller started offering Pilates with Puppies once or twice a month at the AHS. “People were ridiculously excited about the puppies,” she says. “To be honest, I thought we would get nothing done in this class. It’s a mixedlevel class, with a lot of people who have never done Pilates before. And there are definitely a few people who really aren’t there for the Pilates! But I was really surprised how much we actually got accomplished in an hour.”
Miller limits the class to 40 people, which is the room’s maximum capacity. “Tickets sell out in advance— sometimes as much as a month or more,” she says, but she keeps a wait-list in case there are any cancellations. (No-shows understand they won’t get a refund.) The puppies are generally about two months old. “Their small size is helpful for lifting them in some of the exercises,” Miller says. Some of her favorite moments are when a puppy climbed onto a woman’s stomach during the Hundred. “Another participant held a water bottle in her mouth and had a tug of war with a pit bull!” she recalls.
Miller says Pilates with Puppies is a great way to introduce people to the method, as it gets people in the door who wouldn’t normally consider taking a Pilates class. “One woman even posted on Facebook, ‘This is probably the only way I would ever do Pilates,’” Miller laughs. “I’m getting tons of positive feedback. Everyone thinks it’s a super-fun class and a great cause.”
It has also been a boon for the humane society. “They are getting lots of new faces at the AHS, which is great, because they run frequent adoption specials on all animals, including dogs, cats and rabbits.” While the Pilates puppies are usually all available for adoption, “the AHS says they never have trouble adopting them out.” But other animals and dogs upwards of six months old are more of a challenge; Pilates with Puppies brings awareness to pets of all ages (and species) that need adoption.
So far, Miller hasn’t adopted a dog herself. “My three cats are scared of dogs, so while I would love to adopt one someday, now is not the time,” she explains. “But I love dogs, and this class is giving me lots of exposure to get lots of doggy love.
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