Monday and Wednesday nights when the temperature is more than 40 degrees, they take control of the downtown sidewalks.
They're not skateboard punks. They're not rollerblade enthusiasts.
They're cross trainers.
And they walk.
"Walking not only provides a good workout, but we get outside and everybody gets to socialize," said Debbie Rector, instructor of the Lawrence parks and recreation department's cross-training class.
The group meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Community Building, 115 W. 11th.
Cross training differs from aerobics, Rector explained. Aerobics concentrates on improving the cardiovascular system. Cross training incorporates three elements: aerobics, muscle toning and flexibility.
THE CLASS concentrates on the aerobic component twice a week and works on muscle toning and flexibility once a week, Rector said.
Cross training is more appealing to a variety of age groups, she noted. Her class has grown to about 40 people from an initial membership of 10 three years ago, and its members range in age from 20 to 60.
Walking actually speedwalking is a better definition provides the aerobic element in Rector's class. It is less intimidating than traditional aerobics, she said, and walking gets people in shape while it builds their confidence.
Class members, some carrying weights, walk a half-block from the Community Building to Massachusetts Street, where they head north. Because the goal of the aerobic workout is to keep the heart rate at a target level, when class members run into a red light, they must keep walking back south or west until the light turns green. The class crosses to the east sidewalk when they reach Sixth Street and turn back south.
DURING DAYLIGHT-saving when the sun stays up longer, the class walks to the Kansas University campus, Rector said.
When the temperature drops lower than 40 degrees, the class stays inside to perform more traditional aerobics. But even Rector's traditional aerobics workout is not intimidating, she said.
"A lot of people have a preconception that aerobics means jumping around a lot to difficult steps," she said. "We have free-form aerobics here. They don't have to know any steps."
That suits Phil Minkin, 825 Ind.
"She doesn't care if we're Rockettes or not," he said. Minkin, who joined the class in September, said he liked the variety of excercises the class offered.
"I have an excercise bike and go swimming a lot," he said. "This was just one more way to get some excercise."
BRAD BOND, Eudora, who joined the class at the beginning of January, said he was using the sessions to prepare for a date with some Kansas University alumni.
"I joined because I want to play rugby for the Grayhawks in Austin this May," he said. "I like it and enjoy it. It's better than running."
Athletes have used cross training as a method to get into shape for many years, Rector said, but public classes only recently have gained widespread popularity.
Rector for 12 years has participated in aerobics, first as a student and later a teacher. "As more and more information about health-related issues comes out more and more people see the appeal of cross training," she said.
Obie Oberhart, 1713 Ohio, saw cross training as a way to replace cigarette smoking, a habit he kicked in November 1990 after 15 years.
"I joined the class for the first time last summer, and I've joined each semester since then," he said. "I like the fact that it's not just an aerobics class. The workouts have really improved my lungs. They just feel a lot clearer since I quit smoking and started exercising."