Posted: July 18, 2014, 1:30 p.m. EDT
By Clay Jackson
What a business wouldn’t give to have K9 Fit Club’s problem: skyrocketing demand for human-canine fitness trainers, causing the company to rethink its franchise model.
As a result, the nation’s first-ever online certification program for people interested in offering joint fitness programs for people and their dogs was born.
"Our goal is to span the country with our unique fitness programs and develop certified trainers dedicated to getting and keeping both dogs and owners healthy,” said Tricia Montgomery, founder and president of the Chicago-based K9 Fit Club.
Under the franchise model, the company couldn’t build locations fast enough, said a company spokesperson, leading to the shift to certification.
"The new online certification program allows flexibility for those who work full-time or part-time, or who exercise with their dog as a hobby or just for fun,” Montgomery said.
This promotional piece sums up what’s in store for those who completed the online K9 Fit Club certification program.
The K9 Fit Club certification program runs $599, with a $200 discount for those who are already certified fitness trainers for people.
Montgomery said the cost of the program is a great return on investment.
"We have researched and made available job opportunities around the country where the certified trainer can go and teach a class at a retirement home, for example, and earn anywhere between $75 and $150 for the class,” she notes.
And when there are no openings in a particular area K9 Fit Club creates some.
"If someone said, ‘Hey, I’m moving to Nashville …’ and there aren’t any opportunities available there,” said Penny Warring, director of sales and marketing for K9 Fit Club, "we research the area and there will often be an opportunity waiting when they complete their certification.”
"We may have three to five opportunities in an area,” Montgomery acknowledged.
"That’s three to five opportunities for three to five certified trainers or three to five for one trainer,” she explained.
The basic certification program consists of 14 modules with exams for each.
The certification modules were developed with input from personal trainers, veterinarians, dog trainers, doctors and dog behaviorists and include Understanding Wellness in the Human-Animal Bond, Science of Exercise, Dogs and Science of Exercise, Humans and Veterinary Protocol.
The Veterinary Protocol module covers general concepts of contagious diseases and infectious agents, and general concepts and protocols for clean up and hygiene.
"This module is very important because every class we teach complies with American Veterinary Medical Association and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards,” Montgomery said.
Phoenix veterinarian Sonnet Jarvis, DVM, CCRT, completed all of the modules, passed all of the exams and received her certification in one weekend, while others take a more leisurely approach and can take up to a month to be certified.
"K9 Fit Club Certification program is ideal for current personal trainers to further their accreditation and expand their business,” Montgomery said.
Being certified is also a great way to supplement one’s income.
"It is also an ideal scenario for stay-at-home moms who would like to pick up some extra kibble during the week when their kids are in school,” Montgomery said.
Once certified, K9 Fit Club trainers receive a K9 Fit Kit to either start a pet-friendly fitness business of their own, enhance an existing business with a human-dog fitness program or freelance at a pet-friendly gym or other such establishment.
The K9 Fit Kit is a "virtual gym that has everything necessary—branding materials, a pop-up branding tent and workout items, such as cones, mats and bosu balls—to run a successful class in what they’ve been trained that can enhance a current business or enable them to start a program wherever,” Warring said.
Certified trainers have started programs at veterinary clinics, parks, dog facilities or standard gyms, Warring added.
Since the program launched in June, 50 individuals have been certified, with another nearly 200 now enrolled.
"We want to give everyone the opportunity to make money doing what they love and loving what they do," Montgomery said.
"We completed our certification training … and we are totally inspired,” David Schwarz, DVM, and Anne Lindsay said.
"Animals matter and the human-animal bond is something … worth cultivating. [We’re] psyched to be a part of this great mission,” they added.
To enroll in the certification program and to find openings for certified trainers nationwide, go to K9FitClub.com.
Industry Professional Site: Comments from non-industry professionals will be removed.