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'Walk It Off' a social way to stay fit

Posted: March 5, 2009 9:44 p.m.
Updated: March 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Chris Morley, owner of Walk It Off, left, signs up Linda Abrams of Valencia.

 
Need to lose weight? Get fit? Stay social? Reduce your anxiety? Chris Morley has a one-stop solution for you — walk it off!  

The certified personal trainer and entrepreneur launched her “Walk It Off” walking program with a special offer from program sponsor Valencia’s Whole Foods Market, where Morley was actively signing up customers on Feb. 28. Each new client received a $20 Whole Foods gift card, free pedometer and tote bag.

“People are giving up the gym memberships and personal trainers right now, they’re so stressed about their financial situation. But now more than ever, people need to get out with other people, and I’ve made it so dirt cheap, they can’t say no,” Morley said.

For $25 per person or $50 for families of three to five per month, clients have the opportunity to attend up to 10 classes each week, including Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9 a.m. or 7 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays at 9 a.m.; and Saturday at 8 a.m. or 10 a.m.

Each walking group will start off at Whole Foods and proceed through an ever-changing maze of local paseos, neighborhoods and walkways.

“I like to mix things up and love it when walkers ask, ‘Where are we going today?’” Morley said. “You’re outside, meeting other people. It’s not like the gym or the monotony of a treadmill.”

Morley structured her program for every level of walker. “Walk It Off” classes include “Just Starting” for beginners with 30 to 60 minutes of comfortably placed walks, “Good to Go,” a 45-minute walk with some hills for people in decent shape without any injuries or join problems,  and “Bring It On,” a 60-minute power walk with hills for those in good cardiovascular condition.

Walking falls in line with the Surgeon General’s recommendations of 30 minutes or more of accumulated moderate intensity physical activity five or more days per week to improve health and fitness. Studies have shown that consistent walking can reduce stress, high cholesterol and high blood pressures.

It’s also an activity wholeheartedly embraced by sponsor Whole Foods, according to Valencia marketing manager Tina Landrum.

“The big message we have is living sustainably, which includes not only what you eat, but how you move your body and enjoy the place and community where you live. This walking group is all about being fit in all areas of your life. It’s a perfect marriage of Chris’s passion and our commitment to health,” Landrum said.

Walkers sign up at Whole Foods before class and start the walk from there. Prizes from sponsors such as Whole Foods will be raffled off monthly and quarterly, with walkers accumulating tickets for each class they attend.

Morley encourages walkers to dress in weather-appropriate layered clothing, wear running shoes (they’re lighter than walking shoes, Morley said), and bring that ubiquitous exercise accessory, a water bottle. “We warm up quickly, after about a half-mile. I always bring my walkers home sweaty,” Morley said with pride.

A fit, trim blonde with a contagious smile, Morley estimated she had signed up 10 new clients halfway through Saturday’s launch.

She eventually hopes to take “Walk It Off” statewide, as a California recognized program endorsed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.

“Walking is the perfect exercise. Everyone can do it, from a 1-year old to seniors,” Morley said. “It’s cheaper than Starbucks — and you lose weight!”

For more information on “Walk It Off,” call Chris Morley at (661) 313-4774 or e-mail at chriscmorley@aol.com.

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