Category Archives: Organization

ANWA Nordic Walking in October

Gottfried Kürmer returns to US to teach and train on both coasts

I don’t think I’ve ever gone two weeks without posting on this blog, but I’ve had killer article deadlines and a little “distraction” called the Fourmile Canyon Fire, which scorched more than 6,000 acres in the foothills west of Boulder and even had us under a possible mandatory evacuation alert. We live on the west side of town, and strong winds could have driven the fire over a ridge or two right into town. We packed up, ran the sprinklers to wet down what we could and waited for the reverse 911 call that never came. In the meantime, I’ve neglected this blog, for which I apologize.

It’s quite appropriate that I restart with the news that the American Nordic Walking Association is bringing master coach Gottfried Kürmer back to the US in October. When I seriously started research for Nordic Walking: The Complete Guide to Health Fitness and Fun, Kürmer came to Colorado, and I spent a day getting my instructor certification. I never intended to teach, but it was immersion into classic European technique. 

Kürmer will be in Baltimore, October 22-24 and in Los Angeles October 29-31. Courses offered are Nordic Trekking and Weight Loss Workshop, Nordic Fitness Workshop for Nordic Blading and Skike, Nordic Walking Guide Workshop and ANWA certification workshops for Basic, Advanced and Professional Instructor levels.

According to the ANWA website, the Trekking/Weight Loss workshop “will focus on combining Nordic Fitness with Europe’s revolutionary new weight-loss and body-shaping tool Wrap’nGo.” It including an assortment of lotions and potions, plus a wrap belt, wrap suit and several foil suits, which gives you an idea of how it aims to help people accomplish weight loss. Click here for more details. In the US, a Wrap’nGo system sells for $749.50, which is not a trivial purchase. I am not sure how it can be incorporated into a one-day workshop.

Downer Applauds INWA Outreach

Transatlatic agreement on INWA’s new collegiality

Yesterday, I cheered at the news that the International Nordic Walking Association is evidently opening its upcoming 2010 convention to different voices. If you haven’t read it yet, scroll down to my immediately preceding optimistic post. David Downer, a Nordic Walking instructor, Author of a technique book called Nordic Walking Step by Step and an acknowledged NW E-communications pioneer in Great Britain, shares my enthusiasm for this turn of events. He permitted me to repost his comments on the Nordic Walking eCommunity that he established, owns and co-moderates:

“History in the making?

I have just had it confirmed that Tom Rutlin CEO of Exerstrider Nordic Walking (recognized by many as the founding father of our industry); has been invited (and has accepted) an official invitation from INWA (International Nordic Walking Association) to be one of the “Keynote Speakers” at INWA’s forthcoming 10th Anniversary Event to be held in Riga, Latvia.

“This for me will indeed be a historic day in the annals of our industry and one that will surely go along way to healing old wounds and moving this industry forward in a very positive way. This is just the boost that our industry needs.

“Huge kudos to INWA for this invitation. I’m thrilled for Tom and I am thrilled that INWA have extended the hand of friendship in this way.

“Nordic Walking will never thrive until ‘everyone’ starts pulling together… Let’s hope we can look back in the future to the day when Tom Rutlin gave his first keynote speech at an INWA convention, as a day that changed the direction of this industry for the better.

“I am delighted that so many INWA leaders will get to hear Tom speak. Tom is a great educator and an absolute gentleman and I am honored to be able call him my friend!

“It’s ‘Team Work That Will Make the Dream Work!

“David Downer
Forum Owner / Co-Moderator

INWA at 10 Years

Sea change pending at International Nordic Walking Association

The International Nordic Walking Association, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, has a convention coming up September 23-26 in Riga, Latvia, and Otepaa, Estonia. From an interested observor’s point of view (that would be me), this convention for Nordic Walking trainers at all levels and other fitness professionals will see a shift in the small world of Nordic Walking. I think of this shift that has the potential to be as major as the early cracks in the Iron Curtain proved to be for the politics, identities and economies host nations. So by major, I mean MAJOR.

In addition to Exel, the Finnish pole company that pioneered Nordic Walking in Europe and is an expected sponsor of the convention, another is Gymstick, a newer conmpany that makes Nordic Walking poles, including aqua-fitness and other non-traditional applications. Equally significant, or perhaps even more so, INWA has invited Tom Rutlin, who pioneered fitness walking with his Exerstrider poles on this side of the pond, to be a keynoter at this convention. (Remember that Exerstriders are strapless poles, and Rutlin’s Exerstrider Method is somewhat different from the technique taught using poles with straps. But I have always felt that to people with a little distance from all this, the similarities are greater than the differences.)

The North American Nordic Walking Association, headed by president Malin Svensson who herself teaches Nordic Walking in the INWA mode, set an ecumenical model for European traditionalists by inviting Rutlin to participate and present at the first and second annual Nordic Walking Expos in North America. In fact, NWNA welcomed everyone who has a variation on teaching/training/technique and equipment. Rutlin was quick to accept, and to the credit of all pros who presented at both Expos, open-mindedness and mutual respect reigned.

INWA also promises that the convention will include the launch of their new INWA 10-step methodology, plus technical workshops, product clinics and networking — and it was networking that proved to be invaluable at the NWNA Expos in opening eyes and opening minds. I hope that the inclusion of Gymstick and Exerstrider (and perhaps other innovators) on the program is not just for show and that they signal a major move toward genuine inclusiveness, and I look forward to the reports that come out of the 2010 INWA convention.

To the average recreational Nordic Walker who goes out with a pair of poles and gets stronger, leaner and healthier, none of this is really of great importance. But to those who want to share their pleasure and find Nordic Walking companions, the significance is down the road a bit. IMHO, the greater the cooperation, the greater public acceptance of Nordic Walking of all stripes and the greater the number of participants, the better. So hats off to INWA for inviting Tom Rutlin and hats off to Tom for crossing the ocean to give a keynote address. I wish I could be there.

Nordic Walking Expo Photos

Nordic Walking Expo II in pictures
With many thanks to Linda “Nordic Walking Queen” Lemke, here are some images from Saturday’s second annual Nordic Walking Expo in Hyland Park (Bloomington, Minnesota). Annette Tannander-Bank, a Colorado-based trainer and Nordic Walking instructor who, like Nordic Walking North America president Malin Svensson, is originally from Sweden often says, “In Sweden, there’s no such thing as bad weather. Only the bad clothing for the weather.” It’s a belief shared by many Minnesotans too, who put on raingear, grabbed poles and took advantage of the experts and equipment who came to them:
Read first-hand reports about this Expo from people who were there: Linda Lemke, and Rhea Kontos of Nordic Walking This Way.  

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,

Upcoming Nordic Walking Classes in Colorado

Recreational, guide and instructor training classes scheduled

I Nordic Walk year-round in Boulder, and I keep expecting this sport/fitness/outdoor activity to skyrocket in Colorado. It may not be skyrocketing, but it is growing at a deliberate pace. Right off the bat, I can think of several people right in my orbit who would benefit greatly from using poles but don’t.

A friend and neighbor and go for a two-mile walk every morning. I use poles. She doesn’t, and while she is a fast energetic walker, she periodically mentions an ouchy back. We often see another neighbor who is hunched over from osteoporosis, has spindly little arms and walks gamely with an awkward gait. She owns poles, took one class and never uses them. When I see her across the street, I raise my poles overhead and click them together to remind her. A writer colleague who was in a Foot Solutions class I joined when they were in town also owns poles — and also never uses them. She keeps intending to. Finally, still another neighbor, an octogenarian whom I can occasionally lure out on a brief walk up and down the block does bring her poles along. She acknowledges that they provide balance and stability, but unless I coax her outside, her only walking is from the house to the car and back for appointments with various doctors and her hairdresser, and an almost daily lunch out with her husband.

No excuses or reasons will hold any water at all, since this area offers several opportunities to learn Nordic Walking and hook up with companions for future walks.

Boulder Parks and Rec

The Boulder Parks and Rec’s Summer 2010 catalog is out now. It features one — just one — Nordic Walking class. Five classes are offered on  consecutive Thursdays between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. from June 3 through July 1. “All levels are welcome,” states the catalog, which would make it ideal for those two women who have poles but don’t use them. If there is only to be one, the East Boulder Community Center (left) is the ideal place. It houses both the East Boulder Recreation Center (pools, gyms, yoga studio, dance studio, weight room, etc.) and the East Boulder Senior Center. Excellent paved recreation paths are right outside the door.

The Nordic Walking five classes cost is $35 for residents, $45 for non-residents, including use of poles for those who don’t have their own. Register in person at any of the city’s three rec centers, online or by calling 303-413-7270.

Fleet Feet Sports

Fleet Feet Sports is a North Boulder running store (and as far as I know, the only Boulder retailer to carry Nordic Walking poles) that continues to offer low-cost classes on the first and third Saturdays of each month. Click here for my post and photos about such a clinic last June. Then, it was free. Now, the  cost is $5, including use of poles.

American Nordic Walking Association

The American Nordic Walking Association has scheduled guide and instructor training in the Denver area, July 17-18. Three levels of training are to be offered: 

  • Nordic Walking Guide , $149, July 17
  • Nordic Walking Basic Instructor, from $236 for early-bird ANWA member registration to $355 for non-members, July 17-18
  • Nordic Walking Advanced Instructor, from $288 for early-bird ANWA member registration to $40 for non-members, July 17-18 

The location will be announced. Go the the ANWA website for details about what to bring and what participants get for their registration fee. The site also lists other Nordic Walking guide and instructor training and certification clinics in the U.S. and Canada. When I was researching my Nordic Walking book, I was invited to the ANWA Basic Instructor Course, which was given by Gottfriend Kuermer, who was but no longer seems to be ANWA’s master trainer. Click here for my post and photos from that two-day session.


Spring Training for Nordic Walking

Guide and instructor training seminars posted on organizations’ websites

Spring training starts on April 10. The phrase means one thing in baseball and another thing entirely in Nordic Walking, where spring brings a wave of programs and events, including intro levels to advanced instructor training certification programs in North America. I am going to save myself a lot of typing and point you to schedules that I know about. Just click on the links to find the dates, times, certification levels and costs. Keep checking these websites, because it is possible that programs might be added.

American Nordic Walking Association

ANWA offers programs at Nordic Walking Guide, Basic Instructor, Advanced Instructor and Professional Instructor levels. The schedule begins and ends in Los Angeles, where ANWA is located. The first is on April 10-11 and the last on December 11-12. In between, they will be offered across the US and also in Vancouver, Canada. The photo above is from ANWA.

Exerstride Method Nordic Walking

EMNW, the technique associated with Exerstrider poles, does not have any instructor training courses scheduled at the moment, but you can click here to check on future events or contact them at contact either us at (put “Instructor Training” in the subject line), indicate where you live and in which major cities you you might be able to attend an instructor-training event

International Nordic Walking Association
The schedule currently up on INWA‘s website begins April 10-11 in Portland, Oregon, and runs through June 12-13 in Seattle. Weekends in between include Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis, Dallas, Montreal and here in beautiful Boulder, Colorado.

Nordic Walk Now

Nordic Walking Now  also starts its full on April 10 in Honolulu and continues through September 12 in Wisconsin. Options are the Walk to Live leadership workshop and Instructor Training. There was an instructor training program at the Body and Mind Conference last month in Chico, California, introducing a special interest community to the sport.

Canadian Nordic Walking Assocation

In addition to ANWA and INWA instructor courses respectively in Vancouver and Montreal, CNWA offers Nordic Group Leader certificaition on request. Contact Gerry Faderbauer, 905-713-264 or

Second Annual Nordic Walking Expo, June 12

Twin Cities hosts second annual Nordic Walking event

Details have yet to be ironed out, but the second annual Nordic Walking Expo is on the books for June 12, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at Hyland Lake Park Preserve in Bloomington, Minnesota. The multi-faceted facility is part of the impressive Three Rivers Park District, whose GreenFit Club encourages people to “ditch the gym”  and exercise outdoors.

Initially scheduled and organized as a local expo by Twin Cities Nordic Walking instructors Linda Lemke and Rhea Kontos with Amy Okaya and Midwest Mountaineering’s Brian Glader, it is attracting other partners and rapidly mushrooming into a big deal in the small world of Nordic Walking. The core group’s efforts can be tracked under the auspices of Great Lakes Nordic Walkers, and now the North American Nordic Walking Association is also partnering in the event. This umbrella organization organized the first Nordic Walking Expo in Santa Monica last June, and their involvement has elevated it to “second annual” status. Walking Guide’s Top US Walks

Wendy Bumgardner lists Volkssport enthusiasts’ 10 faves

Wendy Bumgardner polled “select members” of the American Volkssport Association to find these members’ top choices for walking trails for 2009. Her post briefly describes the venues and includes links to specific club sites and further information in each area. Scroll down to the bottom of the list for previous years’ lists. The AVA, a national group organizes some 1,700 self-guided walks and is dedicated to walking for health and companionship. I don’t know whether the members’ top 10 are in order of preference or random, but they are distributed around the country. Here they are, so grab your poles and give ’em try if/when you’re in the neighborhood::

1. Silver Falls, Oregon
2. Great Allegheny Passage, Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania
3. Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
4. Colorado Springs Garden of the Gods, Colorado (photo above)
5. Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
6. Truckee River Trail, Reno, Nevada
7. Celebration, Florida
8. German Village, Columbus, Ohio
9. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
10. Sacramento, California

Stirrings in the Nordic Walking Pot

Outreach in North America and a new magazine in England

It seems as if the loose Nordic Walking community is seeking new connections and new communication. If Nordic Walking is ever to take off on this continent, more such initiatives are needed.

Nordic Walking Expo Planned for Minnesota in June

Great Lakes Nordic Walkers, a new group started by Twin Cities instructors that I wrote about recently, has already announced its first event: the Great Lakes Nordic Walkers Expo on June 12, 2010, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at Hyland Park in suburban Bloomington in conjunction with “National Get Outdoors Day” at Hyland Park in suburban Bloomington. No details yet, but if if follows the format of last year’s initial Nordic Walking Expo organized by Nordic Walking North America, an umbrella organization, it will be free to the public and include seminars or panels, an opportunity to try different brands and types of poles and best of all, the chance to take those first steps with some of the top trainers and instructors in the land.

The Santa Monica Expo was such an encouraging groundbreaker that I wrote three posts about it. Click here for scenes from the event. Click here for my take on the collegiality that brought key players in the North American Nordic Walking game to work together toward common goals. Click here for further reflections and a list of participants including contact information. I am looking forward to learning about plans for the Minnesota event.

NWers Seeking NWers

Meanwhile, Marek Zalewski of Nordic Walking US put out the word on his own website and also on Britain’s Nordic Walking eCommunity that he wants to facilitate an informal group in the Washington area and vicinity. He was looking ahead toward spring, because these last few weeks, his part of the country has been slammed by back-to-back blizzards. He wrote: “I was wondering if anyone in Northern Virginia, Maryland and in the Washington, DC area in general would be interested in starting some group walks. I would be willing to lead them, even provide a few initial pairs of loaner poles, some basic training for beginners, etc, at no charge. You would have to provide your own transportation, of course. We could meet in different places in the area, let’s say, once a week, twice, or even once per month. Let me know what you think, before we get too specific.” Links are on his website, or contact him at I hope he gets enough takers to make this worthwhile, and I hope he lets us know when things begin to gel.

NWNA Initiatives

Additional ideas for possible Nordic Walking Expos include one in Ottawa on May 29 concurrent with the Ottawa Marathon, a weekend that includes 10K, 5K and family 2K distances, as well as a Health and Fitness Expo. Another possibility is something in October in conjunction with World Walking Day, an international event supported by TAFISA (don’t ask me what the initials stand for). TAFISA’s goal is “to bring joy, health, social interaction, integration and development to communities and citizens around the globe through the promotion of physical activity.” Nordic Walking certainly fits there, and a look at the WWD page on the TAFISA site shows the breadth of its ambitious goals. And stay tuned for

Free Trial Subscription to New Nordic Walking Magazine

David Downer, who wears more Nordic Walking hats than I can list (I’m sure I’d forget something), established a Nordic Walking eCommunity in January 2006 and with editor Malcolm Jarvis has been putting out a weekly newsletter/blog. The next step is the new Nordic Walking Magazine, set to launch soon. Until February 21, you can sign up for a free trial subscription at least for the the first two issues. Billed as the “the world’s first English Language Nordic Walking Magazine periodical,” it will presumably cover gear, events, technique and other news. To register for the trial subscription, click here and from the home page,   the click on the “Register” tab (left beneath the header banner at the top of the page). You must register there even if you have previously registered at our pre-launch information site. After the free trial period, paid subscriptions will be kicking in at US$4.95 per month, $10.95 for three months or $29.70 a year  ($2.48 per month). A new Nordic Walking forum will also be launched.

Stay tuned for progress on all.