Members of the Long Island Walking Club gathered on a brisk morning on Saturday in to participate in their weekly group walk. About 15 people were bundled up, ready to get their day started with some exercise.
"We walk every Saturday morning in Eisenhower Park at Field Two between the tennis courts and the children's playground," LIWC President Terry Blyth said. "We meet at 8 a.m. every week, regardless, rain or shine throughout the whole year. We have about 35 or 40 members, but turnout varies. Sometimes you have a large group, sometimes a smaller group, it depends. Today is colder and we actually have a good size group."
Founded in 1979 by Jake Jacobson, who coached several Olympic race walkers, the club promotes "walking as an activity with both fitness and health benefits." They have three different types of walking, including social, health and race walking. Each caters to an individual's specific physical capabilities, capacity and needs since the club has a variety of levels of walkers.
"I enjoy being outside and walking because it is easier on my knees," said Joel Bernstein, Treasurer of the LIWC and a Merrick resident. "You meet good people here."
Violet and Theodore Tomlinson of Baldwin explained that they joined the club for health reasons and as something to do when they retired. "We have been here for a very long time and it is really wonderful," she said.
"Walking is good for our different defects," he said. "We have made a lot of good friends."
The club also acts as a social outlet for members, as many talk and catch up as they are completing the three-mile course. Some members see this as a way to socialize while enjoying the benefits of walking consistently. They also have two planned events every year-- a holiday party and an annual picnic. All participants are also invited to go to the after the Saturday morning walk each week. "It's like a social group," Blyth said.
"I've been in the club for nine years. It is great because it is a good bunch of people," LIWC Vice President and East Meadow resident Bruce Serkes said. "We walk, have some exercise and then head over to the diner and have some breakfast together."
Geared toward the needs and wants of the members, the club also offers stretching sessions before and after the walk. "We have a lot of theories on stretching," Blyth explained. "Light stretching is recommended before you start walking regardless of the temperatures and then deeper stretching after the walk."
The LIWC also participates in races, including the Long Island Marathon and hopefully a charity event in the coming year, where members can choose to walk as a group. Blyth emphasized that the club is not just for race walking, but rather all levels and ages.
Anyone interest in joining the LIWC can visit there website here. Fees for new individuals are $25 for the first year, couples $35. Membership renewals are $15 for individual and $20 for couples. There is an additional $10 fee for anyone who wishes to remain on the mailing list for the social events but currently resides out of state.