Healthy Living: Exercise group gets Claremonters walking

Commenting on the benefits of a good stroll, the English historian G.M. Treveylan said, “I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.”

The members of the Get Walking Claremont group, who join together each week to get fit in a social setting, agree. Residents, most of them 50 and older, meet in parking lot of Rhino Records (235 Yale Ave. in Claremont) on Tuesday mornings at 8 a.m. From there, they walk through the Village to the Claremont Colleges and back.

After the hour-long jaunt, some of the walkers continue on to the Village Plaza Public Square, where they enjoy a cup of java from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Le Pain Quotidien. It’s an invigorating way to start the day.

On Thursdays, the group convenes in the parking lot of the Thompson Creek Trail (2471 N. Indian Hill Blvd.) for a trek through the local wilderness paths. The walkers also occasionally veer from their usual path, gathering instead for a special event like a potluck.

The Sunday pétanque games that have been held from 1 to 4 p.m. at June Vail Park since the start of the year also fall under the auspices of the Health & Fitness Committee.

There is no cost to join the Get Walking group, which is advertised via the Senior Clicks email newsletter and the city’s Recreation & Activities Guide, and walkers of all levels are welcome.

“Some of us make sure we’re at the back of the line so, if we get someone new who maybe hasn’t walked as much, we don’t leave them in the dust. We always have a caboose,” Barbara Mowbray, vice chair of the Committee on Aging and a member of the Health and Fitness Committee, said.

“Some people have been doing it for three years and other people have been doing it for three days,” said Mike Eschleman who, along with Lynne Matute, is co-chair of Claremont’s Committee on Aging.

Andrea Gordon is one of the members with a three-year tenure. A retired optometrist, she began hoofing it with Get Walking after she moved to Claremont from the San Fernando Valley. “It has kept me exercised and I’ve met a lot of people,” she said.

Mr. Eschleman launched the Get Walking group in January of 2011 with the help of the late Gary Troyer, a longtime Pomona-Pitzer swimming coach. One of the things Mr. Eschleman enjoys about the Get Walking forays is “you get to see things that you wouldn’t see if you just drove by the Village.”

Most days, 20 or more people show up for the walks. At the start of the year, when New Year’s resolutions are in full effect, as many as 34 people have showed up, according to Ms. Mowbray.

The group’s extensive membership caught the attention of Claremont Councilmember Larry Schroeder, Ms. Mowbray noted. Larry said, “If you keep doing this, you’re going to need a parade permit.’”

Ms. Mowbray is “kind of a workout person.” She exercises at the Claremont Club along with gathering with her Get Walking Claremont friends. The group is definitely onto something because, according to the American Heart Association, walking is the exercise routine with “the lowest dropout rate of them all.”

The AHA website says walking or engaging in moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day has many benefits, including: a reduced risk of heart disease; improved blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels; a reduced risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer and type 2 diabetes; a lower risk of obesity and enhanced mental well-being.

Another thing Ms. Mowbray likes about the Get Walking Claremont excursions is they give her a chance to immerse herself in a city she loves, one she wasn’t able to explore as much before retiring after 45 years as an RN. “When I was working, people kept saying, where are you going to go after you retire?” the longtime Claremonter shared. “I said home. Why would I want to leave?”

The walkers vary their route a bit to change things up. On Tuesday, March 24, the group walked past the regal Bridges Auditorium, the drought-tolerant landscaping of Pitzer College and the futuristic “floating water” feature in front of Claremont McKenna College’s Kravis Center. The mini-parade route continued up 12th Street, left on College Avenue and right on Bonita, concluding where the group started.

It is this kind of scenery that prompts Ms. Mowbray to put on her sneakers morning after morning. “Just look ahead of you, and then look over there,” she said, indicating a rolling lawn leading toward Pomona College’s column-propped Carnegie Hall.

There were four first-time walkers on Tuesday, five if you count the canine contingent. Get Walking regular Rocky Harvey brought her springer spaniel Mercedes along on the walk.

One of the newbies was Steve Sarnicola, 59, who just three weeks ago retired from his position as a US Marshall with the Pasadena 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Having so much time on his hands is such a new experience that Mr. Sarnicola joked, “I’m still not sure what’s happening.”

He has been to the library a few times and, with his wife urging him to get a hobby, he decided to try out the walking club. Only time will tell if Mr. Sarnicola will decide to stick with it, earning the free orange T-shirt that sets the group members apart from your usual pedestrians.

Ms. Matute wears her shirt with pride.

“I love the camaraderie, and I like the fact that I get out and walk,” she said. “It’s a little harder to motivate yourself when you’re on your own. It’s really a fun group.”

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—Sarah Torribio


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