With the hours of sunlight waning and the cold getting stronger with the approach of winter, the Ballston Spa Central School District has resumed its evening indoor walking program.
For a registration fee of $15 — or $18 for non-residents — the public can sign up to walk a circuit inside the corridors of the interconnected middle school and high school on Ballston Avenue.
The school district says it’s offering a safe place for exercise through the cold months.
The Walk About program opens the two schools to the walking public from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It started after Columbus Day, and will continue until the April school break.
School officials see it as a form of community outreach, providing a safe indoor place for casual sauntering or a brisk fitness walk, depending on what you’re looking for. It’s also letting people who might not formally see the inside of the schools learn a little more about what goes on there.
“It’s a fitness opportunity, and a good use of the space,” said Stuart Williams, the school district’s community relations coordinator.
While only a handful of people were using the program during the sunny days of early fall, Williams said that will change. By January, it’s likely that 100 or more people will have signed up.
Retired teacher Anne Dietrich and her husband, David, have been participating for the past four or five years, walking on a regular basis.
“It’s a friendly atmosphere, and in the winter the sidewalks aren’t always shoveled,” Dietrich said. “The people are friendly, and it’s nice.”
Williams personally started the program a decade ago, modeling it on one he was already familiar with from having grown up in Gloversville.
Those who are walking won’t feel like the only rat in a large maze. The buildings in the evening have student activities going on and community meetings taking place, and custodians are going about their duties. The custodians make sure people have their “Walk About” badges.
The walls of the school corridors are covered with student art work, inspirational posters and advertisements for upcoming plays, giving strollers something to look at, and perhaps useful information that might draw them back to a play or concert.
“We tell people to come on in, we’re open,” Williams said. “It’s a low-impact fitness activity.”
For young and old
While many of the participants are senior citizens and retirees, Williams said people of all ages are enrolled. He’s even seen young mothers with strollers.
The public can register for the Walk About program through the school district’s Office of District Advancement in the administrative building at 70 Malta Ave. Once registered, participants are issued an ID badge. On evenings when they want to walk, they go to the middle school lobby, where they sign in.
A full circuit through both buildings is 2,400 feet, or a little less than a half-mile. In addition to the largest circuit, there are several designated smaller loops through one building or the other, and people who are walking can come up with their own variations if they want to accumulate a mile or two of activity.
The Walk About program doesn’t run during the Christmas break or other days when the schools are closed.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 885-6705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.