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They hit the mall before stores open

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They hit the mall before stores open

Mall walkers like the controlled environment.

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POSTED May 29, 2013 5:48 p.m.

Want to walk in a place that has plenty of security, is shielded against the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter, and is restroom accessible? Well, put on your walking shoes and head out to the Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto before all the stores open.

The sprawling mall opens its doors as early as 6 a.m. seven days a week for walkers but Janice Curtin, Vintage Faire’s marketing manager said “walkers are here at all hours though.”

Anyone is welcome to stroll the interior courtyard at their own pace but the mall has a Club FIT incentives program in which an estimated 850 walkers are enrolled.

“If they walk once around the lower level, including all alcoves, it is a half-mile,” said Curtin. “The best part is that the mall offers a temperature-controlled, safe place to walk in all kinds of weather, extreme heat and cold, foggy days.”

The mall itself encourages walking as a win-win situation for mall shops and walkers. Most walkers choose to walk the mall before customers arrive at 10 a.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. Saturdays. Mall walkers tend to be in the senior set – although “stroller moms” also show up – and tend to be highly responsible and require little supervision. The mall realizes it’s good public relations since prospective customers are exposed to the view of shop names and views of products on display. Many walkers hang out and buy food at the food court. Walkers also have a chance to meet others who are out trying to get healthy exercise as well.

“There’s a pretty good sized group that walks and then they all congregate at the Cinnabon afterwards and have coffee and talk,” said Curtin. “There was a group of about 30 that all met out here walking and went on a cruise together. It’s a very inclusive group. There’s almost like a welcoming team that when they see somebody they get to know them and invite them to hang out with them. There’s been some real lifelong friendships and camaraderie that’s really formed in addition to all the healthy benefits of walking.”

Open and free to the public, Club F.I.T is Vintage Faire’s walking program. Club FIT members are welcome to walk inside the Vintage Faire Mall starting at 6 a.m. every day. For security reasons, members must enter through Door #30 (located near J.C. Penney where it says “Security”) and sign in. A membership can be started by stopping by the Guest Services Center at Vintage Faire Mall located on the lower level next to Center Court. Fill out the registration form and you will be issued your membership card with mall. Members will be added to the mailing list and kept you up-to-date on quarterly healthy breakfasts furnished by The Courtyard by Marriott, which is a Club F.I.T. sponsor along with Central Valley Med Group and Healthy Aging Association. The breakfasts are held in the mall courtyard and include a presentation by a wellness expert as well as a presentation to the “Mall Walker of the Quarter.”

Members who keep track of their mileage on Club FIT mileage cards submitted to Guest Services are eligible for “walking rewards” once they log in 50, 100, 250 and 500 miles within a year’s time. Rewards may include towels, T-shirts, water bottles, and other items.

The concept of mall walking did not originate in Modesto but has caught on in the area.

“I think the mall is really a gathering place for everybody in the community,” said Curtin, “and that’s a positive thing. Not only are we an economic engine but we can be the social heart of the community.”

Because all the mall’s floors are cement hard, walkers are advised to get a good pair of shoes with plenty of bounce to absorb the shock on the feet.

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