How Joanna Hall’s WalkActive programme put a spring in our step

March 28, 2023

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

Last week I organised a WalkActive workshop with creator and founder, Joanna Hall. We all think we can walk as we have been doing it since we were about 14 months old. However, how many of us are doing it properly? Or let me put it another way, how many of us have joint niggles or are facing hip or knee replacement surgery.

Walking is Living because, without it, our world becomes so small. Tell someone they won’t be able to walk any more, and the mental effects are overwhelming. I find more and more that when I need a break to relax, I go walking. However, I knew that I was not walking correctly. I have lower back pain, and I have had a few feet issues in the past. Having read all of WalkActive Programme’s glowing testimonials, I wanted to learn more. So following a phone chat with Joanna Hall, the creator and founder of WalkActive, I decided an in-person tutorial was best for me.

I persuaded nine friends to join me on a WalkActive workshop with Joanna to get a broader view of the programme. We met on a grey, damp Monday morning. At that point, I looked around the group and thought some of my friends looked sceptical and had only signed up to support me. But very soon, the effervescent Joanna had won them over, not just with her enthusiasm for the programme but with her science-backed knowledge and the easy way she explained it all. Joanna, a sports scientist, has over twenty-five years of experience in the global fitness industry; she is an internationally acclaimed walking, fitness and wellbeing expert. Read more about Joanna Hall HERE.


What is WalkActive?

Joanna Hall’s WalkActive programme is a holistic approach to walking that aims to improve posture, alignment, and movement patterns for overall health and fitness.

The WalkActive programme suits all ages and anyone looking to improve their fitness, lose weight, or alleviate joint pain. It is also a great option for people who want to incorporate more physical activity into their daily routine but may not be able to participate in high-impact activities like running or aerobics but perhaps want to increase their walking speed.

It is especially beneficial for those who spend a lot of time sitting or standing in one position, as it helps to counteract the negative effects of sedentary lifestyles. By teaching participants how to engage their muscles, align their bodies, and control their movements, WalkActive helps to improve balance and stability, reduce joint pain, and increase overall strength and flexibility.

What does it involve?

There are four areas of focus – feet, hips, head and shoulders, and arms.

One of the unique aspects of the WalkActive programme is its focus on the feet. The feet are the foundation of movement, and the programme includes exercises to improve foot strength and flexibility. These exercises can help prevent common foot problems like plantar fasciitis and improve overall balance and stability. Joanna teaches her ‘Feel the Peel’ method, which makes you use every part of your foot, a movement your foot is made for.

Next, Joanna focuses on the hips. This is the area that I need to work on. In simplistic terms, she wants us to lift our hips so that we are not slumped, thus giving our diaphragm more space and enabling deep breaths. I started to experience pain in my lower back, and Joanna immediately identified the problem. I was leaning back slightly, causing compression in my lower back. By adjusting my stance, a few millimetres relieved this pain immediately. I now have to remember this when walking; gradually, it will become my norm.

Another key principle of WalkActive is the idea of “spinal stacking.” This involves aligning the spine to be straight and balanced, with the head, shoulders, and hips all in line. By doing so, the body is better able to distribute weight evenly. This reduces the risk of injury and improves overall posture. As with the hips, the core muscles are engaged by keeping everything aligned. This helps support the spine and promotes good posture.

The final aspect of WalkActive is the use of arm swing. Joanna teaches participants how to swing their arms in a coordinated way. This helps to maintain balance and stability while walking. By keeping the arms relaxed and swinging naturally, walkers are able to use their upper body to support their lower body. This reduces the strain on the legs and feet.

How can you access this programme?

The programme offers both online and in-person coaching options. Online coaching includes video tutorials, a workout plan, and access to a private group for support and accountability. In-person coaching includes a comprehensive assessment of posture, alignment, and walking mechanics, followed by personalised sessions to address individual needs and goals. Click HERE for the WalkActive website to find out more. For more info on the app, click HERE.

There is free mini-taster course with 10 step-by-step guides if you download the app. You can then make up your mind before committing.

If you decide to sign up, it is £19.99 per month or £119.99 for an annual membership. Once you have signed up, there are many video and audio instruction courses. Plus, there is a Community where you can share your experiences and get advice on any queries. It also tracks all of your completed tasks, showing how much you have achieved. It really does inspire you to do all the courses.


In addition to improving physical health, WalkActive has mental and emotional benefits. The programme emphasises the importance of mindfulness and being present in the moment while walking. Participants are encouraged to focus on their breath, movements, and surroundings, and they become so immersed it becomes similar to a moving meditation. Walking becomes very beneficial me-time.


By the end of our two-hour tutorial, completing Joanna’s exercises, we all set off on a walk under her watchful eye. I looked around, and everyone was walking taller. No more bending forwards; our arms were moving freely, our strides were longer, and our pace had increased.

Of course, this does not mean we are all cured of our bad habits. Simply put, we are now aware of them but know what we should be doing. I am doing 3 x 10-minute practices every day so that eventually, this way of walking becomes second nature.

I signed up for the WalkActive app and am enjoying a 12-day audio tuition through my air pods as I walk. Walking in this way has become a joy as I know how much good it is doing for me. I am also much more aware of my surroundings and breathing more deeply. I feel invigorated rather than exhausted by the end of a walk.

Here are some of the comments from my fellow participants:

“Joanna significantly improved our stride action giving us take-home memory prompts which I used to practise the next day. All while having fun!”

“Watching Joanna walk correctly is inspirational. By splitting it into four different areas of the body it made it easier to understand how she achieved that. I can feel the difference already.”

“Definitely helped me to control my breathing and therefore, walking is so much more enjoyable.”

“It was most instructive to learn how to walk most effectively for health and well-being rather than the bad habits one unconsciously develops. A positive experience.”

“It’s taught me to walk tall from my toes up (and along the way to open my lungs and breathe).”

“A very practical course: feet on…”

“I am looking up and taking bigger strides and feeling healthier.”

For the Joanna Hall WalkActive website, click HERE.

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