Thursday, May 14, 2009


Nordic Walking - A Future Hope

The last three articles to feature here on Nordic Walking News collectively indicate the possibility of a shift in the world of Nordic Walking, at least at industry level. I am of course referring to the developments at the International Nordic Walking Federation (INWA) and the emerging spirit of co-operation which seems to be becoming a strong feature of the US Nordic Walking community. Perhaps the participants in the latter are taking their cue from the refreshing approach to be witnessed in the country’s highest political office. Of course, it’s difficult to guess where all of this will lead but I’m sure many of us will support such positive trends.

In the fascinating interview with Gary Johnson, it was interesting to see a brief mention about individual members of the public becoming members of the US association of the INWA (NWNA). This reawakens a strongly held conviction of mine for the need for a world-wide organisation which is committed to serve the interests of ALL Nordic Walkers, not just those of the industry. Thus far, it might be said that only one component (the instructor cadre) of the Nordic walking community has some form of collective. The other part (the customers who actually fund the former) has no collective voice.

To my mind, the INWA, with its strong international construction, has always been a likely candidate as the foundation for such a global organisation. However, I am aware that this was never its remit and it is therefore wishful thinking on my part. Furthermore, there is more to the world of Nordic Walking than the INWA previously seemed prepared to recognise, as they appeared to jealously guard the portals to this great activity. Of course, given their former raison d’être they probably could not do otherwise.
However, I sense a shift in attitude which could eventually lead to a spirit of mutual recognition and respect. The success, or otherwise, of this will be largely dependent on those concerned keeping an open mind and putting the interests of the customer first. Perhaps, when matters have consolidated, a debate could be started about providing a strand within, or linked to the INWA which is designed to serve the total Nordic Walking community. Through this mechanism the interests of the customer could be immediately reflected by responses from its service community, the instructor cadre.

The INWA, with its strong educational remit, could thus maintain an independent and authoritative certification of all viable Nordic Walking modalities including the dissemination of methods and guidance about all of the associated paraphernalia. The same organisation could commission and fund (via subscription) scientific test and analysis of Nordic Walking and further validate its undoubted benefits. The advantages for the customer would be quite considerable and would give both a sense of focus and community – something which is currently lacking.

I recognise that for some Nordic Walking is little more than a commodity; a means of adding further income stream. However, I believe strongly that above all else Nordic Walking has the potential to provide millions with the opportunity to enhance the quality of life, help to maintain physical independence and to lead a more sustainable existence. To do this, the movement has to extend much further than its current reach, as thus far, the promotion of this great fitness activity has been largely on a cottage industry scale. I believe that an overarching International Nordic Walking Federation could and should become a great force.
Malcolm Jarvis, Nordic Walking Leeds UK

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