The latest fitness craze? Working out with a cat

A film of a man using his pet moggy as part of his fitness regime has been watched more than 20 million times in the past two weeks.

On one hand this is bizarre, but in some ways it is a surprise that this hasn’t happened before, because it combines two of the most popular internet trends— handsome men working out and funny cats.

In his clip, Travis DesLaurier, aged 31, deadlifts his ginger tom, Jacob, as part of his fitness training. He has shared it on his Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds, and suddenly he and Jacob are famous. “I use Jacob as my training partner, my medicine ball and my weights set,” he told me. “You can get a seriously decent workout using your cat.”

DesLaurier, a part-time model, filmed the clip three weeks ago in his home in Edmonton, Canada. The pairing of DesLaurier showing his chiselled abs and the indifferent-looking cat being used as a dumbbell, has made them social-media stars. The clip has been viewed 21 million times on his Facebook page; and it is still being shared. The Canadian is an unapologetic showman who flirts with the camera.

DesLaurier says that he got the idea of “collaborating” with Jacob on workout videos after the cat, which weighs 20lb, “had been talking about losing weight for some time”. DesLaurier suggests there may be some obstacles to this becoming a mainstream trend. A cat can be a good workout buddy — but only for short periods. “Jacob is docile, but he can be tricky,” he says.” He doesn’t like to be held for too long, so you can only work out with him for a few minutes at a time.”

DesLaurier hit on the idea of the feline workout while playing with his beloved pet. He did biceps curls with Jacob sitting contentedly in one hand as he was lifted up and down. He did another set of exercises — V-sits — with Jacob that tighten the core, work the obliques, abdominals and the serratus, a group of muscles than run from the pectoral muscle to the shoulder blade. A third exercise — incline shoulder presses — works the deltoid muscle at the front, side and rear of the shoulder.

How does DesLaurier know his cat enjoys it? “He always has a surprised look,” DesLaurier agrees, “but that’s just Jacob.” Jacob’s favourite exercise, apparently, is “cat scarfing” — being draped around DesLaurier’s shoulders.

DesLaurier’s ripped physique is, he admits, not entirely from workouts with his cat. At 5ft 10in and weighing 11st 6lb, he says he has “lucky genes”, but he also exercises four times a week at the gym.

He adopted Jacob four years ago. “I’d always wanted a Garfield-type cat, and I wanted unconditional love,” he says.

DesLaurier hopes to become an actor or a TV host. “I don’t have a girlfriend, and I’m not sure I want to have kids, but maybe that would change,” he says. “Until that happens, I’m happy to pursue my career.” He has set up a cat-supplies subscription service called Jacob’s Crate. DesLaurier says his cat is happy, and he has had “no negativity” from viewers — “I think people can see the affection and the bond that we have.”

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