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

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?