10 Questions with Walking Guru Leslie Sansone


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  193 comments   :  128,059 Views

Leslie Sansone really walks the walk. For 27 years, she has helped people get in shape by putting one foot in front of the other. Best known for her "Walk At Home" and "Walk Away the Pounds" fitness DVDs, she truly is America's fitness-walking authority. I recently was given the opportunity to interview Leslie via email, and the passion in her answers jumped off the screen.

Read on to see Leslie's answers to member-submitted questions, her #1 secret to keeping her walks fun and interesting, and her top 5 tips to starting a solid walking program.

Coach Nicole: How much of a role does walking play in your own workout routine?
Leslie Sansone: I love all of the ways that a body can be active, but walking is the ONLY workout I do on a regular basis. I am a former owner of a fitness center so I love group exercise classes, cardio machines, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, strength equipment and more. However, I don't use equipment consistently enough for total fitness. I follow my own along with traditional outdoor or treadmill walks as the foundation for my health and fitness. Everything else is just a bonus!

CN: For a beginner walker, what's more important: duration, speed or distance?
LS: Everyone that is just starting a regular routine of fitness should only have one goal: Don't allow anything to keep you from your walk. Do at least 5 minutes of brisk walking before you say, "I don't have time for this today," or, "I don't feel like it." The #1 rule to success is to do a very small "dose" of fitness walking each day. The beauty of fitness walking is that it has the lowest rate of soreness or injury.

Start with a goal of walking 1 mile—no matter how long it takes. This can be a part of your regular routine, three, four or five times per week. Once you can walk that mile, try keep working until you can do a mile in less than 20 minutes; slowly progress to a one brisk mile in 15 minutes. I believe we can all enjoy great health well into our later years if we can continue to walk a mile in 15 minutes! It's a great mark of personal fitness at any time of life!

CN: What are your top 5 tips for creating a safe and effective walking program?
LS: I always follow the essentials of fitness science:
  1. Our bodies need "rehearsal" time—that's a warm up!
  2. Next we need a safe way to increase intensity. A gradual increase in pace will get us to the speed we need for health-enhancing results.
  3. Maintain that brisk pace for at least 12 minutes. We can get aerobic training effect in as little as 12 minutes a day!
  4. A safe transition to bring heart rate back down—that's a cool down walk.
  5. Stretch. The BEST time to increase flexibility and range of motion is when muscles are super warm, and that is always AFTER a brisk walk or any aerobic exercise.
CN: What's the next step after walking? Once your DVDs become easier or someone has walked for a while and is ready to take it to the next level, what do you recommend?
LS: Walk Boosters! We have a full line of fitness products that BOOST the results of our walking workouts. These are safe ways to add light resistance to every step, use more muscle and burn more calories—it's so easy!

CN: How do you keep both your outdoor and indoor walks fun and interesting? LS: MUSIC! Music really moves the body and soul. When my music is motivating, my walks are SUPER!

CN: Why is walking so important and beneficial when it comes to health and fitness?
LS: I just read the gazillionth study that showed how exercise keeps the brain performing at high levels well into our later years, and we have decades of research proving people that engage in brisk exercise get sick less. Study after study after study after study proves this! Walking is the exercise that most of us can do for a lifetime; make it your sport for life!

CN: You've created a Walk Leader certification, where you and your experienced staff train everyday people to lead walks in their own neighborhoods—and make money doing it! How can exercisers find a walk group/class in their area and/or how can someone start their own?
LS: Thanks for asking this important question. We are so proud to announce that we have launched our Walk Leader training! We are going back to our roots as an organization, as I started leading group exercise classes in 1979 in church halls. Now is the perfect time to get back involved with our communities and help with public health reform. Healthcare is each of our personal responsibility. We can greatly reduce the high costs of disease care when we all practice preventative health care! Starting walk classes in communities all across the country is one way to make a positive change! We walk the world!

CN: I also asked Leslie Sansone fans on SparkPeople to submit some questions for Leslie. Here are three questions that we selected to ask Leslie on behalf of our members.

MOMMIEHAMPTON: Do you have any 5-mile walks in the works?
WOW! MOMMIEHAMPTON, you must be super fit to ask for the long walks! I do have a great 5-Mile Fat Burning Walk available anywhere DVDs are sold or on my website walkathome.com. A 5-mile walk is so perfect for weekends or always remember that you can use our Mile System anyway that you choose; do 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 miles any time of the day or night. That's why DVD's are so important to maintain a regular routine—they are there when you are ready to walk!

JENNIFERKCM: Leslie has a lot of great videos! She was a pivotal part of helping me to get moving again. She made it doable. One thing I hear a lot is how to "step up" her videos (make them more challenging, harder, etc) as our fitness levels increase (or desire a more intense workout). What does she recommend?
Hellllooooo JENNIFERKCM! My first recommendation would be to BOOST the walk with Walk Boosters and "Boosted" walking, which is actually mild jogging in place of the walking periods. Walk Boosters generally add light resistance to every step and you will really notice how your muscles change and become leaner! Or you may want to GO THE EXTRA MILE. An extra mile once or twice each week can really shake things up and help to drop weight or bust through a plateau. Walk on, my friend Jen!

DODAYLADY: My question for Leslie is this. I have always heard that you should only weight train every other day to let your muscles rest. On most of her DVDs only two-pound weights are used, so can you use a light weight like that on consecutive days?
LS: Great question DODAYLADY. It is always best to use weights on non-consecutive days; muscles do need rest days as part of their conditioning cycle. I would do just the walks some days and then use the weights on opposite days. This also keeps the muscles guessing by varying the intensity from day to day! Keep walking strong, my friend!

CN: I'd like to thank Leslie again for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers in such a thorough and thoughtful manner. Her newest DVD release, Walk Your Belly Flat 3-Mile Walk is available now, and I hope to review it for our readers soon!

Is walking part of your fitness program, too? Have you ever tried one of Leslie's walking DVDs? If so, what did you think about it?

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  • 143
    I love, love, LOVE Leslie! She is such a motivation - I lost my first 50 lbs with her DVDs!! I own several of her workout DVDs and am always recommending her to people I know - along with Spark of course :) - 11/18/2009   9:36:29 AM
    LOVE HER!!! So positive, full of energy and she is a great teacher...repeats movements so they are quick to learn. I just bought 2 of her CD's. Highly recommend her if you haven't tried her walks yet! GREAT STUFF!!! - 11/17/2009   7:40:53 PM
  • 141
    I love Leslie's DVD's and videos! I need to use them more than I do, though, and I shall. - 11/12/2009   12:21:15 AM
  • 140
    I haven't used any of her DVD's but I am so interested in trying them. I've heard nothing but positive things about her and her walking videos. - 11/11/2009   6:47:10 PM
  • 139
    A number of years ago I attended aerobics classes offered by Leslie - before she started the walking routine. Back in western PA. - 11/10/2009   9:23:52 PM
  • 138
    Leslie and her walks are great!! Very motivating and fun no matter what the weather!! - 11/9/2009   10:21:09 PM
  • 137
    I run, swim, bike and lift...among other things. But, I always take time for a walk at least 4 days a week. I agree that walking is for life. It doesn't matter what my other routines are, I believe that walking is a cornerstone of healthy living. - 11/9/2009   12:25:13 PM
  • 136
    When I was entering into the fitness mode following my back injury I was (and still am) very sensitive to doing exercises that would not re injure or adgetate my back. As it turns out walking was the perfect exercise because it not only helped to naturally move my body in ways that it set my spine into alignment but then with WATP programs I was able to bump up the effectiveness of my walking and walk year round! The programs worked my core and then with the addition of bands and other moves, worked my upper body muscles as well. LOVE IT!!!! - 11/9/2009   11:13:33 AM
  • 135
    Walking with Leslie Sansone is my main form of exercise. I use at least 1 tape or DVD at least twice a week. Im just walking 2 miles right now, but I do hope to be at 3 miles by February. Im working on boosting my walking with strecth bands and the waist band. Maybe Ill even try the light jog boost soon! - 11/9/2009   8:57:10 AM
  • 134
    Walking is the main event in fitness for me, but I am still working to get a walk in everyday. I am working on adding some light jogging, more strength training, and a daily stretch video in as well. I have one of Leslie's DVDs and have used it a few times. I plan to get it out and use it some more as cold weather arrives. I love walking outdoors, but the DVD is a great way to stomp on the bad weather excuse. - 11/9/2009   7:39:53 AM
  • 133
    Walking is my main fitness tool. I'll need to look into some of her information. - 11/8/2009   4:12:38 PM
  • 132
    Leslie started me on my journey with her 1 mile walk. I lost 80lbs doing her 1-2 mile walk with the weighted balls and the 1-2-3 mile ab belt workouts. I love it and it showed me that it did not take a lot of time to see results.

    I love Leslie!!! - 11/8/2009   2:54:54 PM
  • 131
    Words cannot express how grateful I am to Leslie Sansone and SP. I found a set of WATP vhs tapes (with the weighted balls included) at a thrift store18 months ago. I had never done one of her workouts and thought it might be a good fit for me because I was having a hard time figuring out how to exercise with my two young kids at home. I found the 1 mile workout challenging enough that I got a little sweat going and had a smile plastered on my face while doing it. Well I kept at it and improved my health and was motivated to try new things in my life. I started taking Taekwondo lessons but after 6 months hurt my knee and had to have surgery. I've been recuperating for the last 3 months and recently have started building up my fitness level again...with Leslie! Her workouts are so easily modified that I did a one mile walk within a week of having surgery. She always lifts my spirits and makes me feel happy and that makes me a better person.

    ps I own about 12 of her dvds now and love them all. - 11/8/2009   1:34:28 PM
    i have her dvd walk at home...sometimes i use the belt she provides, sometimes I use my 5lb weights, sometimes i just walk and do the arm motions...it all works - 11/7/2009   1:27:08 PM
  • 129
    Note to beginners: Invite this woman into your home. She will get you moving! Regardless of your size or fitness status, almost anyone can walk. She got me up off the couch and I am forever grateful! - 11/7/2009   11:17:03 AM
  • KIMS76
    I love her! She makes walking sooooo fun! I hated exercising. I wasn't exercising at all until I read here at Spark that a member used her tapes and had walked away 70lbs in her home. So, I went on Ebay and purchased a pack. It is the Walk Slim DVD's. I swear by them! I am down 42.8lbs and counting! I do the Fast Start 1 & 2 Fast Miles. I said by Dec 1st I was going to start doing the 3 Fast Miles and by April of 2010 I hope to be able to do the 4 Fast Miles and so on. She's a great inspiration! I recommend her DVD's to anyone looking to walk away the pounds! - 11/7/2009   12:43:06 AM
    When I started exercise, I weighted 183, now I'm down to 171, I started with the video "Walk away the pounds -Express 1-mile Easy Walk, 2 -mile Brisk walk, 30 min's since then I have bought a lot more video's of these and I am still doing these. They are my Favorite!!! I am working to bring my weight down more with them. So Thank you Leslie, for changing my lifestyle. - 11/6/2009   10:17:34 PM
  • GIRLIE2010
    I have her Walk at home: walk away your waistline video and it is great. - 11/6/2009   9:59:33 PM
  • 125
    I just got the 3 mile walk from the original 3-tape series. I previously had it on video tape but needed it on DVD. That's a really good one, especially the arm movements. - 11/6/2009   6:21:52 PM
  • 124
    I have been using Leslie Sansone's walk DVD and it works very well if you stick with at least 4-5 times a week. - 11/6/2009   1:28:26 PM
    I wish I could walk for long periods. But I can't because of all things, I have arthritis in my NECK. I can walk for a number of short walks during a day, but a longer walk will make me very sore, and the soreness may cause pain for days and days.

    It makes me very unhappy because I would like to do some walking vacations in England, etc. - 11/6/2009   10:45:56 AM
  • 121
    Leslie is great! I just did her 2 mile walk on Exercise TV. Now to find the 3 mile. Great to do indoors when the weather is not so good. Thanks for the blog! - 11/6/2009   6:48:13 AM
  • 120
    I haven't tried one yet.. But it sure sounds like fun !! - 11/6/2009   4:16:27 AM
    I have been doing Leslie's tapes for 2 years now. One lady in our government office building started with one of Leslie's 2 mile on Monday, Wednesday & Fridays. When she stopped bringing the projector & DVD because her job duties change, we put it on an audio tape cassette to keep it going due to us knowing how the routine by hard so we didn't need to see the visual. By Christmas time, many people had stopped all together. I brought my own copies and kept doing it at home. At the beginning of this year, another lady who was working on losing some weight took over bringing the projector and DVD three days a week. On the days we don't do it, I just go walking on my lunch hour around the downtown area back streets for at least 2-3 miles. My persistence and consistency have encouraged many women in the office to come to the Leslie workout class or start doing some exercise. I know I have lost at least 25-30 pounds. It is the most easiest exercise you can do and follow. You will be amazed how it strengths your body, the weight loss and you can do it at the comfort of your home! No matter how big, heavy you are, you can start slowly with the one mile and build it up from there. You will be amazed with the results that will start showing on you! - 11/6/2009   1:12:16 AM
  • 118
    I have 4 of Leslies DVDs I love them all, and highly recommend them to everyone. You can buy them in the back by the Exercise equipment at Walmart, sometimes at Costco and even Online at her website. Try your local library too.
    If you have Netflix, you may want to try one or several before buying one.
    You'll be glad you did :) - 11/5/2009   11:31:50 PM
  • 117
    Her videos are what got me sweating early on in my journey. Though I've moved on to incorporate other activities walking or boosted walking is still a good foundation. Love that you can do it anywhere! - 11/5/2009   11:22:12 PM
  • 116
    I just heard of Leslie not too long ago went looking for her DVD's. I guess I haven't looked in the right places yet as I haven't found them anywhere so far. I will keep looking though. - 11/5/2009   10:33:48 PM
  • 115
    I have access to Leslie's dvds through my cable company. I love the 3 mile walk. - 11/5/2009   8:01:59 PM
  • 114
    I love Leslie and her CDs. I have two of them a fast 3 mile with bands to work out the arms and a fast 4. They are so much fun and a real work out! You can do these no matter what your level is. - 11/5/2009   8:00:54 PM
  • 113
    I did buy one, and to this day, it is still wrapped in the shrink wrap. After reading these testimonials, I'll be taking it out of the wrapper, that's for sure. Thanks for peaking my interest. - 11/5/2009   7:52:19 PM
  • 112
    I LOVE Leslie's videos!!!! Back in 2007 when I weighed about 207 pounds, I tried Leslie's WATP 1,2 and 3 mile DVDs and with her help, I lost over 20 pounds!!! Over 2 years later, I STILL use her workouts as "Active Recovery," an early-morning pick-me-up when I don't quite have it in me to hit the gym, or when it's just too dangerous to drive to the gym.

    She changed my body and my mindset.

    Thanks SO MUCH for posting this interview!!! - 11/5/2009   6:25:12 PM
  • 111
    I've only completed one of Leslie's 1 mile walk DVD's one time. It was too easy for my fitness level and I didn't give any others a try. I am interested in trying a 3-5 mile walk, though! After reading this interview, my faith in walking as an effective exercise routine has gone up! - 11/5/2009   5:59:43 PM
  • 110
    I was given the Walk Away the Pounds DVDs from a friend and I love them. They are loaded on my laptop and I use them when I travel. Having two small children I am not able to utilize the fitness centers in the hotels, but there is always space in the room for one of these workouts and the stretchy bands- how easy are those to pack! - 11/5/2009   4:13:21 PM
  • 109
    Leslie has always been my favorite, I have quite a few of her dvd's and tapes and am always interested in what she has to say. She's motivation!! - 11/5/2009   2:05:16 PM
    Great motivation! - 11/5/2009   1:51:56 PM
  • 107
    About two years ago, WALKING is where my fitness and new lifestyle started.....5 minutes @ 1.5mph!! OMG!! I warm up at a faster mph now!! I still consider walking as one of the basic parts of my fitness and now that winter is on it's way to Michigan, I'll start using Leslie's DVD again -- inside where it's warm!!! - 11/5/2009   1:28:18 PM
  • 106
    I have the Walk Away the Pounds tape. I do it in rotation with other exercise programs when the weather is not suitable for me to exercise outdoors. - 11/5/2009   1:12:58 PM
  • 105
    My sister found Leslie's WATP Express DVD for me right after I had my gastric bypass surgery. I knew I needed something to help me get moving, and it was perfect! I could soon do the 1 mile, and then progressed to the two mile walk. I lost 210 lbs! Now I sometimes do both the 1 and 2 mile walks if I want to work harder that day. I still like walking out in the real world, but if the weather is bad, this is still my go-to workout DVD! Thank you, Leslie! - 11/5/2009   12:25:33 PM
  • 104
    I have the Leslie Walk Away the Pounds for Abs 1-2-3 mile dvd. I do all three of them at different times during the week. I am also doing here 13 week challenge. I am doing the Walk Away A meal challenge also.

    Thank you CN for the interview with Leslie. She is helping so many of us 64 and over with the dvd she has out for walking.

    Thanks again - 11/5/2009   12:22:02 PM
  • TRISHC50
    I have Leslie's 3 mile walk video and find it to be a great work out. Thanks for the interview. - 11/5/2009   12:00:02 PM
  • FURL63
    I am going to start doing Leslie's walk video again--they were very motivating and I felt great after I did them. I just bought her new DVD and plan on using that at home. There is a group from work who do the Leslie Sansone DVD series and they love them too. Time for me to join the group again.... - 11/5/2009   11:15:27 AM
  • 101
    I've used Leslie DVD's for years as a part of my exercise program! Thank you, Leslie!!! - 11/5/2009   10:42:19 AM
  • 100
    I do not like to exercise, however, I love my walk away the pounds videos! My husband and I are doing the first 2 miles of the 3 mile super fat burner right now and getting back into a routine. Thank you for sharing this interview!! - 11/5/2009   10:29:20 AM
  • 99
    I love walking with Leslie. Her spirited, optimistic attitude is so inspiring to me! When I was overweight by more than 140 lbs., her Walk Away the Pounds DVDs were the only exercises I could do without feeling like a total klutz. I can't tell you how encouraging that was to me at that time as a non-exerciser. I've now lost 50 of those pounds, and I owe a lot of my progress to Leslie. She makes me feel like I can do anything! My activity has been slowed down a bit while I heal from a knee problem (cartilage wear and tear/arthritis), but I'm still using her DVDs to keep me moving. Leslie, I can't thank you enough! - 11/5/2009   10:03:47 AM
  • 98
    Some of my DVDs of LESLIE'S have music only. I watch the DVDs while catching up on soap operas....the Soap Opera Diet...lol. I use several different DVDs of hers every day. Usually at least a combination to equal 6 miles. I fell when walking outside and so now just walk in the house for aerobic walking. I tell everyone about the Walk at Home videos...I've lost 75 pounds so far mainly using the walking DVDs!!! SparkPeople has been my support system so I stay on track. What a wonderful combination to lose weight!!! - 11/5/2009   9:51:49 AM
    I am just starting to do something about my weight and fitness is a large part of what I think is going to help me. But as with a lot of very busy people the excuse is not having enough time...and a lack of motivation if I am truly honest so I am going to make an effort to walk every day even if it is just for 5 minutes to start. I think by doing that maybe it will turn into a habit and I will feel good about myself. - 11/5/2009   9:34:32 AM
  • 96
    I have been using Leslie Sansone's DVD for several years and have about 6 of them, maybe more. I started out with the 4 mile tape but my favorite is the 2 1/2 mile walk/jog. She is wonderful at inspiring and encouraging everyone. Would highly recommend any of her DVD's. - 11/5/2009   8:54:16 AM
  • 95
    I also love Leslie. I have about 5 of her videos but use her 3 mile Weight Loss Walk most days as it also has some strength training with light weights and her fast start 2 mile walk when I don't want to do as long.. I love her enthusiasm..
    They work well for me as our weather is lousy 6 months of the year and I can't get outside to walk so hopefully this will keep me from gaining weight over the winter. - 11/5/2009   8:51:45 AM
    I love Leslie! She is my all time favorite trainer. I walk with Leslie all the time! - 11/5/2009   8:26:57 AM

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