Monday, July 21, 2008

The Wonder Walkers

When it comes to keeping fit and healthy, women are leading the way; it’s often right out of the gym and onto the road, beach or hills. In so many places I go to, something new jumps out: women in ones and twos and in groups walking (and talking) their way to fitness. And no more so than in New Zealand. Here, one of the nation’s cultural heroes has been a fantastic instigator. She doesn’t just talk about the benefits of fitness, she takes action to encourage women to get started through an emerging movement called Wonder Walk.

Susan Devoy is a genuine New Zealand sports hero. She ranked as the world Number One women’s squash player every year from 1983 to her retirement at the end of 1992. Over those years she won the British Open Squash Championship eight times. Not a big surprise then that Susan has become a role model for women (and more than a few men) who want to have a positive active life. With her business partner Paula Thompson, Susan is putting into practice what I have long believed - there is no point in waiting around for governments to get started on the right things.

Susan and Paula, frustrated by the amount of money they saw being misdirected on government health programmes, decided to do something about it themselves. As they enjoyed their regular walks together, they used that personal experience as the inspiration for a simple and fun way for women to exercise and socialize at the same time. They knew that women have a huge influence on shifting cultural attitudes, so if we’re going to change, women are the smartest way to make it happen. The idea of the website was as a one stop shop for women and walking. It’s full of walking resources, events, tips, interviews and news, all supported by social networking opportunities online and in the real world. It’s good fun and easy to use. Check it out and start to walk the walk.