Dozens of Millennials in Charlotte are taking on the practice of a longstanding fitness routine: Mallwalking.
It’s catching fire among more hardcore members of the local fitness scene who aren’t fans of adding rest days into their weekly workout schedules. Crossfitters, Madabolic junkies and even Ironman competitors are incorporating this exercise into their rotation. They mainly congregate at SouthPark Mall after work, meeting at Reid’s Fine Foods for a happy hour beverage, then strapping on their sneakers and heading inside to start walking.
“I like to keep my body guessing,” said Ironman competitor Theoden Schmanes. “What people don’t realize about Mallwalking is that the pacing is really intense.”
To prove it, Schmanes recently set a new personal record: A seven-minute half-mile.
But it’s not really about the competition. Katie Phleralta, a competitive Flywheel rider, said she welcomes the one day a week that she takes a break from spinning class and walks the now-popular “SouthPark Loop” with a few of her coworkers.
“It’s kind of meditative,” she said of the sport, which doesn’t incorporate music, or even props like weights or support bands. “It’s one beautiful connection of breath to movement, which requires mindfulness.”
Corey Pinscoe, a personal trainer in Charlotte, predicts that the “Millennial Mallwalking phenomenon,” as he calls it, will next spread to the Overstreet Mall uptown.
“There is an abundance of Millennials seeking relief after work hours,” he said. “Instead of going bonkers in rush hour traffic or draining pints of beers at breweries, it would be really cool to see people gathering to exercise together. Revolutionary, even.”
New to Mallwalking? Ready to leap in and try it? Pinscoe suggests taking it slow at first, then keeping it slow. Wear comfortable running shoes with cushy socks, and consider trying some gel pads if your heels are particularly tender.
For maximum results, he said, alternate intervals of shuffle-stepping (as if you were dragging a pair of fuzzy slippers across a thick, thick carpet) and basic striding.
But most importantly, he said, “Smile. Mallwalking is all about making friends and becoming part of something greater — a community that moves together. Breathes together. Walks together.”
*April Fools. Nothing in this story is true.
Photos: Katie Toussaint