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Mall Walkers Hit Stride More Than Checkbooks Are Being Exercised At The Mall These Days

Navigating by foot across the Silver Lake Mall parking lot last Thursday morning involved the black-ice shuffle. Baby steps and frowns.

“If you do ever fall in the parking lot, this is going to help you,” explained personal trainer Steve Colwell to an estimated 60 members of the Silverlake Striders during a biweekly muscle toning and stretching class for mall-walkers.

“This is going to help you. It does give you more upper-body strength, so you can raise yourself. But let’s hope that never happens.”

Colwell leads a diverse group, ages 3-91, through a wide range of exercises.

Shoulders rotate forward, backward. Dyna-bands provide extra resistance to work biceps, triceps and the back. Weight shifts from side-toside and legs bend to develop quadriceps. The neck is relaxed, and hands, too.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said John Centa, 78. “I kind of pooh-poohed the thing originally. But I find you talk to your muscles.”

Centa looks over his Silverlake Striders Diary, a mileage log tallied by each of the 225 members of the mall-walking club that formed in October.

Centa walks for health and social benefits, averaging 2-3 miles, four-five times a week.

Three laps around the interior of the Silver Lake Mall equal 1 mile. In three months, the Striders walked 3,875 miles.

Danny Morton, 46, has used mall walking for physical therapy since Silver Lake opened six years ago.

Fifteen years ago, a sawmill accident crushed Morton’s skull, leaving him in a coma for nine months and unable to walk for two years. “The doctors said I’d be a vegetable,” Morton said. “I did pretty good for a vegetable.”

Morton had entered 78 miles in his Striders’ diary since October, plus attending the exercise class.

“My endurance is getting better, and the more I walk my balance is getting better, too,” Morton added. “(The doctors) have been real surprised.”

For 30 years, the U.S. government paid Connie Hermann to walk, as a postal carrier. The mall, however, provides the perfect escape from the elements for Hermann, 63.

“Since I retired, I have backed off and not walked very much,” she said. “I had heard about mall walking, then when the Striders program was announced, I thought, ‘Gee whiz, why not?’ I do enjoy the fact the mall opens up early.”

Now, Hermann is the Striders’ pacesetter. Last month, she totaled 200 miles. One week ago, she marked 300 miles.

“I pushed it today,” Hermann said. “I wanted that 300 so bad, that I walked 6 miles. Usually, it’s 3 or 4, but I wanted to hit that number. It’s just kind of a personal sense of accomplishment.”

Hermann is a fast walker, who attends exercise classes four times a week and walks five days a week.

“I am amazed at how many people go (to the mall) to walk, driving in terrible conditions to get there,” Hermann added. “These are people I see every morning. You say, ‘Howdy.’ It’s a nice human contact, too.”

And the price is right. It’s free.

Colwell, a North Idaho Fitness staffer, took the Striders’ wellness concept to Silver Lake Mall management last spring.

“Emphasis is the total fitness of a person, because walking is a great cardiovascular workout, but 65 percent of the muscles are above the waist,” Colwell, 62, said.

“Being a senior myself, I see the need in our community for this kind of a program. I thought it was a natural … trying to expand on something already going and working for people.”

But trial exercise classes attracted fewer than 10 people, and it wasn’t until last fall that the Striders got off the ground.

A monthly newsletter keeps Striders abreast of individual mileage accomplishments, upcoming mall activities, as well as health issues. They also gather, costumes optional, for monthly award parties, which feature a theme and informational speakers.

“It was a service, and we questioned should we really do it,” said Silver Lake Mall marketing director Cindy Stanley-Lee. “We decided let’s give it everything we’ve got and give it a chance. With malls, part of our work is community relations. What better way than to get involved than with improving health?”

Mall walking isn’t new to the region, but the Striders have the only active organized program at the time.

“Definitely, (mall walking is) increasing in popularity,” Colwell said. “My goal is not to end with mall walking as an end-all, be-all, but we need to see more involvement in the community with exercise goals and fitness.

“As nice of a crowd as we have here, there’s still thousands of those sedentary people.”

Staff writer ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TAKE A WALK Area malls that have opened their doors for those who want to walk for health and exercise: Silver Lake Mall (CdA) Phone: (208) 762-2112 Walking hours: 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Muscle toning and stretching class: 9:30 a.m. Monday; 8 a.m. Thursday

Palouse Empire Mall (Moscow) Phone: (208) 882-8893 Walking hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday Blood pressure checks: 8-10 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday, every other Saturday

Bonner Mall (Sandpoint) Phone: (208) 263-4272 Walking hours: 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

NorthTown Mall (Spokane) Phone: (509) 482-0178 Walking hours: 8-10 a.m. daily

University City (Spokane) Phone: (509) 927-0470 Walking hours: 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Franklin Park (Spokane) Phone: (509) 489-7532 Walking hours: 7-9:30 a.m. Monday-Friday; 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday

This sidebar appeared with the story: TAKE A WALK Area malls that have opened their doors for those who want to walk for health and exercise: Silver Lake Mall (CdA) Phone: (208) 762-2112 Walking hours: 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Muscle toning and stretching class: 9:30 a.m. Monday; 8 a.m. Thursday

Palouse Empire Mall (Moscow) Phone: (208) 882-8893 Walking hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday Blood pressure checks: 8-10 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday, every other Saturday

Bonner Mall (Sandpoint) Phone: (208) 263-4272 Walking hours: 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

NorthTown Mall (Spokane) Phone: (509) 482-0178 Walking hours: 8-10 a.m. daily

University City (Spokane) Phone: (509) 927-0470 Walking hours: 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Franklin Park (Spokane) Phone: (509) 489-7532 Walking hours: 7-9:30 a.m. Monday-Friday; 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday



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