www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-readers-work-out-fells-walkers-20120718,0,6303081.story

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How we work out: Fells Point walking women

Readers share their sweaty, happy stories

By Kate Godwin, The Baltimore Sun

6:45 PM EDT, July 18, 2012

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"Don't be late, no men allowed, and no pets allowed." This motto outlines the three rules laid out for the Fells Point walking women, a group of 26 ladies who take to the streets (and piers) of the Inner Harbor every weekday morning.

How it started: The group was founded more than 20 years ago when a small gathering of friends started trekking a route around the Inner Harbor. Heidi Bathon, Phyllis Finn and Mary Graul began meeting at the corner of William and Montgomery streets for their morning walk, and quickly gained new members in what became an unofficial exercise group. The group of walkers is now made up of 26 committed women between the ages of 50 and 80, though not everyone walks every day.

Why they walk: "I just wanted to make myself get out and exercise," says Sharon Michaels, who began pounding the bricks in Fells Point with the group five years ago. To her and other members, the cluster of women has become "more than just a walking group." The friends celebrate birthdays together and email regularly, with everything from exciting news to advice on which out-of-town restaurants to visit. "It's kind of like a support group," Michaels says, laughing.

A typical walk: Every Monday through Thursday morning, the group walks more than three miles along the Inner Harbor toward Fells Point, beginning at the Science Center and often ending at Panera for a morning cup of coffee. On Friday mornings, the group celebrates a week of walking with breakfast at Jimmy's Restaurant on South Broadway. "They always have our coffee out and ready," says Michaels about the restaurant's staff, who reserve a round table for the walkers every Friday. "We always have the same waitress, we even exchange Christmas presents."

Despite the 7:30 a.m. meeting time, Michaels and the Fells Point walking women find easy motivation for the early morning exercise. While Michaels notes that there are some days when she walks with just one other person, it's encouraging "knowing that someone is going to be there."

If you have a group that meets regularly to exercise, tell us about it so we can feature you in our Health & Style pages. We'll want basic information about your group (how often you meet, number of people in the group, what you do and why you do it), as well as a photo if you have one. Send to cmallette@baltsun.com or Catherine Mallette, Features, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21201.