Category Archives: Groups

When’s The Best Time for a Daily Walk? explores the options

Unless is really cold (0 or below), really rainy (rare on Colorado’s Front Range) or really blizzarding (also rare, and when it is, shoveling is aerobic and strengthening), it’s morning for me. First I do a light workout at home, and then my neighbor, Vivian, and I go for a two-mile walk at 7:00 every weekday morning. I grab a pair of poles, and though I’ve offered her loaners, she walks empty-handed. We have been doing this for more than 15 years. But is it the “best” time of day to walk? For us it is, because neither of us generally has a conflict at that time of morning.

Wendy Baumgardner,’s “walking guide,” tackled the topic a few months ago in a piece called “The Best Time of Day to Walk and Exercise.” According to her sources, researchers say 6:00 p.m. is ideal, and maybe it is for people not coming home from work (or not still working), not preparing dinner, not eating dinner, not urging children to get their homework done or anything else that generally happens in the early evening. Walking before the day gets away from many of us is ideal — and for Vivian and me, our regular time has become ingrained. If you find it hard to make time for a daily walk, find a walking companion or small group. My friend, Marcia, and a group of women in Corte Madera, California, get out and walk every weekday morning too.

“The Way” Inspires Walking Tourism

Martin Sheen on screen is paving the way for American tourists to walk across northern Spain

When Eat, Pray, Love became a bestseller and then a movie, American women (in particular) headed for Italy, India and Indonesia to find themselves and their soulmates. Sheen carries a single picturesque wooden walking pole, but of course, modern-day pilgrims are likely to use a pair of poles. In any case, what author Elizabeth Gilbert and movie star Julia Roberts did for those three I-countries (was that intentional?, I wonder), “The Way” will doubtless do for the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. It stars Martin Sheen and is less of a chick flick than EPL, so men as well as women will most likely be motivated to follow the fabled pilgrimage route, known in English as the Way of St. James.

The Plot: Sheen is an American doctor named Tom who goes to France to retrieve the ashes of his grown son who died during a storm while walking the ancient pilgrimage route (a Roman route before that) to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. In his grief and to honor his son’s personal mission, he decides to walk the same ancient spiritual trail where his son perished. Carrying his son’s pack, he embarks on a journey that ultimately includes encounters with others from around the world, some of whom are also lost or grieving, and seeking for greater meaning or spirituality in their lives. Call it Canterbury Tales for the 21st century.

The Prediction: American travelers (in particular) will start looking at northern Spain as they never did before. By mountain bike, on horseback, in organized tours complete with sag wagons but especially on foot, they will follow the path that Christian pilgrims have followed for more than a millennium. It has been designated a European Cultural Route and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at roughly 750 kilometers for the whole route, surely the longest, skinniest such “site.”

Actor Martin Sheen in a scene from "The Way."

The Pilgrimage Route: There is not just one El Camino de Santiago (the well-known Spanish name, or O Camiño de Santiago in Galacian, Chemin de St-Jacques in French, Jakobsweg in German, O Caminho de Santiago in Portuguese and Done Jakue bidea in Basque, which is useful to know since the long route crosses the Pyrenees, Sheen’s fictional son perished). The four main tourist/pilgrim routes start in various places and measure out to various distances, All are are well mapped, marked with a scallop symbol, documented in media from books to blogs, and on film and video. Churches, inns and other simple places of refuge where pilgrims can spend the night, have a meal and wash are the traditional accommodations, but greater comfort is available in hotels along the way too.

The splendid Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where St. James is believed to be bured and the goal of an ancient pilgrimage route.

The Passport & The Certificate: Much like the National Park Service’s popular passport that can be stamped at all NPS units, there is a Compostela passport called the credencial (or something like that). Collect stamps along the way to earn the compostela, a certificate of accomplishment given to those who arrive at the cathedral after walking a minimum of 100 kilometers (roughly 60 miles) or bicycling at least 200 kilometers. To earn it, many walkers make their way to Sarria by bus or train, and head out from there. A daily Pilgrim’s Mass at noon includes the “Hymn to Santiago” synchronized with the swinging of the Botafumeiro, an enormous metal incensory above the pilgrims’ heads.

The Tour Packages: Something like 150,000 pilgrims have completed the route in recent years, but I’m betting interest soars. As the film gains traction, additional tours will be added and more tour operators will get into the game, adding “The Way” package options. Here are a couple that can be booked now:

  • Sentiers de France’s self-guided 12-day program from Puy en Velay. Basic walking tour with lodging in 1- and 2-star hotels; “comfort” tour with lodging in 2- and 3-star “charming” hotels with some meals.
  • Marly Tours walking and bicycling itineraries include lodging, support vehicle, luggage transfer, itinerary, security and some meals, but pilgrims travel independently.
  • Fresco Tours has a dozen scheduled 10-day, 9-night walking tours for small groups between April and October 2012; included are ground transportation, lodging, meals, support vehicle and guide.

Nordic Walking Notes from Colorado

Boulder County leads the way with programs for beginners & beyond

Is Nordic Walking finally getting a toehold in Colorado? I certainly hope so. I was delighted when I saw a front page story on May 23  in the Denver Post’s Fitness section called “Take Your Workout to the Great Outdoors.” There was a photo of Annette Tannander-Bank leading a Nordic Walking class — not walking in that particular shot but doing lunges with poles for stability as part of the warm-up, strengthening and cool-down exercises that instructors favor, and that people like me don’t bother with. I’m more of a grab-and-go walker. I grab my poles and I go.

Annette coaching a beginning Nordic Walker in proper arm position at North Boulder Park.

The Post piece was about outdoor workouts in general, and reporter Sheba K. Wheeler listed 20 in the metro area. Of those, several were walking programs including some specificially Nordic Walking. One was a one-day intro last Saturday, but the following are still available. 

  • Intermediate Nordic Walking, Annette leads two classes on Mondays at 12:00 noon at Boulder’s  Scott Carpenter Park and on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. at North Boulder Park. Walk-in fee is $10 or a Rallysport Health & Fitness Club punch card., plus $5 for optional pole rentals. 303-449-4800.
  • Nordic Walking, introductory program offered the first and third Saturdays of every month. Meet at Fleet Feet Sports, 2624 Broadway (at Alpine), Boulder. $5 walk-in fee; participants may borrow poles from the store. 303-939-8000.
  • Nordic Walking, Tuesdays, 6-7 p.m. from June 14-July 5, and Thursdays, 8-9 a.m., June 16-July 7. No drop-ins. $42 for residents and $48 for non-residents, including use of poles. Broomfield Recreation Center, Broomfield County Commons, 13200 Sheridan Boulevard, Broomfield.

Paley’s Pole Presentations at REI

'Poles for Balance & Mobility' DVD.

On Wednesday, June 9, Jayah Faye Paley, creator of two DVDs on walking with poles, will be at Boulder’s REI giving two free presentations — one on each DVD. From 3:45-5:15 p.m., the topic is balance, mobility and functional walking showing people with with mobility issues can use poles to improve gait, posture, endurance, function and  strength. That class is full, indicating how much of a need there is for it. From 6:30-8:00 p.m., shedemonstrates how to expand hiking horizons and improve health with poles.

Paley is based in Pacifica, California, where she runs Adventure Buddies, which promotes use of the outdoors (including Nordic Walking) and creating a network of people who enjoy outdoor recreation for health and fitness. She is also a personal trainer and mobility coach , using poles to help people stay as active as they can as long as they can under a program called Poles for Mobility.

ANWA in Colorado

As part of its nationwide schedule, the American Nordic Walking Association presents three levels of training and certification to the Denver area in mid-July. The four-hour Nordic Walking Guide Workshop ($149) for people who want to lead primarily groups of social Nordic Walkers, July 16; eight-hour Basic Instructor Training & Certification Seminar ($236 for registration before June 16, $355 after, $284 for ANWA members); July 16-17, 12-hour Advanced Instructor Training & Certification Seminar for those holding Basic certification ($288 for registration before June 16, $45 after, $360 for ANWA members). Denver area location to be announced.

Free Nordic Walking Instruction in Florida

Instructor Lori Clinch is ratcheting up her efforts to promote Nordic Walkers in Polk County

Pole Walking Polk Co. is recruiting healthy and social walkers interested in local non-competetive community walking events. In general, she is eager to promote Nordic Pole Walking in Polk County for the health, fitness and rehabilitative benefits, as well as enhance the walking experience and maximize the workout of the participants. In a broader sense, she wants to nourish the development of an active Nordic Walking “team” of individuals enthusiastic for the sport, and to network neighboring Nordic Walkers so everyone who wants to has someone to walk with and to meet new people. Such a group would also appeal to people who want the company of other like-minded health/recreation individuals in preparing for non-competitive, 3K, 5K and 10K’s charitable walks.  

She offers free Nordic Walking instruction, incuding free use of poles. Getting started requires a commitment of three hours to learn the Beginner Basic Techniques, and a then a commitment to participate in a minimum of three community walks (within 20 miles of Lakeland) in the year 2011, the first one being within six weeks of the instructional sessions. She is also willing to offer team training in other localities (such as St. Pete) for a group of 8 to 10 individuals at one time for a three-hour instructional workshop, rather than three one hour lessons. For more information, contact her at 863-268-4404  or

Free BYOB Nordic Walk in Florida Tomorrow

Lindy Speizer Smith with LEKI Nordic Walking poles and a comfy, flattering Skort.

Lindy “Walk With Lindy” Smith has organized a free BYOB walk tomorrow,  at Lakes Park in or near Fort Myers tomorrow, meeting on Saturday January 29 at 9:00 a.m. First, the group will do some of what she calls “my world famous full body warm-ups,” followed by a Nordic Walk to fit all levels of speed. Around 10:00, a.m. after the group walk, Lindy will grab a shelter and sit down, schmooze and have breakfast. BYOB means Bring Your Own Breakfast, but Lindy warns, “If you bring a donut, you have to walk faster and farther!”

If you’re in the area and haven’t yet registered, drop an E-note to, including your name, beverage choice (coffee, tea or bring your own beverage) and whether you need to borrow demo poles (she has a dozen pairs to lend out — first come, first served).

Snowshoe with Colorado’s Most Engaging Winter Guide

Wild Bear Mountain Nature Center’s nature tour with “Bigfoot?”

Follow Dave “Snowshoe” Felkley on a leisurely snowshoe tour, and you’ll learn a lot about Rocky Mountain winter ecology and have a totally great time while you’re at it. Felkley leads a hike on behalf of the Wild Bear Nature Center this Saturday (and again February 12 and 26) from 10 :00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Mud Lake Open Space area just off Peak to Peak Highway, north of Nederland.  The hike is free and the use of snowshoes is free, but the chance to snowshoe with Bigfoot is priceless.

Dave Felkley (far right) and a group of Wild Bear Nature Center snowshoers.

Felkley regularly leads kids’ snowshoe hikes for the Wild Bear Nature Center and for the local seniors’ organization, so he’s adept at pacing the tour according the participants’ stamina, ability and interest.  If you don’t have your own snowshoes  call 303-258-0495 or email to reserbe snowshoes and find out where to meet.

Snowshoeing & Stargazing at North Lake Tahoe

Orion nebula, theme of upcoming North Lake snowshoe astronomy hike.

The Tahoe Adventure Company has scheduled a guided Astronomy Snowshoe Trek  for Saturday, January 22 in Tahoe Vista. The hike, titled “Orion the Hunter a Birthplace of Stars,” is led by professional astronomer Tony Berendsen and includes hot drinks and snacks. Cost is $75/person.

P.O. Box 8536,  Tahoe City, CA 96145;  530-913-9212, 866-830-6125

From the Snowbelt to the Sunbelt

Lori Clinch Adams follows Lindy Speizer Smith to Florida — differnt places, different reasons, but still teaching & leading Nordic Walking

Lindy Speizer Smith, who as LEKI USA’s marketing mavenette helped put Nordic Walking on the North American fitness map, moved from Buffalo to Florida a couple of years back. I wrote about her leadership in bringing Nordic Walking to the Fort Myers area. Click here to read it.  Her company, Walk With Lindy,  offers instruction, encouragement and inspiration in southwest Florida. Among her upcoming events is the B.Y.O.B. Walk, a free group  where participants are told to “bring your own breakfast.” If you’re in the area, click here to find out more and/or register. 

Now Lori Clinch Adams, who calls herself a health adventure coach and is likewise a Nordic Walking promoter and enthusiast, has moved from Idaho to Florida. She has morphed her former business (and website) Treasure Valley Nordic Walking Adventures in Idaho and Oregon into Nordic Pole Walking in Polk County Florida. She’s a certified instructor and master trainer. She is offer classes, workshops and all sorts of encouragement to the fine folks of Polk County, smack in the middle of the fat part of Florida. Her new website is full of images (like that on the left) and also a YouTube video. Check it out. To connect with her, call 863-268-4404 or email

Post-Thanksgving Nordic Walk in Oak Park

Personal trainer and Nordic Walking instructor Nancy Trock of  T-Renegade Fitness is leading a free Walk-It-Off the day after Thanksgiving Nordic Walking. She’ll meet the group on the plaza outside of the main Oak Park Library (Illinois) at 10:30 a.m for about a one-hour walk. BYOP (Bring Your Own Poles). I’m not sure whether she wants partipants to sign up in advance, but she does give her contact information: 708- 699-4663 or

Nancy is onto something. We probably should all plan to pull out our poles on November 26 and go for a walk — an hour at a minimum — by ourselves, with our walking group or with an instructor like Nancy.

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.