By Aurelio Sanchez / Journal Staff Writer
There were old friends and new friends, couch potatoes and fit people, a few people with dogs, older people and not many young men and women, and they were all wearing cool, little pedometers.
“I think it’s neat there are so many different people here, and the thing we all have in common is that we want to get in shape, we all want to be healthy,” Carol Williams of Albuquerque said.
About 200 health seekers helped kick off the city of Albuquerque’s “Step it Up!” fitness campaign Saturday morning at Balloon Fiesta Park. They walked about a mile and a half around the fiesta field track, equipped with a free pedometer they got by signing up for the program.
Through the fitness program, participants can take part in monthly walks to be held on the first Saturday of each month at a city park to be announced. All the starting times will be 9 a.m.
Participants can track their progress as individuals and groups at the website http://stepitupabq.com/.
Under a bright sun, promising that spring is near, Mayor Richard Berry, Dr. Barry Ramo and Dr. John Iacuone, chief medical officer of Lovelace Health Plan, gave pep talks to the walkers.
“I just moved here from San Francisco, and what a great way to meet people, walking in this beautiful sunshine, making a new friend,” Laura Mann-Patterson said, walking with her new friend Sandra Gonzales of Albuquerque, who confided she’s originally from Oakland.
“Just having a new friend and people to walk with, I already feel at home,” Mann-Patterson said.
Anita Martinez and Francisca Nathan are old friends whose children went to school together from elementary school through college.
“Now that our kids are graduated or in college, we’re renewing old friendships,” Martinez said. It’s just the thing to get people going, she said, though she added that many more kids should get involved.
“What prevents most people from exercising is their busy lives and believing they don’t have the time,” said Cindy Garcia, who was walking with her daughter, Cass Logan.
“You just have to make the time, because it really doesn’t take much if you plan it right,” Garcia said.
“It’s a great way for us to bond and to get healthy at the same time,” Logan added.
Karen Green and her boxer dog, Belle, were bonding, too — though Green said she also hoped to lose some weight while Belle gained stamina and agility.
“This is a great thing for Albuquerque,” Green said. “Especially because we so love our Mexican food here, and so we need to exercise a little more.”
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