Writer Charles Fleming had more than his fair share of health ailments, from two hip replacements to a broken leg, two spinal surgeries, and more. Even though he was told he needed it, Fleming declined a third spinal surgery and opted to try to mend himself by exercising.
He found that walking helped, so he started by going just a few blocks at a time and increased his distance as he grew stronger over time. He began walking public staircases in his neighborhood, then expanded to explore other neighborhoods as he built up his endurance on the stairs. His journey to healing led him to share his story in a book, which he titled “Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles.”
Fleming shares, “By then, I was cured. I’d been walking at least an hour a day for three years. I’d discovered more than 400 hidden staircases. I’d walked hundreds of miles mapping them. I’d started playing tennis again. I’d started riding motorcycles again. I’d taken up snowboarding.” He even invited a few friends to join him and organized a “monthly stair walk,” which grew in size and now attracts closer to 100 people each time.
But Fleming did more than get in shape and share his story: he inspired others and met some great people along the way. People shared with Fleming that he had helped them lose weight, gain self-confidence, avoid surgery, and even rekindle the love in their marriage. Fleming says, “All I’d wanted form the experience was relief from pain. What I got was friendship, community and a whole new experience of my city. Out of the car, on my feet and moving at pedestrian pace, I fell in love with Los Angeles for the first time.”