My thighs burn as I lean into a squat. Sweat inches down my spine and my face twists with determination as I try not to overbalance onto the sofa. This isn't your average home workout, though. I'm locked in a battle of wills with the puppy sprawled on the carpet in front of me.
The pup in question is Bow, a Jackapoo puppy with frizzy black fur and boundless energy. She has the tenacity of a terrier and the intelligence of a poodle: a formidable combination. And the task at hand is a simple game of fetch, the only difference being that we're in a living room and I'm meant to hold my squat until she's returned the ball.
The exercise is part of Olympic gymnast Louis Smith's new combined workout video for humans and dogs. The 11-minute video – imaginatively titled Petsercise with Louis Smith – was launched this month following the news that one in three dogs in the UK are overweight.
In the short film, made in conjunction with animal site Wagglepets, Smith takes sporty dog owners through a series of exercises, all of which can be done in the house by both man and his best friend. To demonstrate, the athlete is joined on screen by dogs Titch and Gift, who perform (without fuss) figure-of-eights between his legs, as well the squat-fetch routine, sprints and various other joint endeavours in what is claimed to be Smith's lounge.
Unfortunately for me, Bow takes a rather blasé attitude to playtime and – on fetching the toy – slumps down a few metres away from me, ball in mouth, glancing up every now and again to check I'm still in position. Eventually, I let out a growl of frustration and tumble to the floor.
Exercising from the comfort of one's own home is particularly appealing in the winter months when temperatures plummet and nights darken, and celebrity workout DVDs have grown in popularity over the last couple of years. Davina McCall, once the queen of lean, now faces competition from the likes of Lauren Goodger, Kym Marsh and Charlotte Crosby. Crosby's DVD, 3 Minute Belly Blitz – which was released this time last year – was a knock-out success, selling more copies in one week than any other fitness DVD in the last 15 years.
When it comes to pumping iron with your pooch, however, there's not much on the market. Dog owners are typically forced to venture outside, trudging along sodden paths, heads bowed against the driving rain as they wait for Fido to fetch. But is exercising your mutt inside the house feasible?
That's for Bow to answer. As a young dog, she needs regular stimulation. Her owner, Lizze Fyfe, 25, tells me she's always looking for new ways to wear her out.
“She usually has three good walks a day,” says Ms Fyfe. “It does take a lot to tire her out, even after a walk.”
It's a slow start. Bow cocks her head in confusion as I lunge next to her, although when I use treats to coax her into jumping over my back leg she happily obliges. I can't fault her method. If someone held a bacon sandwich in front of me throughout a 5k run, I'd finish in record time.
Next, I try to engage her in a figure-of-eight, which she does – but only on the promise of more treats. She doesn't play ball when we play ball, preferring instead to watch me squat from a distance, but she does enjoy the sprints up and down the living room. We play for an hour and I must admit, it's a lot of fun. I'm not convinced, though, that it could replace real exercise – for me or for her.
Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko agrees, saying regular outdoor walks should never be substituted for indoor exercise.
“Daily exercise is absolutely crucial for a dog to keep it fit and healthy,” she says. “Dog owners should only ever be using exercise videos with their dogs if they complement daily walks and are done safely.”
But Petsercise isn't the only option available to restless canines. Recently, at the Las Vegas tech-tradeshow CES, CleverPet introduced an interactive game which is meant to keep idle paws busy while owners are at work. The gadget, which has been described as a games console for dogs, comprises three flashing lights and a treat dispenser. Pups have to press the lights in the correct order to win treats. It's a useful tool for working dog owners but, as with the exercise video, it's not a substitute for fresh air and proper walks.
Bow and I come to the end of our workout. My glutes are tingling but Bow seems decidedly unfazed. I ask owner Lizze whether she'll be giving it a go herself. She says she will.
“I wouldn't replace her walks with it but I would use it as a fall-back if I couldn't take her out one evening,” she says. “It was great for Bow to learn some new tricks and it was an opportunity to play as well.”
Still, in the end – while living room workouts might encourage busy dog owners to spend quality time with their fluffy companions– they're no walk in the park.
To try Louis's video, go to morethan.comReuse content