What I’m learning from starting a Walking Group

In case you weren’t aware, I started a walking group while I was off WordPress for a month last November. To recap just a bit, I used Meetup.com and started scheduling two walks a weeks. It’s not virtual, we meet in person to walk. Tuesdays are slower 1 to 1.5 mile walks and Thursdays are 3 to 4 miles at a faster to moderate pace.

The Universe will almost always change up your plans and surprise you

Slow Pace Walkers. Like I said in my earlier post, I never intended the Tuesday walk to morph into a slow pace walk. In my head, I imagined taking off for a good pace walk during lunch for an hour with like minded folks with some younger and older who work from home like me. What I’ve ended up with is even better and more rewarding. There’s about 6 in this group with four over 70 and the other two in their 50s. I should point out our elevation here is 8,500 ft. I’ve got two Vietnam vets one that uses a cane and the other has a walker with wheels. The ladies sometimes walk with arm to arm like the wizard of oz on the yellow brick road or other times are scattered picking up trash along the road. So to say the least we are an interesting sight truckin down the road. “C” is a huge inspiration. He’s an ex-marine and when I first met him he got out of his big truck standing over 6′ 1′ and reached into the cab to pull out a yellow road guard vest and then the walker. I’m sure my jaw dropped. I’m thinking in my head how is this going to work? I asked him if going a mile was going to be okay and he said I don’t know lets give it a go. He did great! He goes right along up hills over snow and ice and never complains. The ladies often pick up trash, so sometimes we stop to take a break and he has a seat that plops down from the walker and he rests. Taking this group down the road is like herding cats. Occasionally we walk in 2 columns…occasionally. I love it because I get to rotate between each member and chat and get to know them better.

I had to cancel one walk due to snow and and ice and they weren’t too happy. The next week we had high winds, but there was no way I was going to cancel 2 weeks in a row or they’d revolt! We definitely bonded conquering the wind on the way back and everyone was giving each other high fives when we finished. You need to have adventures in your life so you end up with good stories!

Moderate/Faster Pace Walkers. Since Tuesdays morphed into a slower pace, I picked Thursdays to be a faster pace and longer distances. I have my first Saturday walk tomorrow, because many folks work during the week and can’t make 4pm on Thursday. Once we start getting more daylight, I’ll schedule some after dinner.

So my first Thursday walk. Again in my head, I’m thinking this may be a younger group, since we’re going faster and longer. I know .. I know… I’m still learning and learning I did. 4 PM came and nobody showed. We meet at a health store about 4 houses down from my house. I was use to nobody showing when I first started scheduling walks so no big deal. I slowly walked home and kept turning around and nobody was showing up. A ways down the road I did see an individual walking, but didn’t think to much about it. I got in my house and peaked out my window. It was an older woman leaning forward with her hands behind her back walking toward the direction of the health store. I’m like hmmm. I stepped outside and looked around the corner and sure enough she walked into the parking lot of the store. I headed up and that’s where I met “S”. Once we introduced ourselves, I asked her if going 3 miles works for her. She said No Problem and bamm we were off … and I mean off! I discovered during that walk she’s 80 yrs old and walks 7 miles a frickin day. Yep, 7 miles a day. I got home and told my son Bob this 80 yr old about kicked my ass and I was sweating. HA! More stories to come about “S” in a future post. Needless to say she’s a firecracker!!!

Participation. There will be days nobody shows up. There will be days folks say they’ll be there and still not show. Keep the faith friends. Look up at the sky, smile to the Universe, and go walk anyway. Oh, but first stop back at home and get your headphones so you can jam some Abba!

How I get the word out about my group and how that’s working out

I live in Woodland Park, CO and the population is approx. 8,000. I advertise by letting folks know about our group by using NextDoor.com, Facebook local groups, and our MeetingUp.com site. I just post little posts like come on out and learn about our walking group … I believe I’ve had the most success with NextDoor. I’m still struggling a bit trying to find the avenue to attract some folks in their 30s and 40s. As people respond with questions, I always add them to my about page faq. People have many questions. Even if you think you completely spelled EVERYTHING out …they’ll have a question. One person I think I’ve written back to twice now, because she forgot she already asked me for more information. Not matter how many times I respond to her I think her and her husband will sit on the fence. In my head I’m like my god this is just a walk. Just take a chance and give it a shot. I’m not going to be heartbroken if you never come back again. Another guy kept asking questions and once I thought I had answered them all he writes back give me a call. Again OMG. Again, I’m learning. I call him and listened to him for 15 minutes talking about how he needs to get in shape. I gave him the best encouragement I could, but still haven’t seen him yet. Many folks just want to “talk” about taking action.

As many of you already know, once you post something on a social media site you are opening the lovely door of public comments. Good. Bad. And Interesting. One person got mad because as she said, “I was literally two minutes late and you were already gone!” Yep. I told her I’m sorry she missed us and we leave promply at the assigned time (yes I was in the Army). I wanted to say as John Prine sings – That’s the way the World goes Round.

I also made up some business cards that I give to the members to pass out to help get the word out on the group. The local newspaper does have an activity section for free and at some point I may advertise there. Maybe in the spring when things warm up and more folks will want to get outside again.

Technical aspects to consider

Wow, this is getting a bit long isn’t it? I’ll try to wrap this up. So originally I finally decided to just use Meetup.com (https://www.meetup.com/WoodlandParkWalkers/) as my site. Well after a month or so I did go back to also having a WordPress site (https://wpgowalk.com). It came down to branding. Now I’m not a marketing person by any means but when you go with a meetup group or Facebook group you can be limited on the appearance of your site. There’s a set playground you need to play in. WordPress is a bit more open allowing you to add pages and menus and use many different templates. Also the website address came into play. https://www.meetup.com/WoodlandParkWalkers/ vs https://wpgowalk.com. I own wpgowalk.com. I wanted to have more control over “my site”. This was something I was building up and putting in a lot of time and promoting. Meetup didn’t allow my domain to appear in the url address when using their site. WordPress as you know does. Also, I heard even as hard as it is to have your very own platform when you first start off – do it. Who knows right, maybe one day Meetup gets sold and changes it all up and I no longer want a presence over there. Also, the whole searching algorithm thing works better with your own domain.

Overall

So again I couldn’t be happier. I’m stretching myself as an introvert, learning, and receiving much love in return. I almost feel selfish, but after each walk I hear folks say thanks for setting this up. I’ll leave you with these and will report back after a bit to give you some updates and oh yah …more on firecracker “S”.

I plan on being there. Hope others will join us on Tuesday. It is really fun.

I went on today’s walk and really enjoyed myself. A little cardio and good conversation. Most would be able to do this walk. I used my walker and did just fine. I hope to see some new faces next week.

From “C”

For all of you “I really should get out and walk more”ers, join us on Tuesday mornings for a non-strenuous walk through neighborhoods at a pace that’s comfortable. Fresh air, new friends, conversation…it’s all good.

..

Was good to welcome you last Tuesday, C. The walks are very enjoyable and the company very welcoming. See you next week…

From “SF”

I highly encourage everyone to use that one thing that lights you up and go share it with others. You will be surprised that many others have the same passion. Don’t worry about getting it all setup perfect before you start. Just get enough setup and go for it. The Universe will take over after that. We have more in common and more goodness then the news ever reports.

Much Love,

Dwight 🦋


Abba: Dancing Queen just in case you were bored to death from this blog and want to at least get a dance out of it. Ha!

15 responses to “What I’m learning from starting a Walking Group”

  1. I love it! The old timers suiting up and showing up for life 💜❤️💜 so good! I love that you shared some of them pick up trash too – shows their reverence for life 🌈great adventures Dwight and many more to come!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. So wonderful, Dwight! For you and everyone!! Thank you for giving the details of how your walking group came to be. As someone who gets lost and overwhelmed in getting from A to D, I need very specific instructions….. it’s the main reason I am challenged to bring to fruition any idea or project that comes into my mind. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good for you for sticking with this, Dwight, and for everybody who is participating. It sounds as though people are really enjoying the combination of exercise and socializing. I hope the logistics won’t get too complicated for you!
    Happy walking,
    Tanja

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is awesome Dwight! It sounds like such a good time! You cracked me up when you said your Tuesday walking group is an interesting sight trucking down the road! I can so see Tuesday walkers revolting if you cancelled twice in a row! 🤣 However, for many years now I spend time with that age group and I bet they look forward to this so much! I love how you are broadening yourself yet really making others happy! “C” sounds like an inspiration!
    I loved reading about “S.” I can just picture her taking off and you being like “Oh wow she means business.” 😂
    Anyway I think this is freakin’ awesome! Hopefully you won’t get too many people that really just want to talk about walking but never follow through.
    Can’t wait to read more updates!! 😃

    Liked by 2 people

  5. wow..i finally got around to reading this…i have been kind of absent on here for a few weeks. This is great!I love the way you wrote everything out like this too because, as you know, i am a stickler for organization and covering as many bases as possible. This actually gave me a few ideas because i have been considering starting a “meet up” group for a few years now.Not really sure where to start, i dont really walk like i was a year or so ago ( i was wanting to do a through hike then realized my awful bunions would nix that idea unless i had surgery, recover for 3-4 months and start training all over!) But occasionally i look on Meet up just to see whats out there. Atm i am pretty wrapped up with weightlifting and generally prefer to do that with my coach or solo. But, maybe some kind of art group. So happy yours is a success. Great job!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is the funniest thing I’ve read for a while. Laughed so much about the ladies going down the yellow brick road, and also the OMG to the people with questions about a frickin walk for crying out loud. Hooo I hurt my gut laughing at that and had to lie down a little bit to recover. Humans! They’re so like that!

    Liked by 1 person

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