Saturday, August 14, 2010


International Nordic Walking Social Club Event


As Co- Editor I am delighted to confirm that Nordic Walking News supports the:
Nordic Walking Social Club

The club was established last year by UK resident, John Adler. Please visit John’s site at:


Latest News – posted on August 14th 2010

Following the success of the Chatsworth event in May, the next event will take place on Sunday 10 October 2010. The location will be somewhere scenic in central England. Details will be confirmed shortly. Start time is likely to be around 11am finish around 5pm with a pub lunch stop along the way. The event is free and open to both experienced walkers and those completely new to this activity.
Posted by Malcolm Jarvis, co-editor and Nordic Walker - August 14th 2010

Monday, August 09, 2010


What's In a Name - A Personal View

Please note that this article currently connects to a discussion taking place over on the Nordic Walking eCommunity (as of 8/9 Aug 10). It was originally published on this blog on 23/06/08
Thus far we have encountered Nordic walking, Nordic pole walking, Ski walking, Exerstride® Method™ Nordic walking, Dryland ski walking, Pole walking, European Method Nordic walking, the American Nordic Walking System and Uncle Tom Cobbly Nordic walking! (I will also add my own favourite sobriquet, namely, Finnish Nordic Walking).

It must surely be the case that many potential participants will be confused about what is on offer?

[For the purposes of this discussion I will continue to use the term Nordic Walking (NW) meaning simply “fitness walking with specially designed poles” and which includes all current variants. I will use the term European Method Nordic Walking for the model which is espoused by the INWA (on a personal note I will add that I find the term is misleading, but it seems to have gained currency). I exclude “trekking” with poles here as I would assert that as such it is not “fitness walking” but “economical walking”.]

A question:

Can the Nordic walking world settle on some simple definitions in order to make life less of a muddle?

If we want to agree that the term “Nordic walking” has now assumed generic status (which some now do) then the INWA would have to be persuaded to share that conclusion. However, the INWA will possibly say that its own founders (Exel Oyj) originally invented the term as a tag for a new commodity, namely a form of fitness walking with poles.

INWA’s initial working definition was “fitness walking with specially designed poles” and this has entered into Nordic walking lore (notwithstanding recent amendments made by the INWA, seemingly to parry a number of alleged “misuses” of its definition). At this point, can I refer you to previous articles written by David Downer on this weblog which explains the origins of Nordic walking (30 Sept 05 and 19 Nov 07).

I feel sure that the INWA will contend that only its model is Nordic walking, simply because its founders invented the term, and it is therefore exclusive. The logic only goes one way, they might say. In other words, Nordic walking is Nordic walking and everything else is everything else. Of course, I feel sure it would probably accept that, say, Exerstriding is most certainly a legitimate pole walking modality (and even the first ) but might go on to say that it does not, of itself, make it Nordic walking, although it is like Nordic walking. As an aside, Exel Oyj should have perhaps registered the name back in 1997 along with that of their poles, “Nordic Walker®”.

It strikes me that the term “Nordic walking” is itself going to sustain an irreconcilable and dysfunctional state of affairs, with no obvious way out – an impasse. Why would the INWA, or its new “partners,” freely abandon its “guardianship of the ideal” when it no doubt sees it as its “right”.

What might our options be?

Turbulent history notwithstanding, we need to move on. As a starter, can we consider that there are, in principle, two main variants of pole walking, i.e. the model as exemplified by the INWA (European Method NW), and Exerstriding? Can any other current styles be classified as being variants in their own right: - e.g. Ski walking or Fittrek, or are these hybrids or developments of one, or both, of the two main forms?

Firstly Exerstriding is a very specific form of pole walking, strongly underpinned by testing and experimentation and its presentation to the world has an almost “missionary” quality. It is winning many friends as it embodies a highly resolved ethos which is uncluttered, direct and honest. Of course, the name Exerstride® therefore needs to feature, unsullied, in any fresh definitions.

The creator of the European variant, Marko Kantaneva has reinvented his technique as “Nordic pole walking” in deference to its pre Exel manifestation, which he called sauvakävely (Finnish for pole walking). It is also verified by a large body of research and testing and a return to its “roots” gives it pristine condition.

Likewise, the owners of Ski walking and Fittrek would surely welcome inclusion in this scenario, along with any other variants currently on stage.

As a possible alternative, should we therefore consider “pole walking” as a generic term in place of “Nordic walking”? I know David Downer has alluded to this in the past. Would that fit everyone? This could lead us to:-

Exerstride® pole walking
Nordic pole walking.
Fittrek pole walking
Ski pole walking

Could INWA accommodate the term “Nordic pole walking”? At least it would “shake hands” with its creator with whom it collaborated very closely in the early days. It would still be upholding “le method” still much liked by many, albeit with a slight shift in title.

A glance at the current Exerstrider web site suggests a predominant use of the words Exerstride® and Exerstrider and only occasional use of “Exerstride® Method Nordic walking”. Am I being naïve to ask if Tom Rutlin could consider a shift away from “Nordic walking” as a term – provided it formed part of a wider, mutually agreed development?

Likewise, could not the owners of both Fittrek and Ski walking (and any other forms I have not mentioned) come to terms with adding pole walking into its title?

Poor old Nordic walking

Agreed, the foregoing would mean that the term Nordic walking is discontinued. We all have become used to it and there are scores of organisations world-wide who include the term in its service/organisational description. However, it now comes with a great deal of unwanted baggage and it strikes me that matters might become clearer if we finally dispense with it altogether. Of course, the word Nordic would still be around for those who hanker after that connection, in the current context of Marko Kantaneva’s Nordic pole walking.

Pie in the sky?

A second enormous question: - could such a rationalisation lead to the forming of a global co-ordinating body with national associations and which could accommodate everyone currently jockeying for position? Would not such co-operation benefit all (and in particular the grass roots – i.e. the people who buy the poles and the tuition). Tom Rutlin has already alluded to this but I think it would be essential to get rid of any dysfunction first, and then everyone could be included.

Can you see it? The Global Congress (or Coalition) of Pole Walkers (to adapt Tom Rutlin’s suggestion) followed by the UK Congress…., the Australian Congress…. etc. The GCPW would be established to serve the whole Nordic walking community (not just teachers), would have proper governance, an elected president (with a fixed term and an ambassadorial function), membership for all and perhaps a foundation for research and development. In our commercial world sponsorship could be included, as with many other “governing bodies” but would take conventional and transparent form and might differ nation to nation.

Lastly – if that’s not enough

Or, is there simply too much at stake? Are things now too entrenched? Has it all gone too far? Am I simply being too naive and fanciful? Quite possibly “yes” to all of these things, but I do feel that the Nordic walking house needs to be rebuilt square if it is to flourish.

This issue has exercised me now for some considerable time and any views would be more than welcome.

A personal view of: Malcolm Jarvis, Nordic Walker Leeds UK

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