Athletic-inspired shoes from Johnston & Murphy at SouthPark Mall. 

Athletic-inspired shoes from Johnston & Murphy at SouthPark Mall. 

Spring in Charlotte is a beautiful thing to behold. But some days it seems best to view the gorgeous weather while you’re inside looking out thanks to all the pollen.

Allergies are just one of the reasons people turn to exercising indoors this time of year. If you want to put some pep in your step no matter what the weather is like outside, there’s a free indoor place to exercise that’s definitely not your average gym: SouthPark Mall.

Starting at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday, people begin showing up to walk the mall’s corridors at their own pace in the quiet time before all the stores open at 10 a.m. On Sundays, the hours switch to 8 a.m. before the stores open at 12:30 p.m.

Nicole Kennon, Director of Marketing and Business Development for SouthPark Mall, told us that usually around 30 mall walkers turn up in the mornings.  “It’s open to anyone, but what we find is that it’s mainly seniors and young mothers with strollers,” she said. “We see an influx this time of year and when it rains."

Wearing casual clothes and sneakers, the walkers arrive alone or in small groups. All of them definitely have the chance to meet their daily exercise quota since the mall is the largest in the Carolinas.

The only advice Kennon has for newbies is to remember that since all the stores are closed the only way to get in is through one of the mall’s main entrances. Security guards start opening the entrance to the front of the mall that faces Sharon Road first then work their way around to the other main entrances.

Kennon has gotten to know some of the regular walkers over the years since she sees them in the mornings on the way to her office. “It’s fun to see how much they enjoy it and how some really use it as a time to socialize” she said. “Some of them time it so after they’ve finished walking they can stay and have coffee or they’ll shop and have an early lunch."