Risa Olinsky joined FreeWalkers in 2010 on a dare to walk 50 miles in one day. While completing only 11 miles that day, Risa was immediately hooked long-distance walking and has logged hundreds of miles since then. Risa is a certified health coach, personal trainer and group fitness leader with the American Council on Exercise. (ACE). She holds a Master’s degree in Adult Fitness Management from NYU and wellness-coaching certification with Wellcoaches Corporation. She has designed wellness programs for the JCC Association of North America and Atlantic Health.
Being a proud resident of Maplewood, Risa once wrote for “The Local”, a New York Times hyper-local blog. Risa’s current business “Count on Yourself Coaching” offers wellness coaching, fitness consulting services and motivational speaking engagements, with programs for individuals, groups, medical centers and corporations.
Risa is a founder of the community walking group SOMa on Foot (South Orange, Maplewood) and co-creator of Maplewood’s award-winning “Mayor’s Wellness Campaign”. She is a past recipient of the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year Award” (2014) and honored as a “Maple Leaf Award” recipient for her continued involvement in health activities benefitting her community. Risa is married to Mark Olinsky, an attorney and avid cyclist. They have two sons, Benjamin and Daniel; now living their own active lifestyles.
Why I walk...
“Walking is incredible therapy, both physically and mentally. I walk because I can; and if the day comes that I can’t, I’ll be truly grateful I did, while I could.”
While Al Walker has always walked to a degree, at his 47 birthday he started stepping it up. He was haunted by a history of heart disease in the family and a desire to live the rest of his life fully, Over the past eleven years he has carried a pedometer and calculates he has taken over 90.7 million steps! Al is now one of our healthiest, strongest and fastest walkers we know.
Al enjoyed a successful career in health care management and helped create health plans in 34 markets for The Prudential around the country. He later formed PMC Consulting and assisted dozens of health plans and provider organizations manage change over the last 20+ years. Al has taken on most executive roles (CEO, COO, CFO and CIO) at various stages in his career. He has also helped many non-profits grow and succeed.
As Al likes to put it, “I’ve been ‘A. Walker’ since birth,” validating the fact that this comes naturally for him. Semi-retired now, Al can be found clocking over 10 miles walking each day. He is a graduate of Rutgers and currently lives in Bedminster, NJ and Hardeeville, SC.
Why I walk...
"There are many reasons, but one of the most important is to be around to enjoy his family. Some of his most important steps have been just a few dozen – walking his two daughters up the aisle at their weddings and walking with his two granddaughters the first time. Al walks to have more family milestone steps ahead."
David Ascher, a life-long cyclist, converted over the last five years to a long-distance walker after trying one of FreeWalkers challenging events. David has long been active in civic and charitable affairs, sharing his knowledge and wisdom on organizational matters. He has designed bike routes for the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure rides, and has been a Trustee of the Achieve Foundation of South Orange and Maplewood, a Member of the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education, Secretary of the NJ Committee of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, and Secretary of Congregation Beth El.
David is an attorney specializing in corporate law. His wife Joani, is a successful author of mystery novels. Both have been fostering Seeing Eye puppies for the last 20 years since their daughter, Shonna, got them hooked. David received a BA from the University of Buffalo, a Masters in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati, and a J.D. from the University of Buffalo School of Law.
Why I walk...
"Walking enables me to enjoy our beautiful natural environment while exercising, seeing things that one misses while driving, cycling, or running. To paraphrase Frank Zappa--good for your body, good for your mind, cucaracha."
Paul is the founder of FreeWalkers and is both an avid walker and cyclist. He sees unique and complementary benefits for practicing both. He believes the power of motivation and suggestion lead to the best results in fitness, regardless of an individual's age.
A technology specialist and software entrepreneur, he currently manages multiple websites and social networks, while writing and blogging about the history, pain, pleasure and benefits of extreme walking and public pedestrianism. (Distant Thoughts – Tumblr) and (Walking History – WordPress)
Paul is a graduate of Rutgers where he earned his MBA in Finance and spent most of his career at HSBC heading a technology center. More recently he organized several business ventures, including Morris Internet Group, specializing in local and state government software applications. Paul also has previous experience developing and serving on a non-profit board.
Paul started FreeWalkers in 2009 in search of alternative exercise for the larger population. He formed a successful partnership with the East Coast Greenway Alliance which led to hosting multiple long distance walks in the unique open style of FreeWalkers. Paul’s vision is to grow and unite a larger community of walkers and to inspire other groups, such as children and seniors, to see the many benefits of walking.
Why I walk...
"I walk because nature invites us to. Walking is the most natural of exercises we can do.
I walk because I want to stay active. A healthy lifestyle begins with movement.
I walk because it makes me feel alive. Walking is an easy way of interacting directly with your environment and community."