From the Post Gazette Local Extra...
New clubs bring noncompetitive Volkssport to the people
If a group whose name means “the people’s sport” sounds like it’s dedicated to stress-free, noncompetitive physical activity for folks of all ability levels, that’s because it is.
Volkssport is a movement that started in the 1960s in Germany to hold public running races. It became so popular that an international organization was formed, and in 1976, the first American club was launched in Texas.
Now, two Westmoreland County residents are forming clubs under the umbrella of the American Volkssport Association, a nonprofit that organizes public walking — also called volksmarching —events plus biking, swimming, skiing, snowshoeing and roller-skating activities.
Members can obtain a distance book, which can be stamped for each event they take part in, recording the number of miles they traveled.
The Steel Turtles Walking Club, based in Greensburg, held its first event this month in Ohiopyle, and the Mon Valley Trailblazers, based in Monessen, is holding a recruitment walk Saturday in Punxsutawney. The clubs plan to hold events all over Western Pennsylvania.
Before the two new clubs were formed, the closest Volkssport club to the Pittsburgh region was in Steubenville, Ohio, with other clubs in central and eastern Pennsylvania.
Stephen Edson’s reason for starting The Steel Turtles Walking Club is straightforward: “I like to walk every day,” the Greensburg resident said. “I [wanted] to start a club so people interested in walking could have someone to walk with.”
The club will hold walks in cities, towns and parks to provide a variety of settings to satisfy all walkers, according to its website. Members walk at their own pace and can stop to look at scenery, take pictures, visit museums or shops, have a picnic, or rest whenever they feel like it.
The group’s next trip will be a walk in early November on the trail at Presque Isle, Erie. Members can do either a 5-kilometer or 10-kilometer walk.
Early next year, the club will hold a “couch to 5K” event for people who want to build up to a 5K walk by starting with shorter distances, Mr. Edson said.
The club also plans walking events in Johnstown, Ligonier, Confluence, Kittanning, Connellsville and Greensburg. Its website is https://www.meetup.com/The-Steel-Turtles-Walking-Club/.
Lori Lamberski of Monessen started the Mon Valley Trailblazers, which will hold a 5K recruitment walk at 10 a.m. Saturday in Punxsutawney, starting at 301 East Mahoning St., near the den of groundhog Punxsutawney Phil.
Ms. Lamberski and Marcy Lucas of the Harrisburg-based Susquehanna Rovers Volksmarch Club will select one or more 5K routes depending on the interests of those walking. One is a challenging course over Gobbler’s Knob, one goes through Punxsutawney’s historic downtown, and one route goes over the Mahoning Shadow Rail Trail.
Ms. Lamberski also has scheduled a walk on June 9, 2018, with a start time anytime from 8 to 11 a.m. at Ohiopyle, and she is scheduling walks at Cedar Creek Park in Rostraver and Mingo Park in Washington County.
She said traditional Volkssport events have a registration table. Other events, called year-round events, have members register by going to a location where a “start box” has been established.
She has arranged for a start box to be placed at the registration desk of the Wyndham Grand Hotel on Commonwealth Place near the Point in Pittsburgh for a bike ride from the Point to Ohiopyle. Participants who want credit with the American Volkssport Association for taking the ride can ask for the materials from the clerk on duty at the hotel.
For more information about the association: American Volkssport Association at www.ava.org.
Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: email@example.com.
From the Mon Valley Independent eEdition...
Monessen woman brings fitness program to Valley
Lori Lamberski always wanted to improve her physical fitness level.
As a caregiver the past 10 years for her mother, Norma Lewis, who suffers from dementia and heart disease, Lamberski decided to do just that.
“I see myself and my health declining because she can’t be left alone,” Lamberski said of her mom. “I’m actually stuck, and all I do is eat. I don’t have anything else to get me involved actively.”
Aware other caregivers deal with similar problems, the Monessen woman sought a way to form friendships with them and others.
That led to creation of the Mon Valley Trailblazers Walking Club, a group of men, children and women working to create a healthy community. Lamberski is the club’s president.
Its mission is to “promote and organize noncompetitive fitness activities that encourage lifelong fun, fitness and friendship for all ages and abilities.”
The club is sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association.
The term volkssport means “sport of the people.” It promotes organized events for the general public.
Participants go at their own pace while taking part in five types of events: walking, biking, swimming, skiing and snowshoeing or roller skating.
Volkssporting began in southern Germany in the early 1960s and has risen in popularity in the United States, starting in Fredericksburg, Texas, in 1976.
Lamberski established the Mon Valley club July 3 because the closest volkssporting event in Pennsylvania is in the Harrisburg area.
Steubenville, Ohio, is the closest to the west.
Lamberski was introduced to volkssporting in San Antonio, where she resided for 15 years.
Volkssporting’s national headquarters is in Texas.
While learning about volkssporting activities and related health benefits, she realized it brings families together.
“When I lived in San Antonio, I would take my children with me on the weekends, and the events were always at a different venue,” Lamberski said.
“And that’s the same with up here with different hiking and walking (venues).
“After the walk, we would actually stay at the park and have a picnic.”
A number of year-round and seasonal events are planned through the rest of this year and into 2018.
“You have different events; you have a traditional, where you set up tables and have a start and a finish (line),” Lamberski said. “Then, you have a seasonal, which runs from a certain date to a certain date every year, and you have year-round (events) that are from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.” The next activity will be a traditional event on Dec. 9 for the Twin Lakes 5K and 10K walk, which will include a side trip to Overly’s Country Christmas Village at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds in Mt. Pleasant Township.
Some traditional events next year include 5K and 10K walks at Cedar Creek Park in Rostraver Township, Ohiopyle State Park and Mingo Creek Park in Union Township.
A seasonal snowshoe event is scheduled from January to March at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Wharton Township, Fayette County. Members can obtain distance books to track the number of kilometers they walk and events in which they participate.