Unlike weightlifting, running, and other high-intensity forms of fitness, walking is an effective form of low-impact exercise that practically anyone can do. No special equipment or training is needed to enjoy a brisk walk. In fact, all that is needed is a good pair of shoes.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a large city, then there will most likely be a number of established walking clubs and groups nearby that are always happy to welcome a new member. However, in many situations there are no walking groups nearby. If this is the case, perhaps you should consider forming your own walking group.
The simple act of walking already poses a number of health benefits, but walking in a group ushers in a whole new range of advantages including increased accountability, companionship, safety in numbers, motivation. Furthermore, walking with others incorporates an element of socialization reduces boredom and promotes new friendships.
It doesn’t take much to establish a walking club. The three basic elements of any successful walking group are members, structure, and activities as outlined below:
To be a group, a walking club needs to have two or more members. However, attracting new members to your group can be fairly difficult. The best place to start is with your own friends and/or family members. From there you can begin recruiting other members.
Advertising is one of the most effective recruitment tools as your disposal. Flyers, brochures, business cards, and promotional products can be used to promote the new group. Quality Logo Products, Inc. is a good resource for customizable promotional items and branding tools. Just think about locations in your local area that may be frequented by other walkers (schools, churches, gyms, hospitals, parks, etc.)
Aside from physical advertising, you can also promote your walking group online. Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter have proven to be highly effective social media marketing tools. Classified sites such as Craigslist can also be used too.
Once you have recruited an adequate amount of members into your walking club, the next step is to organize and structure the group. Before actually embarking on the first group walk, set up a “meet-and-greet” of sorts, allowing every member to get acquainted with one another. This meeting is also a good opportunity to collect contact information such as email addresses, emergency contacts, phone numbers, and any other pertinent details.
You will also need to establish how your walking group will operate. This includes determining when and where to walk, how far to walk, and so on and so forth. This is also a good time to figure out what to do on days where the weather does not permit walking outdoors. Remember to welcome and consider any feedback offered by group members.
The size of your walking group can also play a big role in how the group is structured. For instance, if your group is fairly small in size, then walking together as one group may be optimal. However, as the group grows in size, the fitness levels and goals of each individual member may vary wildly. In that case, breaking the group down into smaller subgroups may be more favorable.
Now that your walking group is established, it is up to you to keep the momentum going. In other words, keep your group members motivated by incorporating various activities into the group. These activities can include:
- Weekly meetings
- Attending charity events
- Contests and giveaways
- Individual and group goals
- Group apparel
By keeping every member of your walking group encouraged and motivated, you can improve long-term retention rates, as well as the ultimate success of your group.