Category Archives: Europe

World Original Nordic Walking Federation, An Introduction

New (or at least new-to-me) organization based in Finland. Thank you, Facebook, for the introduction

I vowed to myself (and to you too) that I would post more frequently to this blog, and I’ve fallen behind again. I vowed to myself (but maybe not to you) that I would try to focus more of my posts to happenings in North America, even though Europe and the U.K. continue to produce more Nordic Walking news. So much for vows, at least as far as this bloe is concerned. Here goes, after another too-long lapse, with word of yet another new-to-me Nordic Walking organization that began in Europe. I found it on Facebook (where else?), and from a glance it the archive on its website, it appears to have launched in January of this year, making it the new kid on the Nordic Walking block.

I am not clear on how the World Original Nordic Walking Federation fits in with or stands out from the rest of the alphabet soup of Nordic Walking organizations on both sides of the Atlantic. I do know that it is based in Finland, and that it sells products under imprimateur of Marko Kantaneva, the Finn who now lives in Estonia and is generally acknowledged as the father of Nordic Walking. In fact, the MARKO – MARKO KANTANEVA® trademark label seems to have developed to support the federation and further research into and promotion of Nordic Walking.  Or perhaps the Federation was developed to support and promote the brand. Like the chicken and egg, I don’t know which came first.

The ONWF (the initials different in other languages) website has pages dedicated its vision, its values, its “five statements” (which seem to be mission statements), the ONW Club that manages the federations education programs and an org chart.  The website is extensive, as is the Facebook profile.   ONWF believes there are 14 million Nordic Walkers in the world, and it aims to reach 10 percent of them within five years. Take it from there, folks.

The ONWF office adress is Ravikuja 4b A 10, 57710 Savonlinna, Finland; the E-mail addres is, and the phone number is +358 41 707 8916.

Rick Deutsch Nordic Walks on Water!

More precisely,  Rick Deutsch’s annual Nordic Walking presentations on a cruise ship that floats on the water

San Jose, California-based trekker, guide and Nordic Walking instructor Rick Deutsch again led complimentary classes for passengers aboard Crystal Cruise’s “Serenity,” sailing around the boot of Italy from Venice to Monte Carlo. The cruise line reports that since the Nordic Walking program was launched a year ago, several hundred guests have tried fitness walking with lightweight poles.

Through a partnership with LEKI USA, Crystal continues to offer Nordic Walking as a fitness option at sea. Most cruise ships schedule one or two formal nights a week, and Rick was ready with his tux and his “dress poles” — actually his regular poles — but I like the image of formal Nordic Walking poles. We already have the tussle over whether one-piece or adjustable poles are preferable. A writer cleverer than I could parody it with a debate over casual poles versus dress poles, or day poles versus evening poles. But I’m getting silly.

I digress. Rick sent me a brief report about his Nordic Walking activities on the ship:

“We sailed  from Venice to Monte Carlo in early October. I taught Nordic Walking every day at 7 am and 5 pm. The classes are complimentary and we had a nearly full house at most sessions. The mornings are a tough play with so much going on AND folks enjoying sleeping in during their vacationn

” I also gave an overview / benefits presentation mid-week. We have 10 pairs of Leki Instructor model poles onand have just  each of the 2 ships in the fleet.  We just launched the Traveller poles for guests that want to purchase their own. The Travellers are 3-section (vs 2) so they pack much better. They were a hit with the guests.

” The Fitness Directors incorporate the benefits of Nordic Walking during their classes when I am not on board and they guide the 2 daily sessions. The complimentary program has be running a year and participation is increasing. We have exposed well over 1,000 people to Nordic Walking. People first feel their triceps working and it goes from there. The 360 degree Crystal Promenade deck is 1/3 of a mile around, so folks get a good workout. Many “walkers” are being converted into NW users.”

Another successful voyage for Nordic Walking, I’d say.

Famous German Ski Couple Promotes Nordic Walking in Germany

Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther high on fitness walking with poles

If you ever need confirmation that Nordic Walking is as appropriate for world-class athletes as it is for the rest of us, consider Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther, two German ski team stars of the 1970s. In addition to two gold medals and one silver at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Rosi has a  US connection, “Gold Rosi,” as she was nicknamed, won the last of 10 World Cup races before retiring from ski racing at Copper Mountain, Colorado. The resort named a trail Rosi’s Run in her honor.

The couple is into Nordic Walking and has been for a number of years. Their sport shop in Germisch-Partenkirchen stocks Nordic Walking poles and accessories. They have co-authored two Nordic Walking books, one a technique book and a second specificially about Nordic Walking for back health

They promote the sport around the country with grace, humor and inspiration.  One YouTube video shows them doing just that, and another video shows them leading 700 Nordic Walkers on an itinerary that ends in their town. Seven hundred Nordic Walkers at once. North American promoters of the sport can only dream of such numbers.

The Turn- und Sportverein, the local Garmisch-Partenkitchen sports club that was founded back in 1899, offers a series of six Nordic Walking classes for 12€ plus 5€ for use of poles during the entire course for TSV members, 18€ for the course and 10€ for the poles for non-members. 

Mittermaier and Neureuther don’t teach the classes — one Elvira Witting does. But wouldn’t it be fine if the German ski stars would come to Colorado for a Nordic Walking session — just for old time’s sake?

Nordic Walking Weekenders in Germany

Tour operator specializes in running and walking programs

 While wandering around one of the characteristic passages (shop-lined arcades linking one street with another) in Leipzig, Germany, I spotted a running store called Leipziger Laufladen and thought it would be a good opportunity to pick up some replacement paws for my Exel poles, which seem available noplace at home except online. (For the record, I have bought LEKI paws, however.)

The young salesman apologized for the small selection of poles and accessories on display (below), though even in October, this”” low” inventory is probably more poles than are available in  brick and mortar retail stores in the entire state of Colorado.

While he was writing up the sales receipt, I looked at the promotional material available in the register area. There was a simple yellow flyer announcing 14 running and 11 walking weekends put on by a company called Reisezeit, which organizes special-interest trips. (The image, above left, is theirs.) This is nothing new. They’ve been putting on runners’ weekends since 1997 and Nordic Walkers’ weekends since 2000.

The next Nordic Walking weekend takes place  October 22-24 in Bad Düben, a nearby wellness resort community. This dedicated weekend intensive promises all manner of  health, nutrition and wellness information for runners and walkers is registered as a certified health course whose €222 cost for workshops, lodging and food is reimbursible by German health insurance.

I admire the German proactivity when it comes to good health by getting people moving and keeping them moving. No wonder Nordic Walking is so popular here!

Nordic Walking in Tubingen

 Nordic Walking classes easy to find, easy to join

The Nordic Walkers I have seen in southwestern Germany (but didn’t get to photograph because I was on a moving bus or something) all move with a purposeful pace and straight European style. No surprise, because this is, after all Europe. In fact, Germany, where people tend to learn correctly.

Nordic Walking instructor friends in the US tell me that many  people will come to one session, preferably free or very inexpensive, and when that is over, they are done.  I found indication of the reason that people here are so much more technically advanced in the medieval university town of Tübingen. The steep cobbled streets don’t lend themselves to Nordic Walking, but  paved recreation paths around town are ideal.  

A sign outside a business called Fit Durch Bewegung (which translates to Fit Through Movement) promotes Nordic Walking. A flyer lists eight Nordic Walking classes offered Saturday afternoons at 3:00 for €80 (approximately $125), including use of poles. Compare this with 10 sessions of back-strengthening exercises or of Aquajogging  for €75. It is my understanding that German health care pays for all of these programs, in full or in part.

I ducked into Fit Durch Bewegung while on a walking tour of the town, so I didn’t have time to do anything more than grab the price list. An Aquajogging class was going on in a small pool visible through a window in the vestibule. I would have loved to talk to Anette Diesselhorst who runs the enterprise to find out more. She has no website or even an E-mail address that I can find — just a prominent downtown location with a sign on the street. So just consider this informational and inspirational on what is available to Nordic Walkers elsewhere and how little effort seems required to promote it.

Black Forest: Nordic Walking Nirvana

Baiersbronn accommodates  Nordic Walkers

If you ever want confirmation that Germany is geared up for Nordic Walking, head to the Black Forest and especially to Baiersbronn,the largest town in the region that in itself consists of nine villages. It promotes itself as “Wanderhimmel,” which means hiking heaven. I think it is also Nordic Walking Nirvana. It is the jumping-off point for some 160 kilometers of signed Nordic Walking trails promoted as a Nordic Fitness Park. That’s more or less 100 miles.

A group of us — some using poles, others not — arrived at the railroad station to meet Patrick Schreib, the tourist office director, who led us from the trailhead along a stream called Schankenbach to Kniebis, the top of a short chairlift and a wonderful mountain hut. This fall walk on a wide, smooth trail offered views of foliage, late-blooming wildflowers, distant deer in a wildlife preserve, mushrooms and lovely scenery. Alas, there is nothing like this in the US, so if you want a Nordic Walking vacation, you’ll have to travel. I’m glad I did.

Baiersbronn's small railroad station includes a visitor information and hiking information center.
Guests who arrive before the info center opens or after it closes can get material from this automat.
Large trailhead map shows where you are and what your itinerary options are.


Trailhead signage also features illustrated technique information. The wide, smooth route begins by paralleling a lovely stream.
...whose bovine inhabitants might be along the route.


Of the flowers along the trail, the pink blossom that translates as "Japanese spring herb" was the loveliest. The blossom resembles a pink pea, and despite the name, was blooming in October.
Signs along theroute designate the named trail. Until recently, fall 2010 has been wet in the Black Forest, resulting in a fantastic display of various mushrooms right along the trail. I stopped to photograph a lot of them and wish I had a German mushroom book to ID them. More gentle width, even near the apex of our6-mile route.

IMHO, another reason to take a Black Forest walking vacation is that you don’t need a car. You can get there amazingly quickly by train from Frankfurt or Munich, and it you are overnighting, your local guest card provides free us of trains and buses. That means you can start at one trailhead, pull off at another and get back to your starting point. You just pay a nominal €1.80 tax for unlimited transportaion throughout the Black Forest region. Hard to beat, isn’t it?

If you have to wait for the next train or bus, there’s usually a little café or hütteto hang out until it comes — enjoying a coffee, a local sausage, a piece of pastray, wine or beer while you wait. Not a bad way to end a Nordic Walk.

 Spring and fall are the best Nordic Walking months. Summer can be steamy, and in winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are the alternatives. If you don’t want to ferry your snowshoes across the Altantic, Baiersbronn’s hiking center even rents them.

Baden-Baden’s Pleasing Panorama Trail

Forty-kilometer trail circles spa & suits Nordic Walkers


The Panorama Trail, which encircles Baden-Baden is the spa town’s signature trail and is also part of the massive Black Forest network of recreational trails for hiking, mountain biking, simply strolling to a pleasant sightseeing vantage point and, of course, Nordic Walking. I write “of course,” because it is a major sport and fitness activity in Germany

Numerous trailheads are accessible by car or even by public bus, either directly to the trailhead or to a bus stop on a city street not far away. Because it is divided into segments, it is easy to  escape from anywhere in town for a walk of any length.

Scoping out a route.

Wide and smooth trail is ideal for cranking along with walking poles.
One trailside amenity is the availability of folding beach loungers, free in the small one hut.
Some people hit the trails for exercise, others just to relax and take in the view.
Fall colors along the Panorama Trail.
A vineyard between the Panorama Trail and the city, easy to see en route back to town to meet the bus.

Aussies Plan Nordic Walking Trips to Austria

Two itineraries aimed at fitness walkers & leisure walkers

I have a T-shirt showing a road sign with an image of a kangaroo and a diagonal line through it and a acaption that reads: “No Kangaroos in Austria.” My then young-teen son brought it to me from a People to People exchange program to Europe. When I think of a group of Australians heading the Austria, that shirt comes to mind.

The Nordic Walking Academy, which brought a group to the Alps last year, is oganizing two back-to-back trips to  in June 2011, so there will be a bunch of folks from the land of the kangaroos to the Austria for a Nordic Walking itinerary in the Alps of Austria, German, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Dates: Leisure Tour (1½ to 3 hours of Nordic Walking daily) Monday, June 6 through Wednesday, June 15; Fitness Tour (2½ to 4+ hours of walking),  Saturday, June 18 through Monday, June 27.

Tour leaders Patrick Burtschler grew up in the Grosses Walsertal, a glorious UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in western Austria where the program is based, and Maree Farnsworth lived there with him for several years, to they know the territoryand speak the local dialect. Participants meet at the main railway station in the town of Feldkirch in western Austria, so it would hook in well with other travels in Europe. The cost of the trip does not include air fare, so there’s mostly likely no reason for Nordic Walkers from elsewhere not to sign up — except that they won’t participate in the 6-week preparation. Click here for details of the entire program including cost and signup deadlines — and enticing photos, and I wish I could include a larger version in this post than the one (above left) that I captured from their website. For more information, contact

Nordic Walking Notes

Ultra Walker Mike Gates on the Move Again

Australia’s Mike Gates, nicknamed “Walking Wizard” for his ultra-endurance Nordic Walks is reportedly planning to break his own Nordic Walking 36-hour nonstop record on August 5-7, when he is aiming for 48 hours of nonstop walking with poles. He set his previous record in 2006 on a street course and is planning to throw in some variety with 80% of the course on sandy beaches, bush routes and pathways through coastal villages. In addition to raising Nordic Walking’s profile, Gates will be raising money for Kids In Need,” (K.I.N), which assists seriously ill and disabled children with rehabilitation equipment, ongoing medical expenses for specialised treatment, therapeutic and  medical equipment to enhance the quality of the child’s life. Norman Trubik, one of several co-moderators for the Nordic Walking eCommunity, reports, “”On his previous marathons, Mike used conventional Poleabout strapped poles. This time he will be using strapless Exerstrider poles. Mike will also be wearing Vibram Five Fingers (KSO Treks). These two changes which will give some good feedback to the E-Community.”

Map My Run App Praised 

In a comment on the Nordic Walking eCommunity of which he is another of the co-moderators, Virginia-based Marek Zalewski, also Owner/Editor of Nordic Walking US, wrote, “if you already have a smart phone and no wrist-mounted GPS device, a great and free way is to download the free Map My Run app (runs on Android phones and iPhones). It will track your walk, draw it on the map and allow you to save it. You will get the distance, the average speed, etc.” Map My Run is also an eCommunity created for runners and joggers but also applicable for Nordic Walkers.

Nordic Walking in Your Own Backyard

Discovering a nearby route ideal for Nordic Walking is always a something of a thrill. Twin Cities instructor Rhea Kontos of Nordic Walk This Way recently posted an item on the Great Lakes Nordic Walkers blog extolling the benefits of 60-acre Caponi Art Park in Eagen, Minnesota. She exclaimed, “Suburbia, wooded, maintained, two abreast nature trails, and Free!” She knows her way around Nordic Walking venues in her area, but her delight at finding a new one is palpable.

DIY Poles: A Discussion

The Instructables is a site for do-it-yourself devotees. A discussion of Nordic Walking poles is interesting for equipment junkies and arguably for anyone interested in NW’s image. And for the record, I’m not advocating making your own when there are good, reasonably priced and sturdy walking poles on the market.

Nordic Walking on YouTube

A new (or new to me) Nordic Walking video on YouTube — in Italian:

Nordic Walking in Eastbourne

Nordic Walking Fitness in Eastbourne, UK, has an info-packed website and blog with links to Nordic Walking videos, and also offers monthly demos so that newbies can get a taste of Nordic Walking.

Nordic Walking Community Conjunction

June 12, 2010, was a landmark day in Nordic Walking cooperative efforts

Two significant Nordic Walking events occurred yesterday — not the introduction of a new kind of pole or the unveiling of yet another technique tweak, but one event and news of a new grassroots organization that underscore the commonality of different aspects of the Nordic Walking community. As I often say in conversation with people involved in Nordic Walking, whether instructors/trainers/educators or pole suppliers, I have no horse in this race. I don’t care which technique new Nordic Walkers learn or which poles they use. I have an ardent belief that Nordic Walking presents an opportunity to get outside and that poles add a fitness/cardio/upper body bonus to any walk. This is true for elderly people who gain stability and confidence from using poles to competitive walkers who are capable of marathon distance Nordic Walks and for the big bell curve of Nordic Walkers in between. It encourages me advocates of one particular technique or sellers of one particular pole brand find ways to work together to elevate the entire activity. That happened twice on June 12, 2010.

Nordic Walking Expo

Hyland Park in Bloomington, Minnesota, was the site of the second annual Nordic Walking Expo, an exposition — free and open to the public — to introduce Nordic Walking to a new constituency, to include Nordic Walking enthusiasts in the Twin Cities area and to underscore the social aspects of Nordic Walking as a small-group activity. I was unable to attend this year, but reports are that the weather, which started out clear and dry, unfortunately deteriorated as the day went on, but enthusiasm did not wane among those who stayed.

The Expo was both national and local in nature. Great Lakes Nordic Walkers, formed as a small pod of Twin Cities instructors, planned a local promotion. Nordic Walking North America, a US-Canadian group that started last year and put on the first annual Expo, was seeking a site for the second one. The local event became a national one, using the name Nordic Walking Expo, and the pattern is now established for future events.  NWNA president Malin Swenson and vice president Gary Johnson are already beginning to look at locations for 2011. If you have any suggestions, click here and submit your ideas via the comment form.

Equipment manufacturers and distributors, and Nordic Walking educators were on hand to present workshops and lead Nordic Walking classes. I was unable to attend this year, but I did participate by phone in a debriefing of sorts. I believe it was Suzanne Nottingham, a veteran fitness instructor and founder of Nordic Walking Now, who observed, “People were really smart and asked good questions. It was the first time at an event that people could pull me aside to talk. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Speaking from the local perspective, Linda “Nordic Walking Queen” Lemke, called the Expo a “thrilling event” and was enthusiastic about the presence of national leaders on the Nordic Walking scene. She also went on to describe some of the various programs she is involved with in the Twin Cities. Working with Hoigaard’s, a major outdoor sporting goods retailer, has provided a Lemke with a platform to work from and support for even modest individual outreach efforts. The concepts of some of the programs were fodder for thought among others at the meeting.

I don’t have attendance guesstimates or even any images, but when I receive some that I may share, I’ll do another post.

World Nordic Walking Federation

Also on June 12, the announcement came via the UK-based Nordic Walking eCommunity about a new grassroots organization called the World Nordic Walking Federation. The three well-known names spearheading this effort Marko Kantenev from Finland who first codified what has come to be called European-style Nordic Walking, Mike “Walking Wizard” Gates from Australia and America’s own pioneer, Tom Rutlin who developed Exerstrider poles and the  Exerstrider Method.

These big names from the Nordic Walking world  brainstormed this but Say they are minimally interested in “leading” anything and mostly interested in growing world-wide interest in Nordic Walking as a recreation, fitness and public-health activity.To that end, there will not be a board of directors but rather a board of servers who served the Nordic Walking community. Idealistic, perhaps, but hopefully also effective in bridging the Nordic Walking turf wars that in many ways retard the growth of the activity, especially in this country.There is no website yet, but it will be web-based organization.

The mission statement and other founding principle are as follows (this from the eCommunity site and presumably available for sites like this):


“The mission of the World Nordic Walking Federation is to unite member individuals, organizations and industry partners in educational, research and promotional projects aimed at increasing participation in Nordic Walking and thus creating a critically needed positive impact on public health on every continent around the globe. Our central focus will be on educating, empowering and encouraging people of all ages, abilities and means to enjoy a more active life, and in doing so prevent the onset of many of the epidemic diseases of sedentary living through regular enjoyment of the body, mind and spirit-nurturing benefits of Nordic Walking”. (end of statement)
Since service to the expanding Nordic Walking community is the mission of the WNWF, it is proposed that there be created a Board of Servers (as opposed to Board of Directors). While this board will by necessity help direct the early course of the Federation it is intended that a board consisting of those committed to serving the community would underscore the mission of the Federation on the premise that the power of the Federation is derived from serving the grass roots community. To this end, each Server will be expected to make a pledge to the community, as follows:


“As a member (of the Board of Servers ) of the World Nordic Walking Federation, I pledge to place the organization’s mission of service to the Nordic Walking community ahead of my personal and/or professional goals with a full understanding that a united effort fully committed to serving — rather than exploiting — the Nordic Walking community through the Federation’s stated mission is what is absolutely essential in order to bring about the maximum life-changing public health impact and participation in this fun, healthy, life-enriching physical activity on a global scale”. (end of pledge)

Work is currently ongoing to develop the mechanics of the organisation. A domain name has been allocated and a web site is under construction to serve as the focal point for information. At the same time, this forum will also provide updates on development and will facilitate discussion.

There will surely continue to be bumps in the Nordic Walking road, but I am greatly encouraged by two conduits for cooperation and communication regarding Nordic Walking,