Lilian Kennedy talks the talk and quite literally walks the walk. She’s the founder of CLT Hot Girl Walk, an Instagram account and social group aimed at connecting women in Charlotte through monthly group walks.
“I’ve been here for six years, but every friendship I’ve ever made has been from a job,” Kennedy, a transplant from New York, told me recently over a phone interview.
Flashback: Without a physical office to go to during the pandemic, Kennedy found it difficult to sustain friendships. She knew the same had to be true for others, especially those new to Charlotte.
- So she set out to create a social group that promotes both mental health and networking.
- In August 2022, Charlotte Hot Girl Walk, or CLTHGW, was born.
Why it matters: A HGW aims to combine the mental/physical benefits of walking with the social benefit of doing so with others — all with a goal of connecting those seeking a community in Charlotte.
Context: The Hot Girl Walk, coined by Mia Lind on TikTok, has quickly become a popular form of exercise, especially among Gen Z and millennials.
- A HGW typically consists of a 3-4 mile walk, with a few essentials — think curated playlist and earbuds (if you’re going solo), a water bottle, a workout set and a safe environment.
- As Lind explained in a TikTok, everyone should think of three things during a HGW: What you’re grateful for, your goals (and how you’ll achieve them) and how hot you are (which is basically Gen Z speak for body positivity and self-acceptance).
Make no mistake: A true hot girl walk is a feeling — not a look.
Zoom in: Kennedy capitalized on this feeling to create CLTHGW, which she describes as “a simple exercise with potential mental and physical health benefits — all while making new friends.”
Turnout has steadily grown since the group’s first walk in August, which had only eight participants.
- In September, that turnout quadrupled.
- October’s walk saw nearly 50 women.
But Kennedy says when it comes to her goal for the group, the numbers are irrelevant. “My goal was simply to help other women, who are here alone, to meet other women, and that has happened every event.”
The big picture: Roughly 120 people move to Charlotte every day, Axios’ Laura Barrero wrote in May. And, as Laura pointed out, there are several resources in Charlotte for people looking to make new connections.
Zoom out: Local businesses have taken notice of the group’s success. At the September walk, Outdoor Voices brought free goodies and Hi-Wire Brewing covered the tab for post-walk beer.
- “I like there to be like some sort of food and beverage so the women can continue to mingle and get to know one another,” she said.
Who it’s for: Anyone living in Charlotte who wants to make more friends. And as Kennedy reminded me, despite its name, CLTHGW is gender-inclusive — everyone is welcome. She also encourages individuals to bring friends and expand their network.
What’s next: While Kennedy acknowledges that the group name is strategic from a marketing standpoint, she has plans to take CLTHGW beyond the walk. She’s already gotten started.
- Last Saturday, CLTHGW partnered with the personal training franchise, Send Me a Trainer, for a free yoga class, held at Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee in LoSo, who supplied their courtyard and discounted coffee.
For now, Kennedy says most events will be held in South End, given the convenient stretch of the Rail Trail.
How to join: The answer is pretty simple — just show up. But to stay informed on all the events, you’ll want to follow the group’s Instagram page: @clt_hotgirls.
November’s walk is currently planned for Thursday, Nov. 3, at 7pm. The group will meet outside of Outdoor Voices in South End before starting a brisk 1.5-mile walk on the Rail Trail. The meetup will end with drinks at Suffolk Punch.
- Kennedy also plans to host smaller, private events, like cryotherapy at The Invigory.
- But those, she says, will be reserved on a “first to DM, first served” basis.
The bottom line: CLTHGW aims to appeal to anyone looking to add more movement and friends into their lives — whether they’re a lifelong local or a Charlotte transplant.