It didn’t take long for personal trainer Jason Siebert to realise he’d found the source of motivation his clients had been missing.
But a four-legged furry friend was the last thing he had imagined.
“I’ve always volunteered at animal shelters and recently began going more often to take a different dog for a run each day,” Siebert told The Huffington Post Australia.
“Dogs are born to move. I’d see how sad and depressed they looked in their tiny cage -- they’re screaming to get out -- and when they do they’re absolutely just bounding with joy,” Siebert said.
The stark reality of the lack of staffing and resources available to get the dogs out for a run on a regular basis got Siebert thinking outside the box.
As a personal trainer who was more than familiar with excuses from clients about not having time to exercise, he knew that a dog would give them a purpose to get out and move.
“I knew that the fulfillment I was getting from these dogs -- seeing their smiling faces -- was something that other people could benefit from,” Siebert said.
Not only would a rescue dog get them moving, but it would improve the quality of life for the animals.
And so Siebert launched Rescue Your Fitness, pairing volunteers of all fitness levels with shelter dogs.
The concept? Simply sign up as a volunteer at your local rescue shelter and drop by during business hours to take a dog for a run. Afterwards, you’re encouraged to upload a picture to social media with your new buddy, with the idea of increasing its chances of adoption.
So far, the concept has been picked up by five rescue shelters across New South Wales with the plan to expand Australia wide.
But Siebert’s end game goes much deeper than simply motivating people to move.
“If it gains enough momentum, I want to share this concept in a way that helps the mental health of Australians,” Siebert said.
“You really can’t put a price on the feeling of appreciation and joy after hanging out with these dogs for just a short time -- it’s a win-win for both the dog and the walker,” Sibert said.