Chennai

Walking group bring residents together for a challenge

The end of her sari pallu tucked in, and her feet encased in proper running shoes, 73-year-old Kalyani Muralidhran is a picture of inspiration, as she goes about her fitness routine — 100 skips with a jump rope every morning; and at 4.30 p.m., a four-km brisk-walking around the apartment complex in Mandaveli, together with seven other seniors.

Two residents of Ragamalika Apartments have started Raga Walkers, a walking club that operates only on the premises. Confined to their homes, members of the group, particularly the seniors among them, are reaping the benefits of this move.

Members of the group keep strides with each other through a WhatsApp group.

When neighbours Sumana Priya and Hetal Somasundaram were discussing how to maintain a level of positivity through these difficult times, they hit upon this idea.

Sumana Priya and Hetal Somasundaram

Sumana Priya and Hetal Somasundaram  

“We have family members and individuals walking/ running on their own but there was nothing to motivate many of us to keep a routine going or achieve new fitness goals, so we thought of bringing residents from the community together,” says Sumana.

Raga Walkers is still in its nascency, only 25-members-strong. As a group for a 200-unit apartment community, it can certainly do better, they think.

Sumana points out that the group offers its members new heights to scale, regularly.

They started with a five-km-day challenge, which walkers can attempt at their own pace and convenience. Each walker’s output is shared and discussed in the group and also tabulated in an Excel sheet at the end of the week.

Besides walking and fitness challenges, the group has initiated other activities including meditation and a suryanamaskar challenge.

The group’s achievements is shared with non-members of Raga Walkers. The idea is to nudge more people into joining the group, Sumana and Hetal point out.

“There are no winners or losers in these challenges but we present what we have achieved as a group,” says Sumana.

Sometimes, members take a break due to their commitments at work. In that scenario, the two point out, they see it as their responsibility to make sure the person makes it to the walk that day.

As Kalyani, a retired principal of a private school, puts it, even if she is five minutes late, she would receive a call from her group.

“I enjoyed walking but I did not find the time. Now that I am forced to stay indoors, I make time for this fitness activity and when you are walking with a group it gives you oodles of energy,” says Kalyani.

Raga Walkers plans to have at least 50 per cent of the apartment community join the group over the next six months. Says Hetal, “When the COVID-19 situation improves in Chennai, we would organise meet-ups in the beach.”

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 5:20:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/walking-group-bring-residents-together-for-a-challenge/article34290576.ece

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