How to Find and Join a Walking Club

Team of Walkers at Race
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Joining a walking club is a great way to enhance the pleasure of an activity you already enjoy and to meet others who share in your enthusiasm. There are many other reasons why you would want to join or start a group:

  • Ensuring safety, particularly for women and seniors
  • Sharing tips on walking techniques, shoes, gears, etc.
  • Organizing hikes and trips that you might not otherwise do on your own
  • Pushing yourself beyond your current limits

As with a gym partner, joining a walking club incentivizes you to persist on days that you might otherwise stay in bed. It prevents from skipping or cutting a walk short because no one is watching.

With that being said, not all walking clubs are the same. Here are some of the different types you can choose from:

Meetup Groups

Meetup.com is a popular website for people who want to join a group. It allows you to find walking clubs in your area and to see if you age, sex, and interests match. You can also start a club of your own, recruiting members, posting events, and joining in online chats.

Meetup also provides privacy filters so that identities and walking routes are only shared with approved members. Members can RSVP their attendance, the event of which will then be posted on their online calendar.

AVA/IVV Clubs

American Volkssport Association (AVA) and Internationaler Volkssportverband (IVV) are non-profit walking organizations that organize and host 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer non-competitive walking events.

Founded in 1976, the AVA boasts more than 250 chartered sports clubs nationwide. The individual chartered clubs schedule one- to two-day walks several times a year, usually over the weekend. They also offer established walking routes that members can walk all year round.

For its part, the IVV is the largest walking club organization in the world with thousands of member groups, including more than 500 in the United States and Canada.

Chartered AVA/IVV clubs range in size from less than a dozen to well over 500. You can find a club near you on the AVA club listing board or form your own club sanctioned by the AVA/IVV.

Racewalk Clubs

If you feel a need for speed, racewalk clubs can help you to learn proper technique and assist you in joining competitions.

Racewalkers are a different breed from recreational walkers. They adhere to strict rules in which walkers must maintain contact with the ground at all time. Moreover, the leading leg must be straight as it contacts the ground and remain straight until it passes beneath the body.

If you thrive on precision and want to improve your cardiovascular health, racewalking may be the sport for you. Racewalking is contested in all levels of track & field, from youth athletics right up to the Olympic Games. Typically held on roads or running tracks, competitions range from 3,000-meter (1.8-mile) "fun runs" to sanctioned 100-kilometer (62.1-mile) walking events

You can locate a racewalking club near you on Racewalk.com or start your own on Meetup.

Mall Walks

Urban dwellers will often organize mall walks, particularly in the winter. They provide an added layer safety while allowing you to window-shop or enjoy a post-exercise coffee with friends. Many of larger malls in the United States will organize indoor walking events, usually earlier in the day when the mall traffic is light. Check the mall community board online for events or speak with a mall administrator to organize one.

You can also check if a local running shoe store organizes or promotes walking events. Many do so as a means to advertise their wares to a highly incentivized audience.

Health and Fitness Groups

Medical centers and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are also good places to find local walking clubs. Many sponsor walking groups as part of a wellness campaign or actively promote walking clubs to their members. The American Heart Association is among the national organizations that can connect you to hosted walking events in your area.

There are even health insurers, like Oscar, who will pay you one dollar if you walk 10,000 steps in the course of the day (the steps of which can be tracked with devices like Fitbit or apps like Google Fit).

Gyms, fitness centers, and apartment complexes will often sponsor walking events for members. Check the community bulletin board for information or encourage management to organize an event.

Virtual Clubs

If you live in a remote area or can’t find a group near you, you can join a virtual walking club that provides members with the means to track and challenge each other. Fitbit and other tracking apps allow you to add friends to your group and invite others.

You can then set daily or weekly community goals and evaluate how you well you are doing compared to others in the group.

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