On Saturday mornings at the Grossmont Center Food Court, you’ll find Daphne Miller and her bright smile, ready to welcome a group of friends in their athletic wear and laced-up sneakers. Armed with energizing music and cheerful encouragement, Daphne gets the group started with a warmup before they set out for their weekly walk at the shopping complex.
This lively group of older adults gathers weekly to participate in the Grossmont Mall Walkers program. Established more than three decades ago at the La Mesa mall — long before Zumba, CrossFit and kettlebell workouts became trendy — the program brings together individuals from all walks of life who seek cardiovascular exercise in a non-gym setting.
The free program, supported by the Senior Resource Center at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, not only promotes an active lifestyle, but also provides a social outlet for participants. According to Deborah Maddern, a participant in the walking program, the group is a great fit for her.
“I’m so glad I joined the group!” she says. “I recently celebrated turning 70, and I’ve been able to participate in this with ease, even after having surgery. I’m so glad I learned that this program was out there.”
With a walk and a smile
“Having this program essentially in our own backyard is fantastic,” says Dan McNamara, program coordinator at Sharp Grossmont’s Senior Resource Center. “Participants look forward to this every week.”
Daphne, who radiates positivity and has a degree in gerontology, says that the walkers inspire her. “This is very beneficial for their health — and it’s free,” she says. “The more you do for people, the more they feel connected.”
An avid member of the fitness classes for over seven years, Barbara Wallbank appreciates that anyone can participate in Daphne’s classes, no matter their skill level. “Even though I could be sleeping in late on a Saturday, I wake up early to come to her class because I enjoy the energy,” she says.
The Grossmont Mall Walkers meet every Saturday at 9 am in the food court at Grossmont Center in La Mesa. New walkers are always welcome.