In April, a walking club in New York went viral after women were seen walking along the Hudson River in what looked like a women’s march at first glance. In actuality, it was a walking group formed by fitness trainer Brianna Kohn, who saw a need to form strong bonds between women in the city. After several successful strolls along the pier, she officially launched City Girls Who Walk. Similar groups began to pop up in other big cities such as Chicago, Boston, Phoenix, and in May, City Girls Who Walk Houston (CGWWH) was created.
Once Tiffany Nelson first learned about the NYC walking club, she patiently waited for someone to start the group in Houston, and as time went on, she realized that the person who would need to step up and create one would be her. She put the word out there for the first walk to occur at 8 a.m. on May 1. By 8:30, 18 women were standing by the Wortham Fountain, ready to walk. As the word spread across the city, turnout grew to over 200 people.
“We are definitely building community within the community and it’s so exciting to see it grow. Plus, it’s a safe, loving, welcoming, inclusive group for all women of all ages from 18 to 81-years-old,” Nelson said. “It’s women supporting women. It’s been life-changing and life-affirming for me. It’s such a vibe!”
Aside from getting exercise and enjoying the outdoors, the idea is to make friends and create connections with other like-minded women across the city. Since the pandemic, there’s been an uptick in social isolation, which has made it difficult for people in a sprawling city like Houston to make genuine connections with others. Nelson believes that one way to solve feelings of isolation and make new friends is to simply go walking outside. “It’s great knowing that you don’t have to do anything or be anything and just show up. You don’t even have to talk because there are no expectations.”
After just 22 Sunday walks and many pop-up walks throughout the week at different locations to fit other people’s schedules, the group has grown into more of a social club with a side of walking. “We never say exercise, we don’t count steps, and everyone can walk at their own pace and go their own distance,” Nelson said. “The sweetest things are all of the friendships that have developed organically, and we all have this walking group in common and that’s it. Something magical is happening!”
CGWWH has created themed events such as the “Renaissance Walk”, where they listened to Beyonce’s new album for the entirety of the 4-mile trail; a PINK OUT, where everyone wore pink and raised $100 ($1 per walker) for Breast Cancer Awareness month; and a Women-Owned Wednesday walk. Then, there are the occasional pop-ups, one of which hosted a TikTok dance lesson. The group has gotten so popular that brands are getting in on the action with sponsored walks: AllBirds, Outdoor Voices, and Juiceland that have offered refreshments, treats, coupons, and free merch.
According to their Instagram, CGWWH are huge fans of Lizzo, and for her next tour through Houston this month, a few reels were created by the walking club’s social media team in hopes to recruit her for their next walk.
“My walking group is so into Lizzo. Every week I ask the girls what songs they want on the playlist and the first 25 suggestions are always Lizzo,” Nelson said. Realizing that the megastar will be in Houston for a show on October 26, the group started to wonder if she might join them for a walk. “If we could get Lizzo to come walk with us, they would die a good death. It would be amazing!”
City Girls Who Walk has reached several cities in Texas such as Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. Nelson helped start Lake Houston and Katy Girls Who Walk in the surrounding areas. The Houston club meets for a walk every Sunday at 9 a.m. at the Wortham Fountain in Buffalo Bayou at 2904 Allen Parkway. Walkers of all ages are welcome at the free event, as well as friendly dogs on leashes.