Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Tom Rutlin's Report on the Recent Santa Monica Nordic Walking Event

Thank you to Tom Rutlin, Nordic Walking Pioneer & Ambassador, Founder of Exerstrider Nordic Walking www.exerstrider.com for this review of the recent ground breaking Santa Monica, California event.

Here's Tom...

I wanted to finally report to you (from my perspective) on what I believe will go down in Nordic walking history as a watershed event. The two events actually -- which took place on the 30th and 31st of May in Santa Monica, California.

Both of these events were organized by Nordic Walking North America (NWNA) under the leadership of Malin Svensson and Gary Johnson with the cooperation of Suzanne Nottingham of Nordic Walk Now, me representing Exerstride Method Nordic Walking and many others in the North American Nordic walking community. It is especially noteworthy that NWNA is a member affiliate of the "new" INWA organization.

On Saturday the 30th there was an event near the Pacific shore in Santa Monica billed as the "Walking and Nordic Walking Health Expo. The event was free and open to the public. There were representatives of most prominent Nordic walking pole manufacturers, free ongoing instruction by instructors from a number of participating organizations, and 30 minute lectures and 30 minute instructional classes offered by Malin Svensson, Suzanne Nottingham and me.

This event was followed by a "Nordic Walking Summit - Part I" a "agree to disagree" discussion and dinner. On Sunday from early morning until noon was a "Meet the top Nordic Walking Educators" (in North America) which was attended by a number of Nordic walking instructors from the U.S. and Canada, Claire Walter of the Nordic Walking USA blog and a guest from "down under",Michael "Walking Wizard" Gates.

At that event, I, Malin and Suzanne all gave a brief history of our involvement in Nordic walking and then offered either a lecture or demonstration to all of the attendees.

Following lunch we had a "nuts and bolts" discussion in which webrainstormed expanded definitions of Nordic walking and Nordic walking poles and discussed ways of working together to further a single goal that everyone in attendance shared...to increase awareness of and participation in Nordic walking all across North America.

As anyone who has ever read my "Open Letter to the Nordic Walking Community" from 2003 knows, I have been urging cooperation by those passionately involved in Nordic walking all around the globe since right after ISPO 2003 where my efforts to promote such cooperation with other pole manufacturers and INWA had met with a resounding "no thanks". So the promise of finally beginning a new era of cooperation among leading figures in at least the North American Nordic walking community brought me to the event with the hope and an optimism which has sustained me for many year now.

Although I had over time had numerous conversations with Malin Svensson and Gary Johnson as well as with Suzanne Nottingham, and had on other occasions met many of the representatives of other Nordic walking equipment manufacturers, this was the first time we had ever come together with a shared goal.

It became immediately clear to all of us during the Nordic Walking Health Expo that there was far more that we had in common than the differences that had to that point too often divided us. It seemed to most of us that at least 90% of what we are all promoting was the same and that the 10% that constituted our differences was what I like to think of as "different flavors" of Nordic walking. As all of us within the North American Nordic walking community sampled each other's flavors, the tastes were clearly different in some ways but everyone I spoke with agreed that everything on the menu was "tasty and sweet" none the less.

During a 2007 trip to the Netherlands and Germany I offered up the notion of "expanding the Nordic walking menu" to present those already within the movement, and those of all ages, abilities and goals wishing to sample it for entry, a greater range of menu options. At this event the image of an ice cream shop came to me, so I began to offer up the proposal that as we begin opening our Nordic walking "ice cream" shops across North America (and around the globe) it would be in the interest of all of us already so invested in building the movement to agree that it would offer greater appeal and promote faster growth if we were to offer more flavors on a
single expanded Nordic walking menu.

All of us who have "tasted" Nordic walking in any of its flavors have discovered just how delicious and addicting it can be. It's high time for all of us to give up the notion that all Nordic walking should be one flavor. Whether we facilitate the process of not, people will over time taste test every flavor available.

The very good new in my opinion is that everyone who was a part of this important North American Nordic walking event demonstrated both a mutual respect and spirit of cooperation which I hope can begin to set a new tone all around the globe.

In the early spring of 2009 I composed a second "Open Letter to the Nordic Walking Community) as a follow-up to my 2003 open letter. When I learned about this North American event, I decided to hold off on issuing my new open letter until after the event. I am very happy to report that this North American Summit group seems to have already answered a call for unity and cooperation which was contained in my new open letter.

I hope that our cooperative efforts will prove to the rest of the global Nordic walkingcommunity the wisdom of cooperating to promote the intrinsic health and fitness benefits that fitness walking (in any of a variety of techniques) with poles (of any quality design) offers, rather than continuing to follow the failing model of putting the self-interests of manufacturers and established organizations ahead of a new focus on service to the Nordic walking community.

I now offer my second open letter (see June 11th 2009 posting) to those in Nordic walking community who have yet to see the merits of cooperating to harmoniously sing the praises of Nordic walking to an "outside world" so much in need of both its many health and fitness benefits -- and the enjoyment it can add to any walk. I sincerely hope that the days of focusing on exploiting the market finally give way to a new focus on cooperatively serving and growing the Nordic walking community to its fullest potential. Given what I experienced in Santa Monica recently, that paradigm shift is well underway in North America.

Stay well,

Tom Rutlin


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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