Group born of wellness vows

On top of the world . . . Lisa Wellness Journey founder Lisa Silva on a walk on the Pineapple Track. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A Dunedin woman’s aim to improve her health and fitness has inspired others to do the same.

When Lisa Silva decided to ditch sugar and start walking regularly, she started a Facebook page to ensure she stuck to her plan.

Seven months later, she has a group of 28 people who join her walks intermittently and more than 280 likes on her Facebook page, Lisa’s Wellness Journey.

Mrs Silva said she loved the outdoors and wanted to do more walks around Dunedin.

She organises a walk on a different track each Saturday. They vary in length and difficulty and there have been 29 walks so far.

“It’s the highlight of my week,” she said.

The group walks at a pace that is suitable for everyone or splits into two – one for faster walkers and one for slower walkers.

Joining a fitness group was often “intimidating” so she wanted to create one that was friendly and open to everyone of all ages and abilities.

“Some of the people who have been with us for a while have changed the way they see themselves.

“They now see themselves as outdoors people, whereas before they wouldn’t.”

The group’s most accomplished young walker is Brooke Robertson (9), who walks with her mother, Michelle Watts.

They have walked more than 134km each and Ms Watts was named most improved walker for her increased fitness at the group’s award ceremony.

Mrs Silva said she planned to hold the ceremonies every six months to celebrate walkers in the group. She kept track of the distances they walked and once they had completed 10 walks, she gave them a badge.

“It just makes you feel good to have a symbol of achievement.”

Sport Otago had recently given the group a “really good” first aid kit.

Walker Angela Neugebauer has joined the group for 17 walks (84km) with her dog, Jenny.

“The group is a safe space for overweight or unfit people to build up fitness, while getting outdoors and making new friends,” she said.