Karen King is a former teacher and education consultant who joined Walkfit at Finsbury Park when it first started up in 2009. So she was delighted when Walkfit classes resumed there in June this year and that Walkfit has expanded to more parks. Here’s her take on what makes Walkfit so good:
FUN AND FRIENDS
“The first session that I joined, it was just a laugh the whole time. I used to work then but now that I’ve retired and am enjoying my 60s I can get to more classes, particularly the morning ones which set me up for the day. Coming back to it this time reminded me how much fun we had and how much fun fitness could be. I’ve met new people and also seen old friends who used to do it so it’s just been a brilliant little reunion. We take different routes around the park. This week we were playing hockey. On Monday we did the Can- Can. You just don’t expect to be doing that! That fun side of things makes you forget you’re exercising even when you’re really tired.
Making new friends is one of the other aspects of Walkfit that I hadn’t thought about at all. It’s great that the social aspect continues after the session. We encourage each other to meet up again and the partner work means you can’t help but socialise with other people. Everybody is so relaxed and chatty. We call it Walkfit, Talkfit, Laughfit! We’re often too busy laughing to notice how hard we’re working. Men, women, younger, older, it suits everybody – people who are pregnant or post-pregnant, the BMF injured. Every week we meet new people. They’re from all different walks of life – all different ages and experiences, fit and unfit, but everybody is the same really.
Our Walkfit instructor Jel is just awesome. He’s able to differentiate between everybody who’s there and able to push you a bit further than you think you’re capable of by saying things like: ‘You only have to do this if you want to do it but I know you can.”
Sometimes we’ll hold an isometric pose like a squat while doing some kind of mental challenge so we forget that what we’re doing is really hard. If you’re having a bit of an off day, knowing that Jel’s going to be there is encouraging because he just makes it such good fun. He’s also knowledgeable and gives good advice to anyone who has, say, back problems or painful knees.
I’ve always liked walking a lot and I did a lot of cycling but I don’t like swimming and I found the gym boring and intimidating. So Walkfit seemed like something I could do. My key goal when I first joined was to be fitter and to gain more flexibility. I’ve never been a runner but I love being outdoors and I liked the idea of doing some gentle exercises to keep me moving. It absolutely ticked that box because my aim was to be able to touch my heels behind me onto my bum and before long I could do it.
FITBIT SAYS I’M FITTER
I use a FitBit which monitors my heart rate, pulse and the number of hours I sleep so I’ve been able to track my progress. I’ve noticed that my resting heart rate is already much lower – not that it’s ever been a concern. There has been a reduction gradually over the three weeks that I’ve been doing classes recently. That increased pace of movement and learning to stretch out my legs and take longer strides while keeping good posture to give me better form when I’m walking has just been brilliant.