Thursday, May 07, 2009


An Exclusive Interview with INWA’s “North American" Representative Association

Here at Nordic Walking News and over at our sister publication Nordic Walking eCommunity (, we have in recent months reported on the positive restructuring at INWA (International Nordic Walking Association). Nordic Walking News is therefore delighted to have secured an 'exclusive' interview with INWA’s North American Representative Association which is publised here.

In the interview
David Downer is asking the questions on behalf of Nordic Walking News and Gary Johnson representing NWNA (Nordic Walking North America) is providing the answers.

The Interview:

David: "Hello
Gary, it’s great to talk to you and thank you for agreeing to this interview".

Gary: "My pleasure David and thank you for giving me the opportunity to showcase INWA's North American organization to your readers".

David: "So
Gary, who or what is Nordic Walking North America"?

Gary: "Nordic Walking North America is the INWA representative in North America ( USA & Canada ) and we offer full INWA certifications to instructors".

David: "Why INWA"?

Gary: "INWA is the International Nordic Walking Association, they are one of the oldest and largest Nordic Walking associations around and have played a key role in moving the activity of Nordic Walking forward on the worldwide stage. They are a non profit organization and have now re-dedicated themselves to be an ‘Educational Association’".

David: "That’s interesting; you say that INWA is non-profit"?

Gary: "Yes and I have been surprised by how many people didn’t know this. They did have a title sponsor for a long time in Exel, and Exel breathed life into the association in the beginning, so I think a lot of the confusion comes from that early and very tight association. Now times have changed, Nordic Walking is now a full-blown activity that can stand on its own two feet and Exel no longer needs to chaperone INWA. INWA is now ready to move on to being a truly educational association for the furtherment of the Nordic Walking activity".

David: "So who is actually behind Nordic Walking North America"?

Gary: "The President of Nordic Walking North America is Malin Svensson and I am the Vice President. Malin participated in the very first INWA convention in 2002 and is one of only four International Coaches for INWA and was instrumental in re-structuring INWA. She has written books on Nordic Walking and has been the International Coach in setting up Nordic Walking Programs in several other countries. I was a Reebok Master Trainer for 10 years and I am the owner of Kneedspeed the company that brought lateral movement training to the masses back in the early 90’s. Lateral movement training was sold to Reebok as Slide Reebok".

David: "That’s quite a pedigree. You mention that INWA has been re-structured, so how is INWA organized now"?

Gary: "All on INWA’s boards including the directors are made up of and voted on by the member organizations such as Nordic Waking North America. With the recent changes at INWA’s the length of time served by each position on the board has gone down and there is a rotation program in place. I think you will see some of the new blood flowing into INWA".

David: "How is Nordic Walking North America organized"?

Gary: "We will have several boards including Education, PR, Convention and others. These will be made up of members of NWNA and there will be certain seats that are reserved for ‘special members’ of the Nordic Walking community. NWNA can therefore reflect the full breadth of Nordic Walking throughout North America".

David: "How about education throughout
North America; how will that be organized"?

Gary: "Both Canada and the United States will be split into regions with at least 2 National Coaches per region, and then eventually we will have designated National Coaches per population region. As an example California is a large and densely enough populated state that it may eventually house 4 National Coaches. In the certified ranks below the National Coaches will be the Master Trainers, then Master Instructors, followed by Instructors".

David: "What certification opportunities are being offered by NWNA and how is your training program structured"?

Gary: "National Coaches are invited and have to complete two 2½ day trainings and pass a written and practical test. Certification will last two years and will be renewed by ‘continuing education’ or ‘re-certification’. Master Trainer will complete one 2½ day training. Master Instructor’s one 2 day training and Instructors one 2 day training. All certifications last for two years and can be renewed by ‘continuing education’ or by ‘re-certification’. Additionally all the certifications require the successful completion of both written and practical tests".

David: "Do you offer a membership scheme for members of the public"?

Gary: "INWA only includes its member organizations but NWNA will have a component for ‘individuals’ to be members of NWNA".

David: "Who is NWNA intended for"?

Gary: "Nordic Walking North America is for all instructors or individuals regardless of what trainings they have had in the past or what poles they’re working with. NWNA is a pole neutral educational organization. In our first National Coach training we had participants from several other organizations and we presented information on and had candidates try several different brands of Nordic Walking poles".

David: "Can you clarify what you mean by ‘NWNA is Pole Neutral’"?

Gary: "Nordic Walking North America is pole neutral since it does not recommend or promote any one brand of Nordic Walking pole. This is confusing for some since INWA was so closely associated with Exel but INWA’s recent turn to an ‘educational association’ has freed the member countries to use whatever poles they prefer. Exel is a great manufacturer of poles and there are several great manufacturers of poles. NWNA will educate on the usage of a variety of poles but will not single one brand out as THE Nordic Walking Pole".

David:"So what are the Goals for NWNA"?

Gary: "In North America , Nordic Walking is still a relatively new activity but to date the trend has been for each manufacture to either endorse or develop one training organization, creating a bunch of fragmented organizations trying to promote the activity of Nordic Walking to North America . At the same time they are each trying to promote their particular brand of poles".

"The first goal of NWNA is to represent Nordic Walking as an activity and be an educational organization promoting the safe and effective activity of Nordic Walking. It is our hope to work in co-operation with the existing Nordic Walking organizations to promote Nordic Walking but add credibility to that goal by not being seen as a defacto marketing arm for any one manufacturer. Also by having other organizations become part of NWNA we hope to add creditability to their existing training programs. If we all work together and move as one strong force we can get Nordic Walking to be the fitness activity here in
North America that those of us in the Nordic Walking community know it can be".

David: "How do you hope to achieve this cooperation between organizations"?

Gary: "We are already well on our way. As I mentioned earlier we already had representation from several different organizations at our first National Coach training. For our large second half to the National Coach training we have invited several different organizations and brands to present to our candidates and also to members and the general public, since we will open up one day of presentations to the general public. And of course any organization that is interested in looking for ways for us to work together would be very welcome to contact me directly".

David: "Why NWNA as the co-operating organization"?

Gary: "We have two strengths to help achieve this goal, we have great history through INWA and we are a new organization here in North America . So we get to start with a clean slate. I don’t see NWNA replacing any organization but being the collection point for all the Nordic Walking energy and add some understanding to the different forms of Nordic Walking and promote the simple and safe forms along with the specialized forms of Nordic Walking".

David: "I’ve been saying publicly for 4 years, that a re-structured INWA together with co-operation between the major players in our industry is ‘essential’ if Nordic Walking is going to begin to achieve its potential. I am really encouraged by what I have heard today Gary and I feel that this is a great opportunity. If you achieve the support that this initiative deserves this really could be the dawn of an exciting new era of ‘industry co-operation’ in
North America and one where everyone is a winner. It could also lead to North America setting a new standard that the rest of the Nordic Walking world will be eager to follow. Thank you Gary for all your hard work and I really do wish you and Malin every success with NWNA - You’ve definitely got my support".

Gary: "I’ve enjoyed it David and thank you for the work you have done over the years, which has been instrumental in how all this is coming together".


If you head up an existing Nordic Walking Organization; or you are a manufacturer; an instructor, an enthusiast or you have any other interest in Nordic Walking in North America and you’d like to contact Gary and Nordic Walking North America; here's how you can do it:

Via Website:
Via Email: email: info(at)nordicwalkingusa(dot)com

Note: Replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .

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