Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Start your own walking group

Everyone who's joined us for the South Tabor Walking Group so far has been super jazzed and super appreciative I started it. I really had to laughed when someone said he was going to write me in for mayor of Portland, because I obviously can "get things done!"

An impromptu hooping break on a group walk. 
The response does make me feel all warm and fuzzy, but honestly, it ain't no big thing. I just picked a day and time, emailed everyone I knew, really hammered it home to people I know in the area, put it on my Facebook page and the neighborhood association page, plus I got it listed in the Southeast Examiner. . . and low and behold, folks showed up! (The group varies weekly, but I think if everyone showed up the same week, there'd be about 30 different faces. Pretty cool!)

A walking club is a safe way to get fit, socialize and connect with your neighbors, hold each other accountable, plus the friendships you may make can be a real motivator to show up each walk! And if I can start one, you can too!

Here are some tips on how to start your own walking group.

  • Recruit your group  Will it be a neighborhood activity? How about family and friends getting together for an after work social hour? Will your employer sponsor a pedometer-walk competition among co-workers
  • Pick your day(s) and time(s)  I picked the day and time and ran with it, because I had no idea of who would participate. If there is a leader, he/she may have to ultimately make the final decision, or you could have a few days and times to choose from.
  • Spread the word! This could be a simple as just telling your friends and family to putting an announcement in the local paper. Announce it on Facebook, Tweet it and of course email it to everyone you know. When you share info with people, stress to them to share it with their friends, and so on. I posted two signs in the area with info about our walks. One in front of my house, and one at our meeting spot on SE Woodward and SE 66th which is a main through fair so lots of people see it. (A fellow walker let me put it in his yard.)
  • Set up some guidelines. Decide whether to walk indoors or out, distance covered, walking pace, where to meet, what constitutes bad weather and what to do about it, and routes are some of the main topics to cover when you start your group. Our group meets at the same location each week, and we walk for an hour. If the group goes a faster clip, we cover more ground, if there are slower walkers, the quicker ones move ahead and back track, but no one gets left behind. Our routes vary weekly. Sometimes we head to a specific location, sometimes we walk past each other's houses so we are more aware of our neighborhood. 
  • Look online for other groups already formed. Meet up has thousands of groups around the country. You can start your group there too, but there is a fee to post. Check out the community section of good ol' Craigslist, that great big online community bulletin board. Or just google walking group and see what pops up in your area.
  • Inspiration for walks in Portland. I love Laura O. Foster's books. She wrote Portland Hills Walks, Portland City Walks, and the newest one is Portland Stairs Book.  We use them all the time when we want to get out of our usual walking routines and see something new in town. 

Well, that's it in a nut shell. It may take time to get the group going, but consistency is the name of the game. IIf you have a group, or want to start one, let me know the details and I can share it here too.

Happy walking,
Kristin

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