In 1999, a small group of walkers embarked on the first Walk and Talk session at the National Sports Centre.
Some 225,000 miles later, with weekly attendances of more than 300 and now an Island-wide programme, a celebration is planned for Sunday 5 October to mark the 15th anniversary of Walk and Talk.
The concept behind Walk and Talk remains the same:
'an approach to exercise for those recovering from illness, or who need to gain fitness, that focuses on gentle progression, enjoyment and, most importantly, socialising,'
said Gianni Epifani, Senior Sports Development Officer with the Department of Education and Children.
Initially, the NSC athletics track hosted two weekly daytime sessions and in 2001 an evening session was introduced.
As demand increased, sessions commenced in Peel in 2004, followed by Ramsey in 2005 and Castletown in 2006. All routes are flat, with a circuit no longer than a mile, allowing walkers to build up their mileage, and fitness, gradually.
Sessions are supervised by two instructors and walkers are issued with cards allowing them to track their mileage.
‘There are numerous stories that highlight the positive impact Walk and Talk has had on participants’ health and wellbeing. Since 1999, more than 150 walkers have completed 1,000 miles, 30 have completed more than 2,000 miles and a small number have completed 3,000 and even 4,000 miles.
‘Although incentives are on offer when set milestones are reached, the emphasis remains on talking your way to improved health and fitness and forging new friendships.’
The cost of attending a Walk and Talk session remains the same as in 1999 – £1.50, which includes refreshments.
Manx Sport and Recreation, with the support of the Public Health Directorate of the Department of Health and Social Care, is hosting a one-off walk on 5 October covering a 3km route along Douglas’s promenades.
Walkers will set off from the War Memorial at 10am and head to the Summerland end of the promenade, returning to the start point.
‘I would love to see anyone who is currently attending Walk and Talk or has in the past and, of course, any new walkers would be made welcome.
‘Those who take part in the celebratory walk will receive a special Walk and Talk certificate and the walk can be used to raise money for a chosen charity.’
For more information about Walk and Talk, contact Gianni on +44 1624 688556 or email email@example.com