Monday, May 14, 2012


Sauvakävely (Pole Walking) - An Introduction To Marko Kantaneva's Original 1997 Article (by Malcolm Jarvis)

Those in the Nordic Walking community who have an interest in the origins of this great activity will have encountered the word Sauvakävely. The term is Finnish and its literal translation is Pole Walking:

Sauva = Pole:  Kävely = Walking.

Marko Kantaneva
Importantly the term was adopted by the Finnish Nordic Walking pioneer Marko Kantaneva to describe a discrete form of fitness walking which he developed and codified during the 1990’s.

Marko had realised that walking with poles could be more than just a form of training for skiers but saw the potential for an exercise modality suitable for everyone.

In 1991-93 whilst he was teaching Phys Ed at a school in eastern Finland he began to ponder on how the activity might be developed.

Marko went on to study at the highly respected Sports Institute of Finland at Vierumäki where,amongst other things, he continued to develop his thinking about pole walking. So much so, he went on to include his ideas and analysis in his graduation thesis of 1996.

Shortly afterwards, the Institute was contacted by Tuomo Jantunen who, at the time, was the Director of the Finnish organisation Suomen Latu Ry, a national association which promotes outdoor activities. Mr Jantunen was also enthusiastic about the idea of using poles for fitness walking and it seems likely that he had heard about the work being done at Vierumäki. The outcome was that Mr Jantunen commissioned Marko to write an article describing his pole walking concept for publication in the Suomen Latu newsletter. In return for a six page manuscript, Suomen Latu agreed to offer Marko an educational scholarship of 1000 Finnish Marks (roughly $210 US) which was used to help fund his studies.

Marko entitled the article “Sauvakävely” and, using an approachable style, he fully described the technique he had developed and documented the benefits and parameters of the activity. It might be said that this manuscript was the touchstone for what was to become known worldwide as Nordic Walking.

Until recently this document was available in the Finnish language only. However, it has been translated into English by Marko with the assistance of Malcolm Jarvis (See next post).

For More Information about Marko Kantaneva visit:

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