Training Thursday

Every Thursday for who knows how long, Matthew and I will be having private lessons with a tutor. But these are no ordinary lessons. These are lessons to get Matthew trained as a mental health therapy dog. You might be sitting there scratching your head? What, Jenny?? A mental health therapy dog?? Yup! I'll be blogging on Thursday about our Thursday sessions for as long as they go on!! I have to do it on the same day, or I might forget what we did!

As I've mentioned, my son Ronin has special needs. About 2 years ago his psychiatrist recommended that we look in to getting Ronin a specially trained service dog, and even wrote us a prescription for one! But our insurance wouldn't cover it, and of the many programs I contacted, no one had a dog that they just wanted to give me. Tongue Out These dogs are pricey! Any where from $20,000-$50,000. Yes. You read that correctly.

I decided to do the next best thing and adopt a dog that had been bred as a service dog, but for reasons was not able to complete his training. That's where Matthew came in to the picture. I waited 18 months for him. And it was worth the wait!! He came to us fully house trained, and he's smart as a whip, and boy does he ever love Ronin and Ronin just adores him!!

This is the two of them enjoying an after school snack this week Smile


I had the trainer come to the house on Monday afternoon when the children were home. She got to see how Matthew and the trio interacted together. She got to witness Ronin having one of his "off" days and how Matthew responded to him, and vice versa and she said without a doubt, Matthew was a great fit for a therapy dog and she'd love to work with us on getting him through that process.

Ronin uses Matthew as his giant security blanket, and Matthew knows exactly what to do; he provides Ronin with a sense of calmness when he's stressed or upset. He nudges Ronin to get him back on task, and despite Ronin knowing NO boundaries when it comes to personal space, Matthew takes it all in stride, letting ME know he's had enough by gently walking over to wherever I am and either leaning up strongly against my leg, or putting his head in my lap. This is his way of saying "mama, Ronin is overwhelming me and I need a little break." I gently stroke Matthew, tell him what a good boy he is, and generally within a minute (really, maybe less) Matthew is back at Ronin's side.

The majority of our training will take place while the children are at school. I am considered Matthew's handler, and when we go through the certification process, it is me that will be leading him through it.

To begin with, Matthew and I have to establish a relationship with boundaries. That means he needs to know what I want for him to do, and I need to know how to ask for him to do it. He has some basic training, and a great base for us to build upon. Today we started with heel and easy walk. I want him to walk on my left side, I want him to sit when I stop. We worked on that up and down the street, in the backyard around some very tempting vegetation that he likes to be distracted by, and we did it throughout the house (quick turns in small places) and overall he did very well. Better than I did. Undecided I wasn't giving praise at the right time nor cuing as early as I should have been. That's okay. We are a work in progress!  I did do some things right! Though I can't remember what any of those were right now.

We have all week to practice! Next week we are meeting in a public place to see how he does around noise ( house is pretty dang noisy) and people. He is easily distracted, so next week's lesson could be interesting!

Tomorrow night I get to go shopping at Pet Smart!! Matthew needs some new toys! Apparently the stuffed animals he loves could be very confusing for him in the long run. Since they are soft and plushy, he could end up eating a couch cushion or pillow b/c the texture is going to feel the same. YIKES!! Don't want that happen. We also discussed my running with the dog and the trainer said she could tell Matthew was so happy when he was "working" so he'd probably really enjoy wearing a doggy backpack and could carry our water bottles! Score!! She said light colored pavement was okay for running, grass is better, stay away from black. Tomorrow we are going to hit up the trail for 5 miles and do our homework!! How do you get your therapy dog certification? Practice, practice, practice!

Have you ever gone through professional dog training with your pup? Just basic obedience or did you go further in your training??

Workout Wednesday

I'm in the midst of changing up my workout schedule...again. It's fun to try new things and after running in to my former coach, Holly at the Gasparilla Expo, I decided to take her up on her offer of trying out the classes offered at Cheval Athletic Club.

Cheval is a beautiful gated community in Tampa and last year they re-vamped their club and opened it to the public. They offer a wide variety of group fitness classes; Spinning, Pilates, Yoga and Strength Classes like TRX. But in my opinion what really sets them apart is their triathlon training. They offer a Master's swim class, a running group and even brick practice!

Yesterday I went and took Holly's "Pure Strength" class. I've taken her classes hundreds of times, and I'd describe them as Pilates based mixed with HiiT. After running a 1/2 Marathon on Sunday, the class was tough during the lunge and squat tracks. Oh and the weight behind the knee and lifting up and out, that was pretty grueling, too. Had I not been sore in my quads, I would have pushed myself harder, but I wanted to do a recovery workout and I accomplished that.


Holly is an amazing coach, so when she recommended that I come back and take Monika's TRX class, I didn't even think twice. I had only a vague idea of what TRX was, but I'm up for almost any sort of fitness these days. The schedule said that there was a 15 minute intro class before the actual class started so I made sure to arrive in time for that. It was just me and one other lady for the intro. Monika had us do some basic work without the TRX bands so she could check our form. We did squats, lunges, planks and pushups and I'm proud to report that she said I had PREFECT form and was very strong. That made my day. Laughing

There were 6 TRX bands total, 3 on each side of the room and by the time class started there were 10 of us, but it was not an issue. Monika had us alternating between HiiT activities on the floor with weights, burpees, mountain climbers, etc., though for the most part I didn't have to share my TRX, but I still did the HiiT to keep my heart rate up.

Monika was an awesome instructor. One of the great things about Cheval is that it is small. You get more assistance from the instructor, so it was like a small group personal training session. We did pushups, tricep dips, mountain climbers, pikes and planks with the TRX. We did more, but that's all I can remember for now. And you guys know me, I am a planking fool. Planks on the TRX are no joke! Monika came and checked my core and I think she was surprised. She squeezed my oblique and said "whoa, you are strong." I loved to hear that. Smile

By the time class was all over, I had a fairly decent burn. I took low options on some of the HiiT moves, and certainly I did on the TRX because it was just my first time, so my overall calorie burn was lower than it will be if I continue with TRX. There is certainly a learning curve!

After TRX was a 30 minute stretch class, also taught by Monika. I stayed and stretched. It was wonderful. And then after class Monika and I chatted and got to know each other a little better and I learned that she teaches a Kettlebell course at a YMCA in Tampa. I have NEVER taken a Kettlebell class. Can you guess what I am doing tomorrow? Wink


Have you ever taken a TRX class? What did you think? What about Kettlebells?

Pushing Our Luck: March Push-Up Challenge!!


For March, Jenny and Denise are Pushing Our Luck by taking on the One Hundred Push Ups Program. Of course, we’ll still be working the abs, but if you follow #pushingit, you will be able to follow our push-ups progress and join our Twitter support group.

To begin the Pushing Our Luck Challenge, you have to first perform the One Hundred Push Ups’ initial test to determine your level and starting point. I vlogged my performance test, so you can get a good laugh and an idea on how it works. I'll post the link to the vlog on March 1st.

Read here about the Initial Test and how you'll follow your own program!

Alternate Push-ups (or girlie push-ups) are still push-ups and count equally!

Where will you start?

Perform your test. Post your start amount and spread the word about our March challenge.

Then, follow the One Hundred Push Ups program each week by doing your predetermined level of push-ups three days a week.

As for me, I will be starting Day 1 on Friday, March 2 to be on schedule for our weekly round-up which will include a full report of my progress. I would love for you to share your progress each week too. You can share your daily progress to keep yourself accountable! You know I'll be sharing mine ;)

Remember to tweet #pushingit to share your reps and progress.

Watch my initial test here:

Hope this makes sense!