Category Archives: Instruction

Pep Talk for Beginners

I belong to a wonderful UK-based cyber-community called eCommunity Nordic Walking I read the posts to keep up with news and concerns of Nordic Walkers, especially newbies, and participate less often than I’d like. In the last few days, there have again been posts from new Nordic Walkers who are afraid to get started, fearing that they have the “wrong” equipment or the “improper” technique. Here’s a paraphrase of what I posted there:

Before they even start, some people seem to get so hung up on the “right”technique and the “best” equipment that they don’t dare take their poles out of the house. Don’t be one of them. For most people, under most circumstances, Nordic Walking can be a fairly simple activity with fairly simple equipment. Get a good pair of shoes that fit right and are suitable for the weather where you live. The best choices (but not the only choices) are Nordic Walking shoes, walking shoes or trail-running shoes. Get a pair of poles (one-piece or adjustable) that feel comfortable in your hand and are within your budget — and, if one-piece, are the right length for your height.

Take a workshop or class if available (check with your local sporting goods or running store, YMCA/YWCA, hospital wellness/rehab program, rec center, adult education program or, if you are of an age, senior center). If you do sign up for a class, the instructor or coach will guide you through those first steps, including what, according to his or her training is, the angle of your elbow, the placement of the pole tip where it touches the ground, whether to open your hand on the backswing and if so, when to do so, and all sorts of other minutiae. If you can’t find a class, wing it. It’s better than leaving your poles inside. So watch a DVD and try to emulate it. Get a trainer, friend or partner with some fitness/PE/sports savvy to compare what you are doing with what the pro on the DVD is doing.

The basics are rather intuitive. Follow the (usually illustrated) instructions that came with your poles to hold them effectively. Avoid clamping your hands around the pole handles in a death grip, but hold them loosely and comfortably. Start walking, moving your arms and legs in opposition (right arm/left leg, left arm/right leg), just as in regular walking. Place each pole tip on the ground somewhere on a line between the heel of your forward foot and the toe of your back foot. Press down and back on the pole lightly as you “move through” the step. As you gain confidence, lengthen your stride, pick up the pace and put more pressure on the pole. For some people, this confidence comes in a few minutes, for some in a few hours and for some only after a number of walks.

Then, if you choose, you can go beyond that. Refine your technique by reading an instructional book, revisiting instructional DVDs or looking harder for an instructor — perhaps taking a vacation or weekend escape someplace with a Nordic Walking program. As you progress, tweak your equipment if you wish. Get some advanced training. Join a group. Start a group.

Once you gotten into the Nordic Walking habit, you will find yourself striding along, enjoying the feeling of freedom and reveling in the knowledge that you are doing something good for yourself, even if you aren’t using the”best” poles, the most prestigious footwear brand or using the most flawless technique. After all, Nordic Walking for health, wellness and pleasure is not a figure skating, diving or gymnastics competition. No one is going to mark you down for technical flaws. No one is going to be concerned with which model of which brand pole you are using, or what the logo on your footwear is.

Unless you are out to become a certified instructor or serious race competitor, don’t get so hung up on the minutiae that you are reluctant to begin Nordic walking and so worried about the details that you can’t enjoy the activity.

Technique Illustrations

If you are a visual person and a technique junkie, you might want to take a look at the clear illustrations of Nordic Walking technique on a German site by a German photographer (talented amateur or professional) who has recently begun Nordic Walking. There’s not a lot of prose, so it’s all pretty straightforward. Click the “Nordic Walking Technik” link for the entire sequence of the Nordic Walking movement. If it helps, Stockeinsatz means pole plant, Zugphase refers to pulling through with the arm, Schubphase is the push-off phase, Abdruckphase is the release of the rear pole and Vorschwungphase is the forward movement of the rear arm. Or just forget the words and look at the clear illustrations. The Nordic Walking Infos.de link accesses a list of sites and programs for Nordic Walking in Germany. The Wikpedia link, of course, brings up all sorts of info in German.

ANWA Adds Certification Sessions, Intro Classes

Coming right up is a series of Nordic Walking sessions led by master coach Gottfried Kürmer, including two newly added instructor certification seminars and introductory programs for those who wish to learn proper technique for their own benefit and pleasure. Having earned my Basic Instructor certification and been impressed by what it did for my own skills and knowlege, I previously posted my take on the benefits of participating in these programs; see my posts of May 12 and May 23.

In addition to previously announced certification seminars in Minneapolis (July 21-22) and Washington, DC (July 28-29), the American Nordic Walking Association has added full-day sessions in Philadelphia (July 26) and New York City (July 31). For the first time in the US, all four include both Basic and Advanced certification levels and $222.40 for ANWA members and $278 for non-members. All four also include Nordic Walking Guide workshops ($149 including use of poles) for those who wish to lead groups of Nordic Walkers but not teach or train.

Upcoming Intro to Nordic Walking classes ($25, including poles) are scheduled for Minneapolis/St. Paul (July 20 or 21), Philadelphia (July 25), Washington, DC (July 27 or 28), and New York (July 30).

For details on place and time at each venue or for on-line registration, go to ANWA’s website.

Clinics at "Nordic Lake Tahoe" & Vicinity

The opportunity presented to new Nordic Walkers in Colorado — namely, learning from one of the world’s top trainers — comes to the Reno/Lake Tahoe area this weekend (and to the Chicago area the weekend after that). See my two immediately preceding posts on this rare opportunity:

Nordic Walking Introductory courses with Master Trainer Gottfried Kürmer, $40
Thursday, May 17, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Zephyr Cove Resort & Marina, Highway 50, Zephyr Cove, NV

Friday, May 18, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Wingfield Park (meet at pedestrian bridge), Reno

Sunday, May 20, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Recreation Center, 980 Incline Way, Incline Village, NV

Monday, May 21, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon
Cable Car Building, Squaw Valley, CA (right)

Nordic Walking Basic & Advanced Certified Instructor Course, $278
Saturday, May 19, 12:30 to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday May 20, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Meet at Village Ski Loft, 800 Tahoe Boulevard, Incline Village, NV

For more information on any of these programs, call local Tahoe area host, Reinhild Moeller at 775-831-6726. To register for any of these Nordic Walking courses, please go to the American Nordic Walking Association website.

I’m Off to See the (Nordic Walking) Wizard

I’m about to head out to observe an American Nordic Walking Association certification clinic put on by master trainer Gottfried Kürmer. I’m very interested in how the trainers who train us themselves are trained, if you get my drift. Stay tuned. I’ll report back.

Meanwhile, if you are in the Denver-Boulder and are interested in an introductory workshop with Gottfried, you have a very few more opportunities before he wings back to Europe. Three classes scheduled for Monday, May 14, will be at:

Anthem Ranch at Broomfield Community Center (CO-7 and Lowell Boulevard; SW corner of Lowell)
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

City Park Bandstand, west side of Ferril Lake (near 17th amd Steele Street), Denver
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Central Park Bandshell, (Broadway and Canyon), Boulder
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Registration is on the ANWA website. The cost for each 90-minute class is $40, including use of poles. Upon completion of each class, participants will receive $10 back. Two pairs of Nordic Walking poles valued at $100 will be raffled off in each class. Class size is limited to 20 for each session.

Nordic Walking Classes Coming to Metro Denver

I try to make this blog national and even international in scope, reflecting Nordic Walking’s range. But as a Coloradan, I take special interest in events close to home. Between May 10 and May 14, the American Nordic Walking Association will be offering a series of introductory classes with master coach Gottfried Kürmer, ANWA’s director of education. The organization’s mission is to promote Nordic Walking — and part of the way it seeks to do that is by training and certifying Nordic Walking instructors, much as other fitness organizations do. These workshops, while more expensive than the usual introductory program, gives beginning Nordic Walkers the opportunity to learn from a high-level coach to other trainers in Europe, where it is an established part of the fitness picture.

The Denver area schedule is:

Thursday May 10
Central Park Bandshell (Broadway and Canyon), Boulder
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Lion’s Park Parking lot (1300 10th St.), Golden
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Dry Creek Trail near Westminster Rec Center City Park parking lot near soccer fields (105th and Sheridan)
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 13
Washington Park parking lot (Downing and Exposition), Denver
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Monday, May 14
Anthem Ranch at Broomfield Community Center (CO-7 and Lowell Boulevard; SW corner of Lowell) 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

City Park Bandstand, west side of Ferril Lake (near 17th amd Steele Street), Denver
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Central Park Bandshell, (Broadway and Canyon), Boulder
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

The cost for each 90-minute class is $40, including use of poles. Upon completion of each class, participants will receive $10 back. Two pairs of Nordic Walking poles valued at $100 will be raffled off in each class. Class size is limited to 20 for each workshop. To register, visit www.anwa.us and click on “Introductory Workshops” or call 800-977-9348.

Additionally, an all-day instructor certification course has been scheduled for Saturday, May 12, at Anthem Ranch by Del Webb (16583 Las Brisas Drive, Broomfield). The cost is $278, and the course is limited to 30 participants. To register, you can also go to www.anwa.us but click on “Certification Seminars” or call (310) 388-0344. After the Denver area, introducatory and certification programs are also scheduled for Incline Village, NV, on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, (May 19-20); Schaumburg, IL, near Chicago (May 26-27) and Santa Monica, CA (June 9-10 and perhaps a one or more days after that).

Nordic Walking in New York

I’m in New York right now, where the standing water from recent record rains is subsiding and precipitation has scaled down from torrential downpours to occasional drizzles. A series of four Nordic Walking sessions in Central Park kicked off last week and continues every Monday from 6:00 to 7:15.m. through the end of the month. Annette Lang is leading groups that meet at the North Meadow Recreation Center (mid-park at 97th Street). Four sessions cost $75 ($65 for members of the Central Park Conservancy), including use of Exel poles. It’s too late to sign up for these for, but call 212-348-4867 for more information on when others might be scheduled.

In any event, Central Park and also Riverside Park are wonderful, beautifully landscaped green spaces whose miles of wide paved paths traditionally lure walkers, runners, in-line skaters, cyclists and stroller-pushers. Now, I’m expecting to see more Nordic Walkers every time I return.

Michgan Senior Expo to Feature Free Nordic Walking

Some years ago, I visited Traverse City, MI, for a winter assignment. I went skiing at several nearby downhill ski areas and cross-country skiing on the splendid Vasa Trail. I heard also wonderful things about Nordic skiing at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (rightt), so I went there too. It was March, however, so the snow was gone. I went for a poleless walk on the gorgeous sand beach of a national recreation holding that I had never heard of before. I wasn’t the only one strolling there. Now, with the growing popularity of Nordic Walking, the lakeshore becomes prime real estate for Nordic Walkers.

The town’s upcoming Senior Expo, called “Ideas For Life,” will include free Nordic Walking clinics. It will take place on Wednesday, June 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Traverse City Civic Center; not just locals but also visitors are also welcome. Pete Edwards (left), Nordic Walking coach and owner and founder of skiwalking.com, will conduct the clinics. Seniors not only fine Nordic Walking to be good exercise, but the poles are reassuring for anyone with balance and stability issues, including those with multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s. Skiwalking.com also distributes the Swix VIP Nordic Walking pole.

Like many Nordic Walking advocates, Edwards likes to remind people that “over six million Europeans of all ages and fitness levels are Nordic Walking every day. It is surprising that more Americans haven’t embraced this amazing new fitness activity that turbo charges the normal walking regimen.” With Michigan-based Edwards spreading the Nordic Walking gospel in his state, and especially at events like Traverse City’s “Ideas for Life” expo, I’ll bet more and more Nordic Walkers will be striding across the Sleeping Bear Dunes’ sandy shore

Edwards relates the story of “one lady [who] called during the fall of 2004 and asked if the poles would help improve her balance problems stemming from an inner ear issue. Edwards told her he wasn’t sure, but 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 Swix VIP Nordic Walking Poles for over two years.”

He also relates a story from a previous Nordic Walking clinic in Traverse City, held at The Fitness Center, where he met Michelle Honer. who had signed up to participate in one of his 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,” Edwards relates. “Her first Ski Walk was only a few blocks down and back. Within several weeks, she was covering about two miles in one hour. For seven prior years Michelle had ridden an electric scooter in the Traverse City MS Walk. The last couple years Michelle has Ski Walked 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. My walking poles’ one-piece design is so much better than my old adjustable poles that broke unexpectedly at an extremely inconvenient time,” Honer has been quoted as saying.

Leki Website Links to Nordic Walking Resources

German pole-maker Leki maintains a good Nordic Walking resources list on its website, listing Nordic Walking events organized by date and instructors listed by state. Click on the “information” column on the events list to send E-mails to organizers for more info. The instructors list includes location and E-addresses so that you can contact them directly for workshop, lesson or group-walk details. I believe that the list comprises American Nordic Walking Association-certified instructors. Of the 22 states currently represented, California, not surprisingly, leads the nation with 32 instructors on the Leki list. Suzanne Nottingham, a well-known, California-based fitness instructor and author, has joined the Leki team to promote Nordic Walking’s health and fitness benefits.

Sporting Goods Retailers to Sample Nordic Walking

If you suddenly find more sporting goods stores carrying Nordic Walking poles and accessories in coming months, it might just be because owners, managers and buyers participated in early morning wake-up Nordic Walking clinics during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, an annual trade show next taking place January 27-29, 2007, in Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center (right).
Leki, the equipment sponsor of these clinics, will lend poles to participants. Trained instructors will gude Nordic Walks of different intensity from a 10-minute taste to a 30-minute workout. Retailers will get the same message that they will in turn give to their customers: No prior experience is necessary, and if you can walk, you can Nordic Walk.