Considering what really matters in fitness walking with poles
I have been following the impassioned and yet dispiriting discussion on the UK-based Nordic Walking eCommunity about whether Pacer Poles with their unconventional grips can be considered Nordic Walking poles in the broadest sense of the term. Click here if you care to slog through the discussion on the topic, “Is There A Place For Pacerpoling on a – Nordic Walking – Forum?”
I read through long discourses on why Pacer Poles belong or don’t belong, a divisive thread that seems to pit purists versus globalists. I read the tangential discussion about whether the Pacer Pole people play well with others, which is totally irrelevant to an individual who wants to gain fitness by walking with specially designed poles.
Against this background, I was heartened to read a post by a Canadian blogger named Deborah who writes “The Unbearable Lightness of Becoming.” I don’t know her last name, nor do I care. She describes herself as “a 41 year old female living in the beautiful province of New Brunswick.” She has been trying to lose weight and also seems to be a fairly new Nordic Walker who just completed half-marathon. She wrote a post titled “I choose Not to run! But I will Nordic Walk” that continued, “Which is exactly what I did do this past Sunday for a half-marathon. I am proud of myself for seeing this through because I am a great one for starting something and giving up half-way through. It was a tough ten weeks. Today I hurt in places I did not know I even had but it is worth it.”
She didn’t write about which poles she uses or even whether they are one-piece or adjustable, which shoes she wears, which technique she practices and whether it is biomechanically correct. She wrote about setting a goal and accomplishing it, feeling proud and strong. Her enthusiasm for walking with poles is palpable. And that, IMHO, is what everyone in the small community and smaller “industry” should be focusing on.
Exerstrider founder Tom Rutlin, who himself was long considered an outsider and renegade by the orthodox Nordic Walking community, wrote on the eCommunity thread, “Pole walking in just about any form trumps ordinary bipedal walking (for health benefits, enjoyment and motivation). Let’s all finally all begin to concentrate far more on getting more people to ‘taste’ this wonderful healthy activity which just happens to come in a number of flavors’ — all of which would likely to be equally tasty to those without prejudiced minds, not to mention the kind of fear and confusion arising from the endless technique and equipment debates which have too long obscured to the outside world’ the simple fact that ‘Walking with poles is great!’.” Amen.