I signed up to my first Walk Active course in the Autumn of 2010. I was 56, living in London and exhausted from years of a high pressure and time intensive working life, plus all the paraphernalia of my domestic world – teenagers at one end and elderly parents at the other.
I was unfit, overweight and was living in a mild but continuously depressed state of mind. To the outside world I ‘looked’ fine, fulfilling my professional and domestic roles effectively but, inside, I knew I was short changing myself and failing to prioritise the person who needed nurturing the most – me! I can’t tell you how much money I’ve wasted on gym membership over the years, and I have yet to find a ’sport’ that floats my boat.

Well, after that first 8 session course,  I ended up doing 4 or 5 more courses over the following six months, starting another pretty much as I ended the previous one. By Summer, 2011, I felt full of energy and I was in a much happier place mentally. I had also lost more than a stone in weight and my self-esteem rose as my tummy shrank.

I loved the energy I got from Walk Active, for example, I LOVED running UP the escalator at Tottenham Court Road tube on my way to and from our sessions, easily passing all those people who seemed to have the same exhausted look about them that I had sported for so many years.

The transformation in both my mental and physical health was truly wonderful. WalkActive sessions can be challenging yet i found them personalised to each individual, and the aim was always to improve on one’s own walking performance, rather than to compare oneself with others in the group.

The programmes were mentally challenging as well and I had to work hard to remember and put into practice all I was learning about the best use of (my feet, my hips, my pelvis, my shoulders and my arms,) posture and pace for effective and beneficial walking. On many occasions I had to go back to starting with the feet and building up to the head and shoulders, as I learnt to master the WalkActive technique. My pro-preprioception is generally poor but, through WalkActive, I learned to know what each bit of my body was doing which felt like a miracle to me!

As Joanna advised, focus on the WalkActive technique and speed and efficiency will come, as indeed they did. I walked everywhere that winter, come rain and shine, from Bloomsbury to Paddington Station or to Westminster (both frequent journeys for me) around Regents Park and Hyde Park, focussing on my ever improving technique.

Move on eight years, a change of job and a move out of London to the countryside, all the while walking with my WA technique, although much less frequently than before, as work and everyday life yet again took precedence.

But….. hooray! I found Joanna again teaching Walk Active courses near to where I now live. I was so happy to pick up the courses again – it’s been 2 years now and has comprised a mix of face to face training and support, plus accessing the excellent online training videos and guidance, especially in recent months.

That extra stone that was sitting round my middle in the intervening years has come off again, I feel bright and energetic and, now I’ve finally retired, I can put into practice my WalkActive training on an almost daily basis. My husband is disabled and we volunteer with the Disabled Ramblers Charity, joining their many national and local rambles, Mark on his trusty all terrain scooter and me, setting a fiesty pace with my WalkActive technique!

I am now a pretty experienced ‘WalkActivist’ so I now automatically access the technique on our daily walks, and the mental and physical benefits that go with it continue to give back!