Keep on Walking

I get the impression that walking is a solitary pursuit. I base this on experience. Most mornings, I take my dog, Remy (a rambunctious border collie that possesses a persistent energy I wish I had), to a park a few miles from my home. During these early excursions, I see many people who have made walking a part of their daily routine. And most of them walk alone.

I don't blame them. The peacefulness if the park creates an atmosphere suitable for both exercise and personal reflection. In fact, in the upcoming weeks I expect the number of solo walkers to increase. The crisp fall air combined with the rustic splendor of the changing leaves should entice more people to lace up their walking shoes.

Unfortunately, the autumnal air won't last forever. By the time the bitter chill of winter arrives, most of the colorful leaves will have disappeared - and, with them, most of the walkers, I suspect.

The few walkers who come to the park in groups will have companions to keep them going despite the cold weather. But the solo walkers won't have that type of support. I have a feeling many of them will put their sneakers in the closet. And therein lies the opportunity.

In August, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that three hours of brisk walking per week (or 90 minutes of more vigorous activity) could reduce the risk of heart disease in women. The media picked up on the story, and the benefits of walking were publicly extolled again. Now the study is old news, and winter is coming. The walkers in my neighborhood - and possibly in yours - will soon be heading indoors. Where else can they go?

How about your club?

This is the perfect time to use the walking study in your marketing materials. Remind walkers of the benefits of their chosen activity. Why should they retreat for the winter when you have treadmills and other equipment they can use? You can even put a class together for them that goes outside on days when the temperatures are reasonable.

Once you sign the walkers up, get ready to retain before spring approaches. Ultimately, you may lose a few to the warmer weather, but, in the meantime, you'll have months to drive home the importance of getting the kind of complete workout that only a club can provide. After all, a walk in the park may calm the mind and work the heart, but it won't strengthen the upper body. And stronger muscles can come in handy during a park walk - especially if you are trying to control a hyperactive border collie that likes to chase squirrel. Believe me, I know.

Best regards,

Jerry Janda