Walk for health earns the Shoe
A Waikiki woman has won a Golden Shoe leadership award through the Heart Foundation, for organising a walking group aimed at keeping the community healthy while having fun.
The Golden Shoe Awards are handed out annually and recognise people across Australia who have made inspiring steps towards walking to keep themselves and others healthy.
Nikki Baluk organised the Harbour Family Chiropractic Walking Club after she suffered a transient ischaemic attack, sometimes called a ministroke, in 2016 when she was 28 weeks pregnant.
Keen to stay fit and healthy after the birth of her daughter Eden, Ms Baluk organised the walking group, which has now grown to about 30 members.
“It all started four years ago; after I had my little girl I was very conscious of getting well,” she said.
“Because of my job at Harbour Family Chiropractic and my fantastic boss Dean, I was able to create a walking group to help keep the community healthy too.
“It helped me work towards my health goals as well so I was really, really lucky.” The group walks every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 8am and Ms Baluk said they had started out walking about 3km, but were now walking up to 10km on some days.
“It was mums with prams originally and the social side of the group was a real godsend for us new mums,” she said. “Then slowly we were all returning to work and I started to get some phone calls from the Heart Foundation to introduce other walkers to us who wanted to look after their health as much as they could.
“The Heart Foundation provide a website where people can search for walking groups in their area, a couple of people who reached out through their webpage had had incidents such as heart attacks and scares, that made health a real focus.”
Ms Baluk said working out with a group could make it easier to get motivated and keep a regular training schedule.
“Other people are relying on you because you have said you’re going and once people get there, they are so glad they did it,” she said.
“Then you form a habit, our oldest walker is about 74, we pick anywhere between Mandurah through to Rockingham and Kwinana Beach.”
Ms Baluk found out she won the Golden Shoe Award several weeks ago when she received a phone call from the Heart Foundation.
“I was completely shocked, it was lovely really because I see it more as a team thing, we all contribute I just happened to be the one who organised it. You can’t do it without everybody’s input,” she said.
She was awarded a certificate, a golden shoe pin and a $250 gift card.
“I wanted to take the walking group out for breakfast and they have insisted I’m not allowed to, so I am thinking about maybe getting a new Fitbit because we love tracking our steps,” she said.
Ms Baluk said she encouraged others to join her walking group, or any other fitness groups in the area and said people who were struggling to start exercising but really wanted to should start by liking the groups on social media.
“Start by just joining social media clubs so it is all along your wall all the time so it is a constant reminder,” she said.
“Once you get into a routine it become so much easier and it is so much fun doing it with other people.”
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