Trying to Revive This Blog

Two reasons for long cyber-silence on this blog

NordicWalkingI haven’t posted anything on this blog for months and months. Reason #1:  I had been suffering from excruciating and ever worsening pain from back issues for months, and sitting at the computer made it worse. Reason #2: Nordic Walking appears stuck, still with virtually no cooperation or joint promotion among training organizations or pole-makers to grow the sport. It remains stuck with small isolated islands of activity and local growth scattered in the US and most of the promoters jealously guarding their small pieces of Nordic Walking turf.

Surgery Story

Throughout my ever-increasing pain (until the last couple of weeks before my January 29 surgery), I still managed to Nordic Walk almost every day, do a TV program called “Classical Stretch” and take a weekly Pilates class. Because I remained relatively fit till the end, my surgeon agreed to try minimally invasive micro-decompression surgery rather than a fusion. Walking was the recommended rehab activity, and less than 24 hours after the outpatient procedure, I went on a 2/3-mile walk around nearby park. From the next day on, I have walked between 2 and 3½ miles every day, and I have been uncharacteristically conscientious about physical therapy. I have been pain-free since the day after surgery, and now, of course, I wonder why I did so much for so long to avoid surgery. I hope that in some way, by reviving this blog, I can encourage other people to Nordic Walk to get in shape, get in better shape, lose a few pounds and get outdoors in the fresh air.

Attrition in the Nordic Walking Community

A number of Nordic Walking pole manufacturers that entered the American market have withdrawn or stopped producing specialty products entirely, and some people who were active no longer are so. It came as a sad surprise when I learned that Suzanne Nottingham, a committed and energetic fitness pro and author of a technique book called Nordic Walking for Total Fitness, had thrown in the towel and folded her Nordic Walk Now program. Suzanne and I were on the same page about the necessity for all players to work together if fitness walking with poles is ever to grow in this country. Or maybe all it would take is for Michelle Obama to beging using poles for a walking workout.

I’m again trying my part. Please leave comments to my upcoming posts, recommend this blog as a resource and keep on walking.


9 thoughts on “Trying to Revive This Blog”

  1. I am happy to hear that your back pain is gone and that exercise, including a lot of Nordic Walking, played a key role in your recovery from back surgery!

    Every day, here at http://WWW.SKIWALKING.COM and the American Nordic Walking System we receive thank you cards and happy customer emails from customers that have experienced positive life changing thanks to their Ski Walking Poles (diet changes have also played an important role in some of these success stories too).

    Glad to see you are back in action and glad you bring up your point about “Attrition in the Nordic Walking Community”.

    EXEL launched the whole Nordic Walking thing and they founded the INWA (International Nordic Walking Association) and it was a scam of sorts right from the start. The EXEL poles were top quality one-piece poles from Finland, but you had to use and/or distribute EXEL Poles to be a member. I had taught hundreds of Nordic Walking Classes, but was rejected because I was a fan of SWIX one-piece poles from Norway. All of the Nordic Walking Associations that followed were scams/fronts to sell specific poles from a single manufacturer.

    And unfortunately the books and DVD’s about Nordic Walking were for the most part written without an understanding of the sport, of biomechanics or the ski industry. Same with teaching certification.

    The PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) is a quality organization and has a reputable certification program. Total quality. Logical. With PSIA you actually need to “teach” prior to getting certified. PSIA requires you take “prep courses” to prepare for their certification exams. You need skis, you need snow and you need experience to become certified.

    Quality and logic are missing from all the current “short cut” and “fast track” certifications for Nordic Walking. Hard to grow a sport when miss-information prevails. When I took my written certification the supposedly “correct” answers were in reality wrong answers, but I knew that upfront and received a perfect score, but the biomechanics was all wrong in several of the questions/answers.

    If Nordic Walking here in North America followed the quality model of PSIA there would be very few certified members currently, but the certifications would have meaning. And the membership base could be “HUGE” – with pre-certified individuals.

    Most of the books and DVD’s out there have totally incorrect pole sizing info included and most provide biomechanical poor advice. After coaching runners and skiers for over 30 years the biomechanics thing is easy for me to understand. There is a lot of poor advice out there.

    How many folks know that different ski companies measure the poles and skis differently? One company may measure to the tip of the ski or the top of the pole. Another may measure to the shovel of the ski or to where the strap comes out of the grip. That means sizing varies hugely so silly charts, graphs and percentages are totally not helpful.

    The most important point today is one that you, Claire, have helped perhaps unknowingly to make. One of your posts a few years back, while hiking in Ireland perhaps, you noted that you left your collapsible Nordic Walking Poles behind and opted to bring more sturdy “trekking” poles. You are correct, collapsible Nordic Walking Poles are not durable or tough enough for rough terrain (some even come with warnings and restrictions), however quality one-piece Nordic Walking Poles. Fact.

    Remember that Nordic Walking’s roots comes from hiking with one-piece ski poles (radically reducing the stress to the knees and back) and from Scandinavian summer ski training – hiking, ski walking, running and hill bounding with one-piece ski poles. Sturdy and dependable poles that can withstand a ton of pounding and abuse.

    I personally think that selling cheap/flimsy collapsible poles to seniors and individuals is an ethical violation – not just because they rattle and vibrate more than one-piece poles, but because the twist-locks and flip-locks are neither dependable nor user-friendly. Every day we pick up new customers that accidently purchased or were given as gifts collapsible poles (all made in China now) that proved defected right out of the box or refused to maintain their settings by gradually slipping when used or fail unexpectedly altogether.

    Total miss-information was just printed in the Chicago Tribune about Nordic Walking and Trekking – however all press is good press if it gets folks off the couch and out walking. A supposed expert, and representative/promoter of a specific collapsible pole manufacture, made the statement that basically Nordic Walking Poles were for the city and trekking poles were for the rough off-road type use. Correct perhaps in the world of collapsible poles, but in reality WRONG, WRONG and WRONG.

    Please understand that there are super cheap/flimsy collapsible trekking poles scamming hikers and back-packers – all made in China and just as cheap/flimsy as those horrible collapsible poles that come free with snowshoes. Even the $200.00 collapsible trekking poles are made in China now and are no longer of the same quality as when they were made in Germany – I hear this every day from Leki customers that loved their old German trekking poles and had to return their new Leki trekking poles from China.

    My daughter is a professional mountain guide and she said to me “dad, the number equipment failure in the field are collapsible poles.”

    One-piece ski and Nordic Walking poles are tough enough for use in the mountains, hill bound, hill running, trekking.

    Collapsible Nordic Walking Poles are not. We can debate this forever, but just as you left your collapsible poles behind and opted for a more sturdy pair of trekking poles the other option could have been a pair of quality one-piece poles.

    One-piece poles – safer, lighter, stronger, much more durable and much more user friendly than collapsible poles. I refuse to sell or promote collapsible poles for everyday use, to seniors or to anyone with a balance issue. But as a respected pole walking leader told me about 10 years back – “you are right Pete, but those collapsible poles are so easy to sell.”

    I’ll stick to doing the right thing. Selling quality and not volume.

    Keep Nordic Walking and keep that back happy Claire!

    1. Oh my gosh, you are SO right. I got collapsible poles for my snowshoes and within a 1/2 dozen uses, one collapsed/bent (And it was not extended too far). The company replaced it… “just this time”. This year, I go to use my poles on the first snow and the clasp on the other poles disintegrates upon opening. I HARDLY USED THEM!

      So you are so right. While I love to be able to adjust my poles, it’s impossible if they are broken!

  2. Nordic Walking Poles Radically Improve Balance, Stability And Gait
    (NO Longer Just For Athletes & Expert Skiers!)
    Over ten million Europeans are Nordic Walking with special Nordic Ski Walking Poles (ALL ages and ALL fitness levels). This amazing new fitness activity turbo charges the normal walking regimen. Not only does Nordic Walking burn up to 40% more calories than regular walking, it automatically improves walking posture and helps to reduce the stress to the shins, knees, hips and back. Utilizing the correct length poles encourages improved walking posture, while the poles and your arms absorb an impressive amount of the shock that would typically hit the shins, knees, hips and back. Nordic Walking is ideal for athletes, kids, adults of all ages and even folks with balance issues.

    Nordic Walking’s winning combination of improved posture, a unique 4-Wheel-Drive type action and shock absorbing benefits – helping many individuals to walk comfortably again. Nordic Walking Poles are helping individuals with balance issues, knee issues or new knees, hip issues or new hips, back issues (including those with rods in their back), weight issues, multiple sclerosis (MS), parkinson’s (PD), diabetes, neuropathy, arthritis, bursitis, scoliosis, lumbar stenosis, fibromyalgia, post polio, osteoporosis, stroke recovery, cancer recovery and other limitations to walking. Nordic Walking poles are helping thousands of Americans get off the couch, successfully get outside, start walking safely and effectively launch much needed walking campaigns.

    Eight years ago I launched http://WWW.SKIWALKING.COM and The American Nordic Walking System. Right away I received hundreds of thank you emails and thank you cards from happy customers – including folks with bad/new knees, bad/new hips, back problems and balance issues. One lady called me during the fall of 2004 and asked if the poles would help improve her balance problems stemming from an inner ear issue. I told her I wasn’t sure, but I did share with her several impressive success stories from folks with knee, hip and/or back problems. By using the correct length poles she was able to navigate even the roughest terrain with balance and security provided by the poles. She has been successfully using my Swix VIP Nordic Walking Poles for years now.

    While hosting Nordic Walking at The Fitness Center in Traverse City, Michigan I was introduced to Michelle Honer. Michelle had signed up to participate in one of my Ski Walking Classes. When she walked up the handicap ramp prior to the class with her cane it was apparent that she had some balance issues and she informed her classmates that she had MS. Our 1st Ski Walk was only a few blocks down and back. Within several weeks we were covering about 2 miles in one hour.

    For seven prior years Michelle had ridden an electric scooter in the Traverse City MS Walk. Michelle’s Nordic Walking Poles helped to enable her to walk the 5K (3.1 miles). Local newspapers and TV stations have covered her remarkable story.

    “My special Nordic Walking poles have allowed me to walk taller, faster, further and with much more stability than with my cane. Their one-piece design is so much better than my old adjustable poles that broke unexpectedly at an extremely inconvenient time” says Michelle.

    Michelle is now an official Ski Walking Ambassador for SKIWALKING.COM and proudly wears her Ski Walking Shirt made of organic cotton while assisting at many of my Nordic Walking Clinics.

    Michelle’s success with the walking poles encouraged me to host free Nordic Walking Clinics at MS Support Group meetings. She suggested that I also contact the Jimmie Heuga Center in Colorado. The Heuga Center is dedicated to helping those with MS lead healthier and happier lives.

    This summer we donated real Nordic Walking Poles and hosted free Nordic Walking Clinics at Fort Carson in Colorado for the Wounded Warriors. Many of these American heroes came to our clinics using canes and walkers. One Wounded Warrior had just been released from his wheel chair. ALL found that using the correct length poles really did radically improve balance, stability and gait.
    I receive thank you letters and emails everyday from super happy customers. Here are a couple wonderful examples:
    I just returned from a 14-day trip to London and Ireland. I was able to do almost everything using my ski poles or “walking sticks” as they call them in England and Ireland. I could not have considered this trip without my “walking sticks” and I am grateful for them. I hope all Parkinson’s patients will be able make use of ” walking sticks”.
    Again, thanks for making my once in a lifetime adventure a reality.
    We’ve been Ski Walking everyday, I was truly amazed at watching Linda, if didn’t know that she has MS and the related gate problems that most MS patients have, I would not have believed it! She walks “normal” what ever that is? Your poles are great!
    My husband bought me your poles for my birthday last week. I LOVE them. I have MS and walk with a slight limp and my balance is off sometimes. I am now walking in the park at a brisk walk every day for about 1 1/2 miles. Thank you so much. They make a big difference in my walking. I told him they are the best birthday present he has ever bought me. Thanks again.
    It may sounds like magic, but it is just good physics. The key is using “perfect length” Nordic Walking Poles.

    Perfect length poles help us to automatically walk with a super straight back – better walking posture is biomechanically a good thing. This improved walking posture when combined with the unique 4-Wheel-Drive type action of walking with poles radically reduces the stress to the shins, knees, hips and back. Nordic Walking is low impact and yet provides a highly effective workout – burning more calories and working more muscle groups than regular walking.

    I recommend quality one-piece poles that won’t collapse unexpectedly. One-piece poles are safer, lighter and much more durable than adjustable/telescoping/collapsible poles. Adjustable/telescoping/collapsible poles should NEVER be recommended for anyone with a balance issue. Hundreds of backpackers have tumbled when their telescoping poles unexpectedly collapsed, causing severe injuries.

    According to Nick Mahood, SWIX USA Nordic Walking Director, “Pete Edwards, The American Nordic Walking System and SKIWALKING.COM’s owner/founder/coach, has single handedly introduced thousands of Americans to Nordic Walking through his enthusiastic Nordic Walking clinics! I have no doubt that Edwards is the #1 retailer of Nordic Walking Poles in the USA! You can quote me on that!”

    About the Author

    Pete Edwards has been coaching runners and skiers of all ages and fitness levels for over 30 years. Edwards is a former ski school director, running coach, personal trainer and the owner/founder of The American Nordic Walking System and SKIWALKING.COM Nordic Walking Poles, headquartered in Glen Arbor, Michigan. Edwards has coached State Champions (individuals + teams), All-Americans and National Champions. He has also introduced Nordic Walking to thousands of Americans through Nordic Walking clinics, radio interviews, newspaper interviews and TV interviews. He has skied in 50K marathons and won 26.2 mile running marathons. His skiers have been hill bounding and ski walking with poles for years in the summer when deprived of snow. Hosting Nordic Walking clinics is extremely enjoyable for Edwards and he especially enjoys hosting Nordic Walking clinics for MS, Parkinson’s and Diabetes support groups, plus Wounded Warrior Programs.

    For more information, pictures, info on how to get started – please contact:

    The American Nordic Walking System and http://WWW.SKIWALKING.COM

    Website: http://WWW.SKIWALKING.COM


    Toll Free: 877-SKIWALK (877-754-9255)
    Local: 231-334-3080

    Pete – Owner/Founder/Coach The American Nordic Walking System and http://WWW.SKIWALKING.COM

  3. Hi Claire- I am developing a website/blog for people with Charcot Marie Tooth (the most common inherited neurological disease), and scoliosis. I have found amazing results with Nordic Walking, and recently got Bernd Zimmermann to certify me as a Basic Instructor. Do you think I can get affiliate programs for my site that include Leki, Swish, and others? I would love to meet you sometime, I live in Durango, Co. Sincerely, the Pole Walking Podiatrist-Greg Stilwell

    1. Dr. Stilwell is definitely onto something if he can see the benefits of Nordic Walking Poles for his clients with balance issues. If he does his homework he’ll understand that the best option for anyone with balance issues would be one-piece poles and not the collapsible poles that Bernd and others promote.

      One-piece poles will always prove to be safer, lighter, more durable and much more user-friendly than cheap/flimsy 2-piece and 3-piece poles equipped with twist-locks and flip-locks. The skiers in Durango already know that. I personally refuse to sell collapsible poles to seniors or anyone with balance issues.

      Nordic Walking’s winning combination of improved posture, a unique 4-Wheel-Drive type action and shock absorbing benefits – helping many individuals to walk comfortably again. Quality SWIX and EXEL one-piece Nordic Walking Poles are helping individuals with balance issues, knee issues or new knees, hip issues or new hips, back issues (including those with rods in their back), weight issues, multiple sclerosis (MS), parkinson’s (PD), diabetes, neuropathy, arthritis, bursitis, scoliosis, lumbar stenosis, fibromyalgia, post polio, osteoporosis, stroke recovery, cancer recovery and other limitations to walking. Nordic Walking poles are helping thousands of Americans get off the couch, successfully get outside, start walking safely and effectively launch much needed walking campaigns.

  4. Dr. Stilwell – I really am not up on which pole companies currently have affiliate programs. I believe that Exerstrider and Keenfit (Canada) do, but beyond that, I’m afraid I don’t know.

    Pete E. – Do you have an affiliate progam.

    As for one-piece versus acjustable poles, IMHO, both have their places. I use lightweight Exel one-piece poles for my regular walks. I also have LEKI instructor poles and Boomyah poles, both adjustable. I sometimes use them on more rugged terrain — kind of that walking/hiking activity. It is also good to have some adjustable poles around for guests of different heights.

    Cheap, flimsy poles are not a good investment — regardless of other factors. Quality costs a little more but durability is worth the additional expense, because other then replacing the rubber “foot” now and then, quality poles last a very long time.

  5. Hi Claire, keep going, keep walking, don’t give up ! In France now, after more than 10 years of struggle every single leisure sports federation is nordic walking, in the World there are some 9 million of us, in China atleast 200 000. In France it become popular when the Athletics Federation got involved. Nordic Walking is a new Athletics discipline ! In Germany they are over 4 millions I’ve heard, several huge federations.

    In every Country the Nordic Walking world is split between several organisations, each having their own training system. It’s so. But we have the same situation with Pilates, I guess today world is so.

    Nordic Walking needs to get a sports image. It shall not be only ment to old people. Beautiful photos are needed !

    Get soon better, take care, waiting to hear from you,

    Nordic Walker (Sauvakävely) since the early -70’s first in Finland, now in France

    1. I have not given up on Nordic Walking or on hiking with poles (different but related). I am just discouraged by the fragmenation and contined lack of cooperation among the training/certifying organizations and, to a lesser against, pole makers/distributors. Some, in fact, make it point to discredit their competitors’ methodology or products. This is counter-productive and hurts everyone. What is most needed to grow Nordic Walking in this country is an up-to-date, searchable directory of NW instructors so that people can find a convenient place learn the basics — regardless of what technical refinements or brand of poles. It hasn’t happened, so Nordic Walking is still a very obscure activity. I am not the only one who is discouraged by the stagnation of Nordic Walking.

      Mammoth Lakes, California-based Suzanne Nottingham, a well-known fitness instructor and trainer, and founder of Nordic Walk Now, is no longer involved with Nordic Walking.

      More recently, Lindy Speizer Smith, who spearheaded LEKI USA’s effort to bring Nordic Walking to the country, eventually moved to Florida, began teaching Nordic Walking and in early 2010, launched an interesting, useful, enthusiastic E-newsletter called “Nordic Walking with Lindy” to move the sport forward. In her final newsletter, she wrote:

      “I’ve shown you photos of each other: my students, groups of Nordic Walkers, shadow photos and some videos.
      I’ve shared health & wellness research and tidbits from magazines that I found fascinating.
      I’ve shared some personal stuff.
      I’ve offered coupons.
      I’ve tempted you with free walks.
      I’ve even promoted the causes of others.
      ….in this ever distracting multi-tasking world [producing the newsletter] is not a good investment of time or money.
      So…this is my last official newsletter. …Some changes have to be made so I can continue to deliver A+ education and sales.
      In the next few months, during the heat of Florida summer when my business is slower…I’ll be removing from my life and business things that no longer work and finding ways to be more engaging by launching a new website that will be dynamic, not static like the one I currently have. You can still find me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MeetUp and my website.”

      These are two of the most capable, most knowledgeable and mos enthusiastic leaders in the field of Nordic Walking, and even they couldn’t really move it forward in a meaningful way.

  6. Hi Claire and all other PWLNW (People Who Love Nordic Walking),

    Not so fast…I am still in business, just working smarter, not harder.

    I gave up the Constant Contact newsletter you refer to because it cost $20 a month and hours of my time. I was preaching to the choir. My 500+ subscribers already bought poles, took classes and knew my passion for Nordic Walking.

    My current class schedule now includes the pulmonary rehab at the local hospital, very exclusive gated communities and private lessons. Claire, I think you see all this activity on my Facebook page?

    Because of my advanced Toastmaster skills, I’m the featured speaker at local wellness and support groups. Next month I will be speaking at FRPA in Orlando and offering CEU’s to Florida Parks & Rec folks.

    My walkwithlindy facebook page is active.

    My MeetUp group has 30 women in it.

    I am an example of someone who has blended their love of Nordic Walking with pragmatic business sense. And I share that love and knowledge with other certified (there’s a difference between being trained and being certified) movement specialists who want to start their own Nordic Walking business or add poles to their existing fit-biz. They come visit me and I share everything without compensation. My OwnYourWalk Facebook page is active.

    I don’t trash competitors however I insist that my students and colleagues use my adjustable LEKI poles that are manufacturered in Europe. (The carbon is sourced from China). Just today I adjusted a podiatrist’s poles a few centimeters and it made a world of difference in his back pain. I’d use LEKI even if I didn’t work for the company for 8.5 years. This is my choice.

    People first. Activity Directors comment that their residents’ evaluations of my classes always score high for building confidence, fun and new knowledge about movement.

    So, am I successful? My business is not a giant revenue machine; that’s fine with me. I get extreme pleasure out of watching elders stop shuffling and menopausal women who start sleeping.

    You can teach Nordic Walking technique and you can teach people how to sell poles but you can’t teach anyone how to deeply care about others.

    Through the years, the effort it takes to remind people X sells best product or X invented Nordic Walking has taken focus off the people…the end-user.

    I’m happy down here in my little corner of Ft. Myers, doing my own thing. If you call that not moving forward in a meaningful way…so be it.


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