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Work out with your dog by your side at this fitness center

Pooch a little paunchy? Here's a place to help him, and you, get in shape

VIDEO: Woofinwaggle, a fitness center and dog spa in North Raleigh, where people squat, lunge and lift weights while their pooches of all sizes and breeds stretch and balance on Bosu balls alongside them.
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VIDEO: Woofinwaggle, a fitness center and dog spa in North Raleigh, where people squat, lunge and lift weights while their pooches of all sizes and breeds stretch and balance on Bosu balls alongside them.

Dogs are said to be humans’ best friends, but they may also be their best workout partners.

At Woofinwaggle, a fitness center and dog spa in North Raleigh, people squat, lunge and lift weights while their pooches of all sizes and breeds stretch and balance on balance-training balls alongside them. Then the pairs dash to the next exercise station: an obstacle course with plastic cones and hurdles.

At the end of every 60-minute class, lead by Woofinwaggle owner and class instructor Carol Frasso, people cool down by stretching and giving their dog a massage.

“It’s an outlet for people to exercise their dogs and themselves while having fun and being healthy,” Frasso said. “It’s a good bonding experience, and I see it as a great addition to the community.”

Exercising has a host of benefits for both humans and pets, Frasso said, including preventing sickness, reducing stress levels and helping dogs with behavioral issues that might be caused by pent-up energy. After classes, which average about four people but can include up to eight, owners often text Frasso photos of their tired, sleepy dogs.

Frasso, a certified fitness instructor, opened Woofinwaggle at 8471 Garvey Drive in June. Before they can sign up for classes, people and their pets go through an orientation with Frasso, who evaluates their fitness level and outlines behavioral rules for dogs. Classes are primarily held indoors and include bootcamps, senior courses, after-school programs for children, dogs-only sessions and personal training. The first class costs $15, and after that it is $10 per class on a pay-as-you-go system or an unlimited monthly membership of $49.99.

They’re part of your family. They travel with you, celebrate holidays with you ... they’re like your children.

Carol Frasso, owner of Woofinwaggle, about dogs

Inside the facility, a calming space with purple and gray walls littered with dog posters and exercise equipment, owners and their dogs can also visit the Woof Spa, which offers a self-serve dog wash and grooming services. Prices range from $14 to $65, depending on the dog’s size, whether an owner or a Woofinwaggle employee is washing the dog and additional services, such as a flea and tick wash or conditioning treatments. The business also sells shampoo, conditioner, collars and other retail items.

Woofinwaggle also hosts dog parties, where pooches can don party hats, paint pictures, run through a fitness course and chow down on a personalized birthday cake.

People are increasingly willing to spend more money on their pets. In 2015, people spent more than $60 billion on their pets, including more than $5 million on grooming and boarding services, according to the American Pet Products Association. Some restaurants and businesses now allow pets and some bars host pup crawls, a spinoff of pub crawls.

“Dogs are not the pet that families tie up in the backyard with the cute little dog house anymore,” Frasso, who lives in Raleigh, said. “They’re part of your family. They travel with you, celebrate holidays with you ... they’re like your children.”

After working in the technology sector for more than 30 years, Frasso quit her job in 2014 and decided to channel her love for animals and fitness into a business. Molly, her Goldendoodle – a hybrid of a poodle and golden retriever – often greets visitors and helps Frasso illustrate exercises for dogs.

“When I quit my job, I said, ‘Molly, I’m going to quit my job and do something that you can come to work with me every day,’ and she’s very happy about that,” Frasso said.

Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler

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