I have a really fast metabolism. I inherited it from my mother, and it lets me eat cake and still somehow lose weight. I have never been more than 106 pounds, despite my version of the food pyramid being reversed with sweets as the biggest portion.

After turning 22 at the beginning of August, I realized my naturally fast metabolism is going to start slowing down. With my illnesses, I can’t exercise like I used to and my obsession with snack cakes has been renewed as of late.

As I freaked out over this realization, I nearly tripped over Tanner as I was going to feed him. Then it hit me. Tanner, merely through his cat behavior, has been my personal trainer this whole time. Here’s how:

1. Weight lifting

Tanner is a hefty boy, weighing 15 pounds. He’s not a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat, either. He’s what I like to call the linebacker breed. He’s stocky with a bit of chub and he’s strong enough to knock me down when I’m kneeling. And, unfortunately, he likes to go places he’s not supposed to go. Then, I have the great chore of picking up this blob of man-cat, and when I do, I really feel the burn.

2. Footwork … and tumbling

In high school, I tried out for the track team. I didn’t even make it to the first meet. While I was a wuss and quit, I’ll never forget a little exercise known as karaokes. It’s a type of high-knee sidestepping that’s really fast, and I nearly fell flat on my face most of the time I attempted them.

All cat owners are familiar with the mini heart attack when your cats run under your feet or through your legs. Either you have something tasty in your hands or they’re just extra loving and don’t quite know how to show it in a less life-threatening way. When this happens I think of it as Tanner keeping me on my toes — literally.

There are times where I fail this part of his training program and go tumbling over him. However, if I ever want to become a cheerleader or ninja, I have some skills.

3. Hurdles

The times when I can’t get him to stop moving and the times where I can’t get him to move are about 50-50. When he doesn’t want to move it’s almost always in a door way or passageway.

“Tanner, I have to use the bathroom! Hurry. Move!"

My frantic cries of urgency are met with a turning of his ears and a glare in the opposite direction, letting me know he heard me, but that my request has been denied. None shall pass unless they step over the furry unmovable mountain. Okay, so I’m not jumping over him, per se, but no one said hurdles couldn’t be stepped over.

4. Yoga

One of the main things cats are known for is flexibility. They can contort their bodies and fit in tight spaces better than blocks in Tetris. I envy the way he can scratch his back without throwing out a shoulder.

When he gets comfortable in bed, Tanner manages to stretch out far enough to take up as much room as possible. In a way, Tanner teaches me yoga whether I want to learn or not, because I have to turn into a pretzel to sleep around him. It’s not like I could wake him up or move him. That’d just be rude.

Who knew that all this time, Tanner wasn’t trying to be obnoxious, but was just trying to save me hundreds of dollars on a gym membership? From now on I plan to take his guidance more seriously. I’m on my way to being ready for the next swimsuit season!

Does your cat help you exercise? What sort of moves does she do? Let us know in the comments!

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About the author: Brielle lives in Youngstown, Ohio, with her kitty, Tanner, and her mom. She is an English major at Youngstown State University, with one more semester to go. She writes about cats, cosplay, and anime on her blog. Keep up with her and Tanner at Tanner the Kittie.