What may look to the untrained eye like a group of shoppers enjoying a spot of retail therapy at the White Rose Shopping Centre is actually an exercise class in full swing.
Called Mall Walking - no doubt due to its origins across the pond, is an opportunity to exercise in a safe, warm and dry environment, make new friends and have fun at the same time.
The White Rose Mall Walkers meet up every morning from 9am for an hour’s walking before the centre opens to shoppers. Some come daily, others two or three times a week but those that do attend regularly, do so as much for the socialising as the walking.
Nikki Appleton, marketing manager for White Rose, said: “We’ve been running the group for ten years now as part of our partnership with the local community and some people have been with us since the beginning
“They love the fact that it keeps them healthy and they get the opportunity to walk whatever the weather, while meeting like-minded people.
“We have a loyalty scheme that rewards 20 visits with a free hot drink and we run two coffee mornings a year with raffles and free refreshments.
“In the very near future we are going to be issuing each walker with a tabard and a pedometer so they can track how far they walk.”
Each circuit of the ground floor is a quarter-of-a-mile; some people go round two or three times, others can do as many as eight.
One couple who have been stalwarts from the start of the scheme are 82-year-old Audrey Howcroft and her 83-year-old husband Douglas, who live in Tingley.
Audrey was sent along to try mall walking under doctor’s orders and, at first the couple came every day for an hour’s gentle exercise.
Over the years they’ve reduced the number of visits to two or three a week; on the day of our interview Douglas had managed three laps of the centre and Audrey, two.
Maureen Kidd aged 70 from Leeds began attending with her husband Paul, 69, who was recuperating from an operation.
Maureen says: “Paul needed to exercise but also to be able to have a rest whenever he needed to so this was ideal.
Rita Hall, 82, from Morley, comes along two or three times a week. She says: “I like to come just to keep going, someone told us about it, they said it was a nice social get together.
Margaret Wears and her husband moved to Morley two years ago to be closer to their son.
“They saw an advert for the group and decided to come along.”It’s been a way of meeting new friends, they’ve all been very welcoming and looked after us, “ she says.
If you’d like to take part in the White Rose Mall Walks, which are completely free of charge, just go along to the customer service centre located on the lower level next to Argos to register your interest and start walking.
But remember to sign out again at the end of your walk and get your card stamped.
Or you can contact: The White Rose Shopping Centre, Dewsbury Road, Leeds, LS11 8LU.
Telephone: 113 229 1234