AG820: Open Hips and Fast Feet For Agility and Dog Sport Handlers

Instructor: Karen Kay

Course Details

A class to aid the handler in developing the mobility needed to “separate” their upper body from their lower body to improve their handling maneuvers.  

Mobility and flexibility of the 22 muscles in the hip region will be the focus in this class.  Huge changes can be made in six weeks to improve your ability to “open your hips.”  Along with these changes, you will learn how to make your feet faster so as to match your new found hip mobility.  All of this will add up to preventing injuries to the handler and more fluid movement for giving the right signals and getting to the right places for your dog!

You only need space slightly larger than a yoga mat to participate in this class.  The only equipment needed will be an exercise mat, a stretching strap or dog leash will do, some athletic or paint tape that can be put down on the floor, and some occasional “creativity”.  

I would also encourage you to let your dog participate in some form while you are exercising.  Get used to using that time for some training.  Mat work and other foundational skills can be practiced at the same time that you are exercising.  I never mind seeing your canine partners in the videos you send me and including them can make your time very productive for your team!

What are “Hip-Openers”? 

Everyone talks about “opening hips” to improve your front, back, and blind crosses in agility.  We also talk about “opening hips” to change direction more quickly.  Finally, we are told to “open our hips” to decrease back pain and improve our posture.  This process is much more complex than we often realize and most people unknowingly practice poses and stretches in a way which bypasses the actual hip-opening they offer.  We must learn to align our joints to find the “hip opening” potential that our bodies so desperately need.  

The hip is a joint, which means that it’s a moveable part of your body.  There are lots of movements available at the hip joint, including hip extension, hip flexion, hip abduction, hip adduction, and internal and external rotation.  Ideally all of these motions would be fluid and easy for you all of the time, but all too often, our hip joint movement is restricted in one or more planes (or all of them), resulting in hips we experience as “tight”.

What Does It Mean to Have Tight Hips?

Even though we talk about our joints being “tight”, the truth is that your joint itself isn’t really the issue.  It’s actually the muscles and fascia that cross your joint that restrict your movement.  And how do these tissues become restricted?  Well, your body adapts to what you do most frequently.  And the one body position that we as a culture tend to assume most frequently is sitting with our hips and knees flexed at 90 degrees.  Even if you don’t think you sit a lot, or if you have a job which requires you to stand, you’re probably forgetting all the other time you do spend sitting because it’s so ingrained in your daily lifestyle that you almost don’t even realize it.  

Our over-use of the sitting posture familiarizes our brain with a position of shortened hip flexors (the muscles that cross the front of our hips and attach around back to our spine) and hamstrings (the muscles that line the back of our thighs), as well as effectively “turns off” our otherwise powerful glutes, and throws our whole hip package out of balance.  This results in “tight hips” which then either causes pain and injury or makes it more difficult to execute the proper biomechanics for sport and fitness activities.  “Tight Hips” have a negative impact on everything we do in the sport of dog agility.  They make all of our handling skills more difficult and pre-dispose the handler to injury.  They also make it more difficult to execute the appropriate handling maneuver for your canine partner.  Tight hips will challenge your ability to change directions while you are running and or to move in a different direction to set your dog’s path on the course.  

What will we do in this class to open your hips?

There are 22 muscles that cross the hip on all sides and a varying angles, including your hip flexors in the front, your hamstrings, glutes, and deep lateral rotators in the back, your inner thigh muscles (adductors), and your outer thigh muscles (abductors).  

A “hip opener” is technically any stretch that lengthens any of the 22 muscles that cross the hip.  The most important thing is that you will learn how to position or align your joints in a way that actually stretches our hips.

Why does “Fast Feet” go with “Hip Openers”?

As you start to be able to “open your hips” more, it becomes more important to improve the fast twitch muscles in your feet and legs.  Once you increase your hip range of motion, your patterns when changing directions or sides with your dog will utilize a greater range of motion.  Thus, all of a sudden you are placing your feet in different places during your handling maneuvers.  

How will we train for “Fast Feet”?

In order to train “Fast Feet," you need to start new movement patterns slowly and then get faster at repeating them as you get accustomed to the pattern.  You cannot take advantage of your new found mobility in your hips if your feet are not ready to respond to the increase in range of motion during your handling maneuvers.  The goal is to move from one position to another much more effortlessly.

As you improve your “fast twitch” muscle fibers in your feet and lower legs, you are able to keep your feet low to the ground, but still move them into new movement patterns very quickly.  Your feet now become synchronized with your hip mobility.  This is a huge step toward improving all of your agility handling maneuvers and toward improving your ability to change direction more quickly while running the agility course.  

This class will help get you FASTER without actually RUNNING!



There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.

Registration will begin at 9:00 AM PST.

Enrollment limits: 15 gold, 25 silver, unlimited bronze. If you are interested in a bronze level spot you can sign up any time during the registration period.


FENZI 820     Syllabus


Week 1

  • What are the benefits of increased hip mobility in agility and other dog sports?

  • What kind of pain/soreness can be reduced with greater hip mobility?

  • How will flexibility and mobility be defined in this class?

  • Core Exercise Assessment (identify your starting point)

  • Hip Range of Motion and Functional Assessment (identify your starting point)

  • Self-Myofascial Skills For The Hip and Pelvis

  • Dynamic Mobility Using Your Agility Jumps (can be done without jumps too)

  • Learn and Perform The Kneeling Hip Flexor Sequence, The Hip Adduction Sequence, and The Hip Joint Capsule Sequence

Week 2

  • Science and Anatomy of Hip Flexibility and Mobility

  • What are the nine flexibility factors for increasing hip mobility?

  • Learn the three methods of stretching that will produce the most gains in hip mobility.

  • What are Bioenergetics Exercises?

  • Add The Hip Adduction Sequence and The Hip Joint Capsule Sequence to your Kneeling Routine from Week 1 (continue with The Kneeling Hip Flexor Sequence).

  • Begin Basic Core Exercises: The 3 Phases of Pelvic Stability/Alignment

  • Self-Myofascial Skills For The Foot and Lower Leg

  • Begin Basic Foot Speed Replacement Exercises

Week 3

  • Why do we use banded exercises to increase hip mobility?

  • What are the two type of “Scouring” used to increase mobility?

  • Learn and Perform the Dynamic Warm Up For Hip Mobility

  • More Basic Core Exercises

  • Continue all three Kneeling Sequences

  • Learn and Perform The Standing Hamstring Sequence and The Standing Hip Adductor Sequence

  • Begin Intermediate Foot Speed Drills (Patterns and Hopping Sequences)

Week 4

  • Start Forming A Schedule And Program For Weeks Four through Six

  • Add The Standing Static Active Hip Flexion, The Standing Active Hip Abduction, and The Standing Static Active Hip Rotation to your Standing Sequence.

  • Why do we need to add strength exercises to maintain your new hip mobility?

  • What is the Joint by Joint Method of Training?

  • Continue Intermediate Foot Speed Drills

Week 5

  • What is the isolated verse integrated training continuum?

  • What is the rehab verse performance training continuum?

  • What hip mobility limitations do you need to stay focused on to improve your agility handling skills?

  • The six day per week hip mobility program put into action.

  • Building your foot speed and patterns to match your increased hip mobility for improving your agility crosses and changes of sides with your canine partners.

Week 6

  • Summary of the hip mobility program: implementing all of the pieces you’ve learned in the last five weeks so that you have a structured program moving forward.

  • Sample Strength Program to match the mobility program you’ve been working on for the last six weeks.

  • Individual help identifying any asymmetries and imbalances that you still need to address with future stretching and strengthening exercises that will help you with separating your upper body from your lower body to aid in change of direction skills on the agility course.






Please contact the instructor for more information. 

Prerequisites and Equipment


No previous Fenzi classes necessary.

Open Hips = Main Focus of Class

Participants must be able to lay on their yoga or other exercise mat (at a minimum). Students should also be able to perform kneeling, ½ kneeling and standing flexibility exercises to achieve maximum gains in hip range of motion over the duration of our six weeks of class. However, you will still make significant gains over a longer period of time if you either continue with at least part of the program or you had to move at a slower pace. Hip range of motion will improve for everybody in six weeks by performing this mobility program, despite your possible physical limitations. There is always a way to improve mobility and function (age and physical challenges withstanding).

Fast Feet = Minor Focus of Class

The fast feet exercises will involve improving your “foot speed” so that your foot placement will match your new found hip flexibility and range of motion. I will provide both impact (hopping and jumping) and non-impact (moving your feet into various positions without impact) exercises. Those participants with physical limitations will want to do the non-impact exercises.


Stretching Strap, Yoga Strap, Dog Leash, or a piece of rope (jump rope or other rope)

A Heavy Exercise Band, Piece of Exercise Tubing (with or without handles) or a Strong Piece of Theraband or Exercise Band that can be attached to a stable object or shut in a closed door.

A yoga mat or other exercise mat for the floor.

Stability Ball (not mandatory)

Self- Soft Tissue Mobilization Tools: foam roller (any size and type), tennis ball, lacrosse ball (or other hard ball), and a golf ball.

Six Practice Agility Jumps With Bars (optional equipment because I will also show you how to do this without the jumps and stationary)

Please contact the instructor for more information. 


Course Testimonials


Brand New Course February 2016


Please refer to the instructor bio page for sample testimonials from other courses she has taught.