After what felt like a lifetime of desk jobs, the year 2000 brought a new millennium and a fresh start for DAC member Tyler Burgess. Sparked by a passion for fitness and a desire for change, Tyler’s business, Walk with Me, has grown over the past 17 years from walking classes and marathon training to custom, international walking tours.
Always a fitness enthusiast, Tyler got her feet wet by calling up the University of Oregon and simply offering to teach fitness walking classes. She continued to lead classes at the University of Oregon and Lane Community College while developing her own marathon training group.
“I wanted to target women my age who love to go out and walk, and of course it’s also about the talking,” she said, laughing.
While leading the walking groups around town, Tyler compiled a series of walking routes. She illustrated them and turned them into a book, Eugene Oregon Walks. The book features common and not so common neighborhood routes, all showcasing the beauty of Eugene.
“I like to encourage people to go into areas and neighborhoods they haven’t been to before. People always say, ‘I’ve lived here my whole life and even I don’t know where I am.’ “
What started as a single book about her town has developed into a series including: Seattle, the southern California coast and Portland, as well as Siena, Italy and Quito, Ecuador. This year she debuted calendars to go along with the Eugene and Seattle guidebooks. Tyler is driven by the idea of getting others outside and moving, sharing what brings her so much joy.
Tyler found that her training groups were mostly retirees. When a couple of women in her first training group shared that they had completed a walking tour across England, the group asked Tyler to plan a similar tour for them.
She had very few airline miles under her belt – she had never traveled internationally and rarely traveled domestically. To Tyler’s surprise, 12 people signed up to walk with her 200 miles across England. The bigger shock came when, not even halfway through the tour, someone in the group asked, “Where are you taking us next?” To which, Tyler responded, “Where do you want to go?”
Walk with Me has taken Tyler across England five times now. She’s also led trips in Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Spain, Morocco and Ecuador. The tours are all custom – she creates them based on an individual’s request. Tyler’s tours wind the countryside using pilgrim paths, away from the stress of crowds and tourists.
“It’s a whole different experience where you are out there seeing all the sheep and gardens. You talk to the farmers along the way and stay at farmhouses that cater to hikers,” she explained.
Outside of her guided tours, Tyler continues to travel solo, going as far as New Zealand, Tasmania and Australia. This is the first year she hasn’t led any training programs because she has been traveling so much. This month, Tyler is headed to Sweden for a two week guided tour before starting a personal hike across France over the Pyrenees – 600 miles. She anticipates this hike taking seven or eight weeks.
To stay in shape, Tyler is at the DAC almost every day. She joined 19 years ago when she moved to downtown Eugene. Some might wonder why someone as active in the outdoors as Tyler is at an athletic club. Tyler says, “The DAC gives me the strength and weight training to be strong for my walks and for my traveling.” When she’s not lifting weights, swimming, practicing yoga or sampling one of the other Group X classes, Tyler enjoys sitting in the lobby with her friends, “solving all the world’s problems.”
You can follow along with Tyler’s travels on her blog, walkwithmetylerburgess.blogspot.com, where she posts beautiful illustrated entries in the style of her guidebooks. Her walking guidebooks are available on Amazon and in local booksellers.