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#HotGirlWalk inspires New York fitness craze: ‘It’s not your mom’s power walk’

About six months after Rachael Cell moved to New York from Chicago last fall, she noticed all of her clothes felt roomier. She wasn’t doing the weight-lifting workouts she previously did back home. She was just walking. Everywhere.

“Chicago is not really a walking city. [Here] I walk as much as I possibly can,” Cell, 24, told The Post of her athleisure-fueled power walks in her high-waisted Lululemon Align leggings.

Cell’s look and workout of choice is inspired by #HotGirlWalk, the viral TikTok obsession where young women take hours-long walks that also double as photo ops. Popular with Gen Z’ers and millennials, these heart-pumping mental health breaks are optimally done in chic matching sports bras and leggings, perhaps accessorized with cute arm-weight bracelets. Visualizing one’s “hotness” while walking is also key, according to Mia Lind, the 23-year-old woman who first coined the term in a TikTok with more than 750,000 views. Now, walking groups are springing up and boutique fitness studios are hot to trot with the growing demand for low-impact workouts that still deliver results.

A crowd of women gather on a recent Sunday for City Girls Who Walk, a weekly meetup where walkers can briskly walk, stroll or walk and talk.
Courtesy of Brianna Joye

“Getting outside and moving my body and getting fresh air automatically makes me feel better both physically and mentally,” said Cell, who earlier this year joined City Girls Who Walk, a free weekly walking club with 14,000 Instagram followers where hundreds of New York women gather every Sunday at 2 p.m. at Pier 45.

Cell also hits the treadmill at the gym, where she does the popular “12-3-30” workout, setting the incline at 12, the speed at 3 miles per hour and walking for 30 minutes.

Now, she said, “My jeans are getting too big.”

For a sweatier stroll, New York-based fitness studio SLT (Strengthen, Lengthen, Tone) just introduced its HIIT Walk. Billed as “not your mother’s power walking sesh,” the hybrid workout combines 25 minutes of interval-based treadmill walking with 25 minutes on the Megaformer.

“Walking is hot right now,” Amanda Freeman, the founder and CEO of SLT, told The Post.

“There are people who want to go on brisk walks, but hate running or other traditional forms of exercise. It used to be a joke that power walking around the mall was for older ladies and now it’s totally validated as a legit workout for people of all ages.”

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month found that walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes a day led to a reduced risk of heart disease and dementia, while more than 10,000 steps per day (the equivalent of five miles) may be associated with a lower risk of cancer and death.

SLT launched a HIIT Walk this week, inspired by the TikTok trend #HotGirlWalk with a high intensity, low impact workout that involves 25 minutes of interval walking.
Zach Hetrick

Brianna Joye, 29, a fitness instructor and the founder of City Girls Who Walk, said she incorporates walking intervals into her own workouts as well as those with clients.

“I use it to maintain my weight – I also tell my clients if you can walk 10,000 steps a day, you’re on the right track,” Joye said.

But really, any amount of walking that can be squeezed in is beneficial, say experts.

“Walking at a moderate to vigorous pace can improve memory, sleep, cognitive function and help control your weight,” Dr. Robert Glatter, a board-certified emergency medicine physician, told The Post.

Brianna Joye started City Girls Who Walk, a walking club for women that meets every Sunday at Pier 45. Ladies can power walk, stroll or walk and talk during the meet up group aimed at bringing people together.
Justin Steele

“While we encourage people to walk briskly or vigorously in order to obtain optimal health benefits, walking at even a slower to moderate pace can also reap numerous rewards. You don’t have to do 10,000 steps a day. Walking for just 15 to 30 minutes daily or even just three days a week can result in positive health benefits,” he said, noting that anything is better than constant sitting.

And that’s great news for followers of the #HotGirlWalk trend, which doesn’t show any signs of slowing down even with the mercury dropping.

“You literally couldn’t pay me to run,” Cell said.