Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Nordic Walking - Prozac on a Stick!

Like me, maybe you take most of your Nordic Walking sessions in your local park, or even on the streets of your home area. However, an extended walk in the great outdoors does much to revitalise your enthusiasm and motivation.

Of course, in the hills, walking is not an end in itself. The experience is holistic and provides a much deeper sense of well being than that brought about by exercise alone.

Imagine combining the invigorating benefits of Nordic Walking along with seeing big skies and being in a wonderful landscape. On our last outing my partner referred to the effect on her mood like having “Prozac on a stick” (or should it be pole?).

If you do wish to venture out into the wilds (relatively speaking) some additional thought and planning is needed, as even seemingly benign conditions can quickly turn into an unwanted struggle.

Firstly, be mindful that with Nordic Walking you expend more energy per mile than with walking without poles, even though it doesn’t really feel like it! This is one of the welcome features of the activity, but it can trap the unwary on long outings. There is nothing more tedious than having to carry your poles for the last hour because you have “over cooked” the early part of the outing.

Footwear and clothing also take on an extra dimension. This is a topic in itself and I hope to discuss this in future articles. Winter walking demands a special approach, but the following broad suggestions might be helpful for less demanding times of the year:

Spend at least as much on your shoes as you have your poles (apart from your poles, your shoes are the only thing in touch with the ground!). And do not forget about socks!

Wear lightweight functional clothing – avoid cotton like the plague (even for your base layer). Even in summer conditions, take a windproof top. In many ways, wind proofing is more important that waterproofing (although many modern garments using breathable fabrics can provide both functions).

If you prefer a sack to a bum bag, make sure you chose one suited for the action of Nordic walking. A bulky rucksack will impede movement so follow the practice of adventure racers in this respect and opt for a light, snug bag.

Don’t forget your safety items!

One last thought for now – four hours strapped to poles can give rise to soreness or blisters on your hands. Take some tape to protect any hot spots which may develop.

Malcolm Jarvis - Nordic Walker, Leeds England


Tuesday, March 11, 2008


So has Nordic Walking finally arrived in the UK!

Here in the UK, on yesterday's edition of the 'Weakest Link' - TV Quiz Show, known on both sides of the Atlantic for it's 'dry witted' and 'cutting remarks' presenter - Ann Robinson - The answer to one of the questions was Nordic Walking!

So has Nordic Walking finally arrived in the UK?


David Downer
Owner - Nordic Walking News Blog
Author -

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Nordic Walking UK Launch New 'Developmental Training Courses' for Instructors

Nordic Walking UK have just announced the launch of a range of 'Developmental Training Courses' for it's instructors. Courses include:

Safe Leadership in Low Land Terrain - For instructors wishing to take groups on longer more challenging routes. Instructors will learn navigational skills, learn to deal with emergency situations more confidently and effectively, and gain the knowledge to understand and fully use the terrains that fall within their remit as Nordic Walking instructors. This course may be useful for insurance purposes for instructors wishing to work with groups in this terrain. Instructors will also have the opportunity to complete their Bronze National Navigation Award Scheme.

Outdoor First Aid - Outdoor First Aid course designed especially for Nordic Walking and including CPR and emergency outdoor first aid. With instructors gaining 'Approved Person' status which is a Nationally recognised qualification. Again this may be useful for instructor insurance purposes.

Dyna-band Outdoors - Dynaband a well known name in 'fitness resistance bands', have teamed up with Nordic Walking UK to offer a 'resistance training' workout that combines Nordic Walking poles and Dynabands. A Nordic Walking pole is instantly turned into an 'exercise bar' by wrapping the ends of the Dyna band around it and the resistance is adjusted simply by wrapping or unwrapping the Dynaband.

Participants are able to do a whole range of exercises that you would ordinarly see in a gym eg chest press, arm curls, tricep extensions etc. In the promotional literature Nordic Walking UK make a point of saying the bands are not suitable for use with adjustable poles. I find this comment rather puzzling, as I have used resistance bands with my adjustable poles without any problem whatsoever. I don't see why an adjustable pole is any different to a one piece pole when it comes to combining it with a Dynaband.

Note: Dynaband Outdoors is only available to Nordic Walking instructors who have a level 2 fitness qualification or above or instructors with exercise based medical qualifications.

Ultimate Nordic - Sports Conditioning - This course is aimed at instructors who want to take Nordic Walking to the next level eg who want to work with fitter clients and sports teams focusing on endurance, power, strength, flexibility and speed.

Note: Ultimate Nordic - Sports Conditioning is only available to Nordic Walking instructors who have a level 2 fitness qualification or above

Sales & Marketing - This course is designed to ensure that instructors have a growing database of prospects and clients . It has been my observation for many a year that too many companies / organisations take money off of people to train them and then they send them out into the world ill prepared because most of those people have no or very little experience of marketing. Therefore they fail! So, well done NWUK for introducing a sales & marketing course.

NWUK have now trained over 400 people to become INWA (International Nordic Walking Association) instructors. That figure has risen from about 130 when I trained with them three years ago. So things are moving slowly but surely in the right direction here in the UK.

Through the efforts of Nordic Walking UK and it's instructors, 25 councils (local government authorities), primary care trusts and charities are now offering Nordic walking classes. Nordic Walking appears regularly in the UK media including newspapers, magazines, tv and radio and Nordic Walking UK have been instrumental in achieving this media success.

So watch out the UK! You will soon be hearing alot more about Nordic Walking. Also, in the not too distant future there will hopefully be a Nordic Walking instructor near you, offering some interesting new classes!

David Downer
Nordic Walking News Blog Owner
Author -

Saturday, March 08, 2008


How to make lots of money from your Nordic Walking classes!

So you are a newly certified Nordic Walking instructor. The easy bit is behind you. Now the reality sets in! How are you going to make lots of money from Nordic Walking? Well you can teach groups and individuals to Nordic Walk, that's straight forward enough, as long as you go out and market yourself properly. But how can you get people coming back week after week and pay you money?

[Note: If you are going to lead group 'exercise' classses, even if it is based around Nordic Walking as opposed to just teaching Nordic Walking, you should hold the appropriate certification eg a relevent exercise / fitness qulaification . You must also be insured to teach exercise / fitness classes, which is not the same as being insured to teach Nordic Walking!]

There are lots of people who want to get fit, keep fit, lose weight etc that are happy to come to an exercise class every week, sometime several times a week and pay money for the privilege! If you set your program up the right way, some people are even willing to pay a recurring monthly fee to 'be a member' of your 'club' and pay a joining fee on day one! So how can a Nordic Walking instructor with the appropriate exercise / fitness qualifications capitalize on this?

I was reading recently about someone here in the UK who runs popular 'outdoor fitness classes'. Members pay a one off joining fee of up to £50 (approx US$100) and then a membership fee of up to £46 a month (approx US$92) every month. For that they can attend as many classes a week as they want.

Obviously you need to offer enough classes eg you could hold an early morning class 5 days a week (Monday - Friday) eg: 6.30 am - 7.30 am to catch the early birds before they go to work.

You could hold mid morning classes aimed eg at mums (moms) and Seniors. Eg mums (moms) 10 am - 11 am and Seniors 11 am - 12 noon.

You could hold classes at eg 5.30 pm - 6.30 to catch the office workers on their way home and eg 7.00 - 8.00 to catch all those people who like to exercise once they have got the rest of the day out of the way.

As an alternative to the monthly fee (eg for people who wouldn't attend regularly enough to get value from a monthly membership) you can buy block of sessions eg:

10 sessions = up to £120 (approx US$240)
20 sessions = up to £180 (approx US$360).

Note: If I was offering 'blocks' I would include an expiry date eg: sessions must be used within 2 months of purchase. This way it encourages people to keep coming 'regularly' and not give up on their fitness goals eg because apathy sets in. Also you don't want people to pre-buy their training and then not get their money's worth because they quit.

Members can't 'pay per class' in the program I heard about but they do get a FREE first class, so they do get to 'try before they buy'. I would consider offering a 'pay per play' option at a premium price. This might encourage people to select either the monthly membership or purchase blocks of sessions. However, for some people eg those who can only attend occasionally they may prefer the 'pay per play' option, even at a premium. Classes take place in 'all' weather (within reason I guess) .

As the instructor, a point worth remembering is that because these classes are held in the great outdoors, generally there are no venue 'fees' to pay! So more profit for you!

Note: Before I started to charge people for Nordic Walking training which I proposed to run in my local 'government' authority owned park, I phoned them up to explain what I planned to do eg charge members of the public (who I sourced via my own marketing) for Nordic Walking training. They were more than happy that I was proposing to encourage people to use the park for outdoor leisure use. They did advise me that I should make sure that I am adequately insured, which I am.

So what about class format ? Well, anyone familiar with 'Aerobics' (exercise to music) classes will recognise the following:

Warm Up:

Pulse Raiser: A low intensity exercise routine to shake out the cobwebs, elevate the breathing, get the blood pumping a little harder and to warm the muscles in preparation for ROM stretches.
ROM (Range of Movement) Stretches: Once upon a time instructors would do the 'pulse raiser' and get everyone nice and warm and then they'd stand the class still for the next 5 minutes while everyone did static stretches and cooled down again! (yes I used to teach that way many moons ago before I knew any better). Nowadays most instructors use ROM stretches because it keeps everyone moving because ROM stretches involve continuous flowing movements into and then out of each of the stretched positions.

Aerobic Component:

A movement routine or series of movement routines to music, where the intensity increases to a peak before gradually reducing down again. The fitness level of the class members (in theory) dictates how gradual (or not) the build up in intensity is and how long the class work at higher intensity levels before the instructor brings the intensity back down again.

MSE (Muscular, Strength & Endurance)

A series of exercises such as squats, push ups, abdominal crunches etc sometimes incorporating equipment such as hand weights, resistance bands etc.

Post Exercise Stretch

This is the final part of the session where everyone generally lays down on the floor and then executes a series of held stretch positions, to lengthen out those tight muscles again. Some instructors take the opportunity to include 'developmental' stretching in this section.

Nordic Walking Class Format

‘Nordic Walking’ instructors can use a similar format as the aerobic (exercise to music) instructor, however you would replace the 'Aerobic' component with the 'Nordic Walking' component.

So what can you include in the Nordic Walking component that will make the class challenging, interesting and FUN and what sort of things can you do to increase the intensity of a Nordic Walking workout?

In the 'Aerobic' component of an exercise to music class, the ways that are used to increase the intensity of the workout include:

- Increase the speed of the music so everyone goes faster

- Increase the 'range of movement' of the exercises eg take bigger steps and use bigger arm actions.

- Add leaps and jumps

- Increase the length of time you work at a higher intensity and reduce the time you work at a lower intensity

In our Nordic Walking component we can increase intensity by:

- Increasing the speed we walk (this is not my first choice method by any means!).

- Slow the speed of walking - yes I do mean this but I will come back to it in a moment

- Push harder during poling

- Increase the range of movement of your arms during the poling action by focusing on the ‘push behind hip’ phase, the longer you are creating resistance as a result of each poling action, the harder the muscles are having to work – Therefore – Push harder for longer.

Note: This is where ‘Slow the speed of walking’ comes in because slowing down gives you the opportunity to push harder for longer. You can’t walk fast and push harder for ‘longer’ it just doesn't work like that! So, if eg you ordinarily walk at a 15 minute mile pace, slow down to about 17 or 18 minute mile pace and ‘push harder for longer.

- Plant your pole tips further forward so that the poles are more upright and see how this effects different muscle groups eg Abs!

- Increase your pole length (if you have adjustable poles of course) and combine this with the tip above eg 'plant your pole tips further forward'. Have the pole length adjusted so that when you plant your poles, the handles are at around chest height (when you arm is 'long' and in the 'hand shake' position) and see how this effects different muscle groups eg Lats!

- Double Poling: Instead of planting the poles alternately plant them both at the same time, usually on every second or third step (experiment with this one and see what works best for you).

- Run / Jog with your poles

- ‘Leaping’ / ‘bounding’ with your poles (Plyometric training)

- Do the 'Groucho Marx' Walk - Bent knee walking - Very tiring on the quads but does work them hard (particularly if you go uphill).

- Incorporate ‘skate jumps’ – this is the Nordic Walking version of cross country skiing (skating style). Obviously we have no ‘glide’ phase in Nordic Walking, so we replace the ‘glide’ phase with a ‘jump’. To do this, imagine you are ‘ice skating’ and as you push away through your left heel you ‘jump’ (instead of ‘glide’) to the right and as you push away through your right heel you ‘jump’ (instead of ‘glide’) to the left. Note: As you jump you push upwards through your pole.

- Incorporate ‘interval training’

- Incorporate ‘recovery intervals’ training where you reduce the recovery time after every interval.

- Incorporate hills

- Lengthen the session

- Do any / all of the above on sand!!!

Remember you can’t (or shouldn’t) keep a whole class working at a very high intensity right throughout the Nordic Walking component, so remember to consider ‘exercise intensity’ and build up to the higher intensity work and build back down again.

So that's the Nordic Walking component and now a few words about the other components of your class:

Pulse Raiser:

Start your class off by Nordic Walking at a basic level. Use the opportunity to give technique coaching and offer tips...

And / or... Use group exercises incorporating the use of the poles, like the 'choo choo train' etc that I'm sure you will have learned in your instructor training course. This is your opportunity to be creative!

ROM (Range of Movement) Stretches:

As an instructor you should already have a lroutine of ROM stretches which incorporate the use of the poles

Nordic Walking Component:

As discussed in this article

MSE (Muscular, Strength & Endurance)

An opportunity to be creative with the use of 'partner resistance training' exercises and / or 'resistance bands' both incorporating the use of the poles

Post Exercise Stretch

Use the post exercise stretching routines that you will have learned during your instructor training course which incorporate the use of the poles. It is always a good idea to include some 'developmental stretching' for relevant muscle groups.

I hope this article has been helpful to. If you incorporate any of these ideas, do post here to let me know how you get on...

David Downer

Monday, March 03, 2008


Unique Nordic Walking Poles for People with Limited Hand Strength

The benefits that "adjustable" Nordic Walking poles have over "one piece / fixed length" poles are widely known and much has been written about this in my various publications and of course elsewhere. However, for some people eg those with limited hand strength, the adjustment mechanism on these poles can sometimes present a problem. OK, most people probably have someone who can adjust / re-adjust them when required but how much better would it be if everyone was able to adjust their poles themselves?

This problem has now been addressed by Nordic Walking pioneer "Tom Rutlin" of “Exerstrider Nordic Walking". Exerstrider recently added the "Activator" model to their pole range. The "Activator" is primarily designed for physical therapists and other medical specialists who requested a locking mechanism on an adjustable pole that would work better for people with limited hand strength.

The "Activator" features a pop-button/hole adjusting system like that commonly used on canes and walkers and easily adjusts from 41” to 51” to fit users from approximately 4’-4” to 6’-1” (proper sizing should be determined according to your needs by a medical professional) .

Note: Because of the pop-button adjusting system this model is not as whisper quiet in use as the other "two-piece" poles in the "Exerstrider" range.

* If the poles are to be used primarily for balance, the Bell-Shaped balance tips are recommended and must be ordered as a separate accessory)

David Says:

“A feature of all "Exerstrider" poles is the 'strapless' design. Personally I believe that a strapless design comes into it's own when the user has "balance instability" issues, where it may not be such a good idea to be 'strapped into' poles because of the increased risk of falling.”

All "Exerstrider" pole purchases come complete with Tom Rutlin’s 5-star rated Exerstride Method Nordic Walking Instructional video (DVD or VHS tape) and printed Instruction Manual and User’s Guide (A $19.95 value if purchased separately!)

David Says:

"I have owned a pair of "Exerstrider" poles for the past two and a half years (OS2 - AT/S Fitness Trekker - all terrain, all season (adjustable) model and excellent quality poles they are too!"

With the launch of his "Activator" poles Tom Rutlin proves that after more than 20 years "in the game" he remains very much an 'innovator' within the Nordic Walking movement. "

Check out these poles on Tom Rutlin’s Exerstrider Website here:

David Downer
Owner / Editor - Nordic Walking News
Author -



Asylum Seeking Athlete Trains with Nordic Walking Poles and Wins US Marathon...

Ethiopian Tamrat Ayalew has overcomes political persecution including death threats and physical disabilities to win the Little Rock Marathon in the USA.

In his native Ethiopia Ayalew was shot in the leg, imprisoned and tortured on several occasions.

Ayalew has achieved his Marathon success with the help of "Foot Solutions", a world-wide foot care health and wellness company. Ayalew has severe supination of the feet (see note below) and credits his Marathon success to an interesting combination...

...Ayalew wears custom "Foot Solutions" orthotics which correct his severe suppination whilst part of his training regime involves using Nordic Walking Poles whilst wearing "Foot Solutions" uniquely patented Chung Shi shoes. Both the shoes and the poles help Ayalew build strength and stability in a non-stressful way.

"Foot Solutions" have a name for this slight twist on ordinary Nordic Walking, they call it Balance Walking - that is Nordic Walking whilst wearing their patented Chung Shi Shoes.
To find out more about Foot Solutions visit:
To read more on Tamrat Ayalew's success visit:
Note: A foot is in 'supination' when you appear to be standing on the outside edge of the foot. A degree of supination is natural particularly during the 'toe off' phase. However excessive pronation stretches the 'peroneals' (the stabilizer muscles on the outside of the lower leg), which can then lead to injury as it doesn't take much for the ankle to then roll over.

David Downer
Owner / Editor - Nordic Walking News
Author -


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