Learning How to Walk (Chewing Gum Not Included)

November 13, 2008

AFTER Lynne Wu moved to New York from Cincinnati, she realized her body wasn’t prepared for the sheer amount of pavement-pounding required in her adopted city.

“At the end of the day my lower back and ankles would hurt,” said Ms. Wu, 40, a development consultant for nonprofit organizations. “I just wasn’t used to walking that much.”

Ms. Wu discussed her problem with her former yoga teacher in Ohio, who made an unusual suggestion: why not take walking lessons?

Many people would have been insulted by such advice — don’t we all master this skill as a 1-year-old? — but to Ms. Wu it made perfect sense. “I hate exercising,” she said. “So I thought, ‘What would happen if I could walk properly and get a relaxed, centered workout in a city like this?’ ”

Last January, Ms. Wu and her husband, Rob Gilson, signed up for private walking classes with Jonathan FitzGordon, a yoga teacher and owner of Yoga Center of Brooklyn.

During 10 sessions over about seven months, Mr. FitzGordon trained her to walk with her feet parallel, her weight evenly distributed and her body aligned.

Ten months later, Ms. Wu still had ankle issues — she was in the very late stages of pregnancy — but her back pain was gone and her walk had changed drastically. More…