When Alayna Defalco moved from New Jersey to North Carolina her lifestyle completely changed. She was no longer in the bustling busy city streets, and instead spent her commute to work driving through back country roads. One thing that she noticed was the incredible amount of stray dogs roaming the country roads. The sight of all of these poor dogs really started to bother her and eventually she couldn’t resist taking them home. She took her love for dogs a step further and began volunteering for the humane society and got very involved her local shelter.
While at the humane society she noticed that when the volunteers came in to walk the dogs, they needed no motivation to get out there and exercise. Defalco, who has a master’s in exercise physiology, had often pondered what motivates people to exercise.
Then, something clicked. Mix exercise with dogs and there was no motivation needed. Dogs don’t need to be motivated to move. Many times people with pets don’t need anything but the drive to take care of their pet.
She had a dream to open a place where people could come, work out, get healthy and bring their pet dog to join them. Her main focus of this dream was to include the special needs populations. Seniors, children, people with autism, arthritis and the obese are just some of the special needs groups she wanted to accommodate.
“Most gyms hire personal trainers that are not qualified to work with special-needs groups. Sometimes if someone with a special need does get a gym membership, they quickly find that they are not motivated, feel out of place and discover the programs offered just don’t work for their needs,” said Defalco.
Her family moved to Carolina Forest three years ago. She went to work at Coastal Carolina University, and her husband Rich has found a job as part owner and physical therapist at Professional Rehab Services. One day she met her silent partner and was able to make her dream come true. Furever Young was born.
“Furever Young is a place for fitness and fun for everyone, including your four-legged friend. Fitness and health is about enjoyment and socialization, at the same time increasing your strength, endurance and overall feeling great. We include classes and programs for all ages, from 2 months to 120 years old. We believe that education is key, especially when dealing with our special populations that are usually ignored in your average gym,” said Defalco.
Furever Young celebrated its grand opening Aug. 24. The public was invited to come in and take a look around register for classes and check out the facility, including the outdoor agility course. This is a course designed by engineers to accommodate all skill levels, special needs and pets. Participants can choose what level to do at each station or bypass some altogether.
Although shedoes not train dogs, dogs are welcome at any personal session to use the agility course and during the Fido & Fitness group class. Children are also welcome in the gym with a parent. There are several classes just for parents and kids to do together.
The Dig Brother Dig Sister program offered, matches up service dogs with children from the community who need some encouragement to get up and move. The service not only benefits the special needs child but offers companionship to the service dog.
Gina Christ enjoyed bringing her 6-year-old dog Maxine to the agility course during the grand opening. She is excited for the new place to be open because she trains dogs for kids with autism and developmentally challenged people at SOS Health Care. She also teaches basic dog obedience as well. She feels like this course will help in training and exercising dogs.
Paul Yurkin of Paul Yurkin Photography spent the day with his 2-year-old dog Savu playing on the agility course.
“My dog and I loved it. We will definitely be back, can’t wait. This place is great,” he said.
For more information call 910-258-9009, email email@example.com, stop in at 1320 U.S. 501 Business, Unit E (at the corner of S.C. 544 and U.S. 501) or check out www.fureveryoung.net.
Reach freelance writer JENNIFER LOMBARDI at firstname.lastname@example.org.