Monday, December 01, 2008


A personal review of "The Ultimate Nordic Pole Walking Book"

Firstly, can I confirm that this review is entirely spontaneous, personal and independent. I have no connections whatsoever with either the author or publisher and my account is offered in the spirit of information and opinion sharing.


A few facts and figures about the book:-

Published in paperback, the ISBN number is: 978-1-84126-252-9
Published by Meyer and Meyer Sport

The colophon in the UK version suggests that the book was first published in 2009(!!) by Meyer and Meyer. The Amazon US site tells us it was October 2008. The book, which is paperback, contains 181 pages and measures 23cm by 16 cm, or thereabouts, on face. The cost (Amazon) is 9.99 GBP or 12.21 US dollars, which appears to be an “offer” price. As far as I am aware, it is published in English only.

The author, Dr Klaus D Schwanbeck, originates from Germany and holds a list of impressive qualifications and, amongst other things, has been Germany’s National Track and Field head coach. He is currently president and CEO of Nordic Pole Walking USA LLC, which is based in Florida, USA.


The book is well set out, easy to read and lavishly illustrated. I very much liked the fact that the “people pictures” were by and large ordinary folk instead of the usual young glamorous model types who have probably never picked up a Nordic pole prior to the photo shoot! The book contains a good balance in this respect.

There is one particular “odd” claim (or at least it seems to me) in that the author asserts that …..“In the USA, Nordic Pole Walking is rapidly gaining in popularity – spreading from Naples, Florida all over the country.” Any comments from the US are most welcome!

It’s also interesting to note that the author uses the term Nordic Pole Walking which is also the choice of Marko Kanteneva. However, I could not find any explanation for the departure from, simply, “Nordic Walking”.

The book focuses exclusively on the European Method Nordic Walking (my terminology) and does not touch on the other main technique, Exerstriding ™. At least, in the brief chapter on history there is a tribute to Tom Rutlin, although we are led to think that Nordic Walking as such did not happen until 1997 in Finland! I have no problems with a book about the European Method, but I do wish that some fuller thought had been given to establishing the broader historical picture.

Whilst the book’s main thrust is walking for health and fitness there are a number of programmes to suit those who seek “performance” based outcomes. That’s great but I just wish the author had not liberally used the word sport throughout the book. You might think “what’s the harm?” I freely admit that this is a personal “bee in the bonnet” about which I have elaborated previously in the pages of Nordic Walking News. Whilst it might seem quite innocent, I feel that it can be counterproductive – I will say no more here.

The section on technique shows us the core “cross crawl” method only. There is no mention of how to manage steep ground, nor any additional procedures to “up the ante”, such as double poling, skipping or bounding. The technique shown seems to embody the “extended arm, pump handle” practice although there is no explanation of the bio-mechanical actions involved. The novice walker is warned about the risk of over-striding, which is good.

There is an excellent raft of exercises with poles, including range of motion, plus stretching and strengthening procedures. There are a number I have not seen before and I am tempted to include them in my own praxis (provided it’s not blowing a gale or freezing cold! They look fine when practised in balmy Florida!)

Whilst I found the chapter on equipment and clothing a bit thin, there are however, some excellent chapters on health related matters, as follows:-

Nutrition and weight loss
Cardio-pulmonary issues
High blood pressure problems
Healthy veins
Stress management

With the exception of the chapter on “stress management” I found the content of these chapters just right. There is plenty of technical explanation (although not dryly presented) plus charts and “self tests”. As a lay person I found it very helpful to have all of this kind of material brought together. I’m sure that experts may well dispute some of the conclusions, which is what they do, but I found it all very persuasive.

The final section of the book contains a “fitness calculator” plus a comprehensive range of training plans. I have to admit to being a bit of a mug for this kind of stuff so I look forward to sitting around the fire filling in the boxes! The closing pages touch on frequently asked questions, research sources and details about the author.

On balance I enjoyed the read and will certainly refer to it again with regard to health matters and programmes. For the newcomer, the chapter on technique looked fine and will be helped by the DVD (available separately) or the online video. Of course, none of these media will provide feed back and therefore, in my view, can never replace the guidance of a good teacher. Having said that, I’m happy I bought it.

Malcolm Jarvis, Nordic Walker Leeds UK

I haven't seen the book myself yet, so this comment is general. Writers(print, online) on a singl subject have to pick one name. After wrestling with various combinations, I picked Nordic Walking (both words capitalized). Schwanbeck made another choice.

As for the greatly increasing popularity of Nordic Walking, whether from Naples or elsewhere, we could only wish for a groundswell of interest. I am confident that it will happen, but so far, growth has been slow.

The reason I am confident is that it is inexpensive, easy to learn, easy on the budget and fits many people's needs and desires -- a perfect combination for this recessionary time. When I wrote the first edition of a snowshoeing trails guide a decade ago, there were more cross-country skiers than snowshoers on Colorado winter trails. Now it is just the opposite, and my guide, now in its third edition with a fourth planned, reflects that. I am confident that Nordic Walking, Nordic Pole Walking, Exerstriding, SkiWalking, Urban Walking, Urban Pole Walking, Balance Walking, et al. will eventually click in and experience comparable growth in the US.

Claire @
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