Take a Walk at Home with Leslie Sansone: Inside This Surprising Fitness Fad

Photo Courtesy: @WalkAtHome/Twitter

Warmer weather is around the corner, and people are continuing to work on their fitness regimens. For many, walking is a great low-impact workout that yields awesome results. And while some may prefer to head outside to get their steps in or take advantage of the gym's treadmill, others, who are concerned about COVID-19, might not feel comfortable leaving their homes yet. 

If you're in the stay-at-home boat, we might have a great walking program for you to try. So, what is this regimen? It's the Walk at Home program — with beloved instructor Leslie Sansone! Perfect for staying active at home, all you'll need is a little space and a solid internet connection. Before you get walking, let's delve into this fitness fad and the ways in which it can help you reach your goals. 

How Did Leslie Sansone Walk Her Way to Fame?

While some may just now be catching onto the Walk at Home program, it has actually been around for almost 30 years! In the 1980s, when aerobics classes were all the rage, Leslie Sansone began her own fitness classes in a church basement. However, her fast-paced aerobics class wasn't a match for everyone, so, with this in mind, she developed a walking program that could appeal to people of varying fitness levels. The classes quickly grew in popularity. In a twist of fate, one of Sansone's friends filmed a class, which sparked the idea to develop a full walk-from-home exercise program.

 Photo Courtesy: @WalkAtHome/Twitter

Since then, Sansone has built her modest walking program into a multimillion-dollar empire. She has created over 100 DVDs and released four fitness books, all of which aim to help people form healthy habits. In recent years, she and her team have also uploaded tons of these Walk at Home videos to YouTube, and, as a result, have garnered millions of subscribers, views, and Walk-at-Home converts. 

Sure, walking in your bedroom or living is convenient, but it can get a little lonely. Originally, the free videos were uploaded to YouTube to help people connect and form community while at home. And, as we've seen with other online fitness regimens and gym memberships, this idea of virtual fitness community is something many folks are craving, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What Does the Walk at Home Program Entail?

So, how does Sansone's Walk at Home program work, and how does it differ from the average walk outside? Well, for starters, the program incorporates more "movements" than a typical stroll might. The videos, which range from 10 to 45 minutes in length, show Sansone and her background walkers practicing four basic steps. 

The first? Simply walk in place. This basic move is one Sansone always returns to, no matter the routine. Another popular move? The knee lift, which involves lifting each knee as high as is comfortable for you. If you've ever played a sport, you may recognize this move as being akin to the "high knees" warm-up drill. Additionally, the program implements light kicks and side steps, both of which help with toning. Depending on the video, Sansone may add in some additional moves to keep things fresh, but it's never anything too strenuous.

 Photo Courtesy: @WalkAtHome/Twitter

The moves are all set to music, allowing participants to speed up and slow down the walk based on the beats per minute of each individual track. By the end of each video, viewers have done enough steps to equate to at least one mile. Impressive, right? Best of all, the workouts are designed to be fun and immersive, so much so that participants won't realize how much of a workout they've done. And, if you're looking for a little something extra, some longer videos incorporate basic strength training exercises into the regimen too. To keep the workout low-impact, these strength-training moves often require light resistance bands. 

While Sansone often leads the program — as well as many of the videos you'll come across on YouTube — she's also developed a team of dedicated "Super Walkers" in recent months to help share the leadership duties. Rest assured, every individual walker in the videos, whether leading the class or simply participating in the background, brings a lot of energy and excitement to the walks.

What Are the Benefits of the Walk at Home Program?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 145 million adults make walking a part of their fitness routines. Of course, a simple walk has many great benefits. Not only do routine strolls help with weight loss, but they can also lower one's risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers. And, unlike other workouts, walking isn't too intense or hard on the body, making it accessible to many folks. 

 Photo Courtesy: @WalkAtHome/Twitter

Besides the health benefits, one of the biggest upsides to Walk at Home is the convenience factor. Grab a pair of shoes, turn on a video, and start moving! There's no need to drive anywhere, brave the elements, or navigate a packed gym. This also makes it easier to fit into one's schedule — after all, on super busy days you just need 10 minutes to get a good walk (with Leslie) in. 

Thanks to those extra moves, the program also helps you work muscles a typical walk wouldn't target. And, though there are "steps" involved, it's not like a dance program, which involves a lot of coordination. As Sansone stresses in her videos, the most important part is to just keep moving. In fact, Sansone's energy is infectious — and it's that enthusiasm, that fun, that really shines through and sets Walk at Home apart from other at-home workout programs.

How the Program Has Thrived During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Though Sansone and her Walk at Home program has been a hit since the 1980s, the program has gained even more traction over the past year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Her videos have been accessible via YouTube since 2015, but, when gyms and yoga studios shuttered, droves of exercise enthusiasts and fitness beginners alike turned to her channel for a quarantine-friendly routine. In turn, the Walk at Home team has created more content than ever before. 

 Photo Courtesy: @WalkAtHome/Twitter

A year later, some people still don't feel comfortable going to the gym or even talking a walk outdoors near other people, especially with the vaccine rollout still in progress. With this in mind, Sansone's Walk at Home program gives folks the opportunity to keep moving and reach their fitness goals without worrying about safety. And although this program may be at the height of its popularity right now, Walk at Home sure doesn't show any signs of slowing down. 

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