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Local walking group inspires community wellness

Guy Hazlewood    April 30, 2024    2 min read   

Local Springfield resident John Sinisa created the Lions Den walking group in 2016 which has since become more than just a fitness routine for himself and the locals.

What started as a personal journey for weight loss has blossomed into a movement that encourages everyone to step out, take a stroll, and connect with others.

“When I started the group, I was around 250 kilograms, and my doctor said I have to start doing something or I will die young,” John said.

“Now I’m under 200 kilograms and it has just been due to the consistency of the walks, and the journey.”

John Sinisa on one of his daily walks. Source: John Sinisa

John’s journey didn’t just transform his weight and mindset; it ignited a spark in the community.

“I put a post out on Facebook to the wider community and before I knew it I had over 3000 members,” he said.

The response was overwhelming to John’s post, in which he shared his battles with weight, a heart condition, albinism and a vision impairment resonating with many, especially those facing similar health challenges.

“A lot of people were encouraged by just my simple walks in the morning,” he said.

“Even though I have these disabilities, I still have my drive which gives me the ability to conquer the daily walks.”

For John, it’s not just about physical health – it’s about fostering a supportive community.

“It’s an everyday thing. Not just for today, next week, next year,” he said.

John formed the Lions Den, a group focused on wellness, and support and where people can come to and be involved in the walks.

“With the cost of living at the moment, some people cannot afford gym memberships,” John said.

“Walking is not hard and it’s free. And you get to meet new people, make new friends.”

The Lions Den has now expanded beyond Springfield’s borders, with groups forming in Auckland and Dunedin in New Zealand, and a masters rugby league team which John created.

“It’s all about initiating it,” John said.

“It starts with getting out of bed and making that first step and that first move.”

John and Yvett Sinisa. Source: John Sinisa

To join the movement, visit the Lions Den Springfield Lakes page on Facebook.

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Guy Hazlewood