‘New You’: Hiking group comes together to embrace outdoors, connection, inclusion

Meet the empowering women behind ‘SA Plus Sized Women Hiking’

SAN ANTONIO – Throughout this ‘New You’ series, we’ve shown you ways you can get healthy and active. That idea may have led me to find ‘San Antonio Plus Sized Women Hiking,’ but as I met them for a hike at Eisenhower Park, I quickly learned this group is much more than that.

For most of these women, it’s more of a social group than anything else -- just time to bond with like-minded women.

“I do this primarily to socialize. Getting active is just like a byproduct,” said hike leader Kristina Dim.

Dim moved to San Antonio a few years ago from Alaska where she first found a love for hiking and the outdoors. Upon the move, she knew she wanted to join a hiking group to keep that hobby growing. But she never knew she’d find a group so welcoming and inclusive.

“It was a lifeline for me because I’m retired. So I didn’t have any way to socialize. And the fact that this hiking group is just a group of ladies meant that I could really just kind of open up and be myself,” Dim said.

Maricruz Zarate is the founder of the group, who created it with one mission in mind.

“We are body positive and inclusive to all women, no matter the size. We focus on movement and community while encouraging ladies who join us to step out of their comfort zones. We are NOT about weight loss but about having fun in the body you are in,” Zarate emphasized. “We believe you belong outside in the body you have now and you don’t have to alter anything about yourself to feel the goodness that nature wants to reveal to you.”

According to my fitness tracker, we trekked 3.5 miles in two hours at what Dim referred to as “a nature-admiring pace”.

Every now and then someone would point out a certain plant or spider web sighting. We’d slow down to make sure everyone was still with us or stop for water and a few selfies and photo ops.

“It’s not a power workout-- it feeds all the senses,” said Dim. “We want to encourage people to learn to love the outdoors. It’s not a race. We’re not in competition. We just like to get together, enjoy each other’s company.”

I got to talking to these women on the trails as they vented about work, planned their next game night, shared their bucket lists and reminisced on past hikes. About a half a mile in, it was clear-- this was a community on and off the trails.

“Hiking is obviously the core and the foundation of what we do, but that branches off into other things,” said Tiffany Patterson, the official second member of the group.

Tiffany has always been pretty active in the gym but said the weekend is her time to get outside and be with other people.

She and the group not only hit the local trails but also travel across Texas to different state parks, even doing night hikes, testing out swimming holes, and camping.

Patterson said they were intentional in including ‘plus sized’ in the name of the group in hopes that it would make all women feel welcome.

“We have women of all sizes, age ranges. There’s really a mix of abilities within our group. You don’t have to have tons of hiking experience or be at a certain fitness level,” she said.

The group and their hikes are free. You can keep up with their outings on meet up.

About the Author:

Alyssa Medina is the Video-On-Demand Producer and has worked at KSAT since 2016. She creates exclusive content for the KSAT-TV streaming app. Some of her most notable contributions focus on race and culture or health and wellness. She's created the segments 'Creating Black History in S.A.' and 'New Week. New You."