SYSS Boot Camp

a blog post by James

It’s a dark, cold, and slushy Sunday morning in February in the aftermath of a messy snowstorm. Kari, James, and friend Kristen are driving over an hour to an industrial neighborhood north of Baltimore, to meet a couple of other friends and spend the morning in a fitness boot camp. Some of us will be running, jumping, sweating (James, Kristen, and most everyone else), while a few others enjoy a light picnic brunch at Sweat Performance in Timonium, MD. It promises to be a tough, exhausting time (for those not eating brie and drinking prosecco, that is). So why go through it?

The boot camp is actually a fundraiser for the Show Your Soft Side campaign. You know the one, with billboards and ads featuring professional and elite athletes and more (Big Softies in SYSS-parlance) pictured with pets, proclaiming “Only a punk would hurt a cat or a dog”. Today they have combined efforts with Sweat Performance’s resident Big Softie Nick Ehrlich and Lululemon to host the boot camp to raise money for the campaign.

We found out about the boot camp fundraiser through friends of ours, Chris and Val. Chris and Val are, among other things, avid animal advocates. They volunteer at local shelters and have three rescue pups of their own. They found out about the fundraiser and asked if we might be interested. Of course we were.

Well, let’s be precise. We were all interested in raising money and awareness for a good cause, but not all were so interested in spending a cold, dreary Sunday morning working out. So Val and Kari worked with Sandra at SYSS, and came up with a compromise. Chris, James and Kristen will work out, and Kari and Val will bring drinks and snacks, as well as words of motivation for the boot campers. Everyone wins!





We arrived at the gym early, having allotted extra time to travel due to the nasty road conditions. The parking area seemed pretty empty, and we’re worried perhaps things were cancelled. Our fears turned out to be unfounded, fortunately, but we did find out that the foster dogs that were planning on coming were unable to make it due to the weather. We were just among the first of the boot campers to arrive. Everyone came in, registered and donated, and started stretching (or unpacking snacks!).


Chris and Val arrived soon after, and as Val and Kari prepped their brunch, and made fast friends with the women of SYSS, the remaining 40 or so boot campers arrived and started getting ready. Just after 10am, Nick and his colleague Doug got things underway. For the next hour we all ran, jumped and slam-balled through a high-energy workout, while Kari and Val cheered us all on (in between bites of brie and grapes).


Afterwards, we got to take pictures with the trainers, chat with the other campers and SYSS-ers, as well as shop merchandise a local Lululemon store brought in (half of the proceeds of sales going to the fundraising campaign).

All of the Boot Campers!

All of the Boot Campers!


After!    Our sweaty bunch (L-R): James, Doug, Kristen, Chris, Nick


After!  Val and Kari wanted their pictures taken in front of the quote, too.

All in all, it was more than worth it to make the trek on a nasty morning to spend an hour getting sweaty with strangers. We had a great time, met some cool folks, and helped raise more than $2000 for a great and local group of animal advocates.

For more information about the Show Your Soft Side Campaign visit their website at

If you are in the Baltimore area and are looking for a gym or a trainer, you could do a lot worse than Sweat Performance. Check them out at

Can you handle my truth? by Zozo

April 2011

i didn’t like the little girl the first time i met her. mom and dad had to bring me for a meet-n-sniff at the rescue place.   it smelled weird and there were a lot of barkings and new peoples.  mom and dad usually don’t make me go into those “environments” (their word) because it doesn’t “set me up for success” (Trainer Tim’s words).

i’m sniffing around a big room, and all of a sudden this little puppy runs under my tail and through my legs.  she’s beneath my belly and i can’t see her.  i get nervous and i do something i never do: i growl.  that makes mom and dad unhappy (Uh-Uh!), and the little puppy has an accident.  i tuck my tail and trot away.

dad comes over to see if i’m ok.  “hey doodle, it’s ok.  are you ok, bud? she doesn’t know her manners and we need you to try to be patient with her.”

mom is helping wipe up the accident, and i feel bad that the little girl embarrassed herself.  rookie mistake.

we try again, and this time we have a tiny milkbone treat side-by-side and i let her sniff me while mom has me sit.  dad jogs around the room and we both follow him, but the little dog is slow and her feet don’t move right.  i guess things are ok, because the little girl comes home with us.

they’re calling her mj.  i don’t even know what kind of a name that is.  it’s certainly not as regal as zozo.  she’s fuzzy and pink.

let me make one thing clear: being a big brother is hard work.  the little girl doesn’t know how to play ball or sit.  she tries to chase the cat, which is a big no-no. she doesn’t understand that sitting on the couch is a reward if you’ve been a very good boy or if you’re not feeling well.  she doesn’t even run right because her back legs work faster than her front ones. her brakes don’t work.  she snores louder than dad.  she has a lot to learn.

 oh, and dad and i are officially out-numbered by girls.  gross.