WILLIAMSON — When the Walk with Ease program first started in 2012, it was held at only one location and had a handful of participants. Now with the program entering its eighth year, Walk with Ease has expanded and is now held at four locations in Mingo and Pike counties.

The Walk with Ease program is hosted by Williamson Health and Wellness Center and is a free six-week walking program that is taught and led by well-trained facilitators.

“The Walk with Ease program is through the Arthritis Foundation, and it helps people learn about the fundamentals of walking and getting themselves back out there,” promoter Alexis Batausa said. “It is great for the elderly, but it is good for people of all ages. Some people think that walking isn’t exercise, but it’s really good for you, and it’s something that only takes 30 minutes to an hour a day.”

Batausa said he helps a lot with the community outreach and promoting the program but credited Bev Workman for being the facilitator and coordinating the program. He said she has been involved since the beginning in 2012.

“The best thing about this program is it is completely free,” Batausa said. “They start the six weeks by learning some stretches and some education on what is expected in the program. Then they go into the workouts, and they don’t go by miles they go by minutes.”

The six-week program is scheduled to start Monday, Jan. 13, and will conclude Friday, Feb. 21. The four locations this year are the Southside Mall inside the Party Room, the Church of Christ in Hardy, Kentucky, the Delbarton Opry House and the Harless Center in Gilbert.

They also offer the classes on a variety of days and times to try to give people as many options as possible to attend any of the locations.

Heather Wolford is the instructor for the classes at the Southside Mall, which will be 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The classes at the Harless Center are from 1 to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays by Susie Mattucci-Rasmussen, and the Delbarton Opry House hosts their classes from 11 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Lori Powers is the instructor for the Delbarton courses.

The classes at the Hardy Church of Christ are from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and are taught by Terri Mills.

During the 2019 Walk with Ease program, Batausa said participants received free registration into the Southern Harvest Half Marathon, 5K and 1.6-mile walk last fall. He said they participated in the 1.6-mile walk and that participants in the 2020 program will also receive free entry into one of the Tug Valley Road Runners Club’s events later this year.

Williamson Health and Wellness Center also hosts a free weekly seated gentle yoga class taught by Batausa, a certified yoga instructor, at the Southside Mall.

In this class, participants will be taught various breathing exercises and chair exercises. Batausa said the stretches can help people of all ages and are actually very relaxing.

“It is very beneficial especially with the stretches, because you are sitting in a chair, and you don’t have to stand. Then the breathing exercises help you relax, and you just feel better about yourself.”

Batausa said a typical class has anywhere from 10 to 20 participants. Their largest class had 50 people. The seated yoga classes are held at 10 a.m. every Friday in the Southside Mall Party Room.

For more information on the Walk with Ease program, contact Bev Workman at 304-475-2447 or call the Williamson Health and Wellness Center at 304-235-3400.

For more information on the free seated yoga classes, contact Batausa at the Wellness Center.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.