Category Archives: People

Nordic Walking Classes in Bozeman

The mind and Nordic Walking.

NordicWalkingRecreational Sports and Fitness at Montana State University in Bozeman hosts a series of free workshops on Wednesday, September 17  that focus on Nordic walking and individuals’ mental lifestyle presented by Robert Sweetgall, who has walked across America seven times and is often called “The Real Forrest Gump.” His motivational Creative Walking program focuses on health and wellness issues.

The first workshop, “Nordic Walking 101,” from 11 a.m. to 12 noon in Shroyer Gym is a hands-on session focusing on basic Nordic walking techniques and tips. “Nordic Walking 201” follows from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in Shroyer Gym. Approximately one-third of the session is a seminar, one-third focuses on advanced learning techniques and one-third is a workout. Individuals who attended the Nordic Walking 101 session or who attended a similar Nordic walking session in 2013, are eligible to attend.

“The Brain Workout Workshop” from 1:15 to 2 p.m. addresses a mental lifestyle that improves and maintains brain function. It incorporates mental and physical activities, nutrition and strategies for controlling blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. It is to be “The Brain Workout Workshop” will be repeated fom 6:30-8:30 p.m. in SUB Ballroom B.

While fhe workshops are free, RSVPs are required. To register, call 406-994-5000 or visit 120 Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center. FoMoInfo: Michele Cusack, 406-994-5000 or

‘Nordic Walking Queen’ Retires

Linda Lemke, advocate for Nordic Walking, calls it a career.

Linda Lemke
Linda Lemke

Ever since Nordic Walking slipped into the fringes of US fitness consciousness, Linda Lemke was one of its strongest advocates. I’m not even sure what her official title was at Hoigaard’s, a fantastic sporting goods store based in the Minneapolis, but she called herself the “Nordic Walking Queen.” And so she was — holding classes, leading walks and building up enthusiasm. In fact, I have often referred the Twin Cities as a hotbed or Nordic Walking — and so it as been, thanks to Linda Lemke.

A very few days ago, she posted on her Facebook page, “Woke up this morning and I’m not thinking about work.  First day of being retired, yahoo!”  I hope someone steps up to put on her crown, but frankly, I’m not optimistic. Top Nordic Walking pole manufacturers from Europe have largely given up on the American market, and every effort at presenting a unified marketing and public image presence for fitness walking with poles has failed. Nordic Walking in this country remains Balkanized — just a time when fitness-conscious boomers are, like Linda herself, retiring and open to new, less aggressive ways of retaining their fitness levels.

Thanks for a job well done, Linda.


New 3-Piece ‘Anniversary Pole’ from Exerstrider

TR3 added to top strapless pole line

A quarter of a century ago, a cerebral runner named Tom Rutlin  began marketing the strapless Exerstrider fitness walking pole and with it, a more upright walking style that contrasted to the aggressive forward lean of the original European Nordic Walking technique. With further developments, Exerstriders found a special niche among seniors and people with balance issues or other physical challenges.


The TR3 — not s snappy vintage Triumph sports car but the latest model — the Exerstrider 25th Anniversary Edition TR3 is a travel/adventure 3-piece total body walking pole designed to deliver the same world class performance, value and quality as the popular OS2 model, but with the added convenience of telescoping down to just 25 inches for ultimate convenience when traveling or stowing in a pack or suitcase. It is suitable for use by walkers from 4 feet 6 inches to 6 feet 2 inches tall. Precise adjustment is accomplished via EZ-fit size markings on the lower shaft and a cam locking system. Adjustable poles are  suitable for anyone who travels by air and doesn’t want to leave home without them, for growing children and for people who want poles to share with family members or friends of different heights. The TR3 features celebratory graphics of black, gold and silver.

Other features of the T53:

  • Exerstrider’s exclusive ERGO /SC ergonomic strapless grips designed for unrestricted comfort and safety.
  • Equipped with both hardened carbide tips and CushionGrip tips.
  • A pair of “trekking” baskets installed, as well as a pair of large interchangeable snow baskets for snowshoeing or winter walking.
  • Included is Tom Rutlin’s 5-star rated Exerstride Method Nordic Walking instructional video (DVD) and printed instruction manual and user guide ($19.95 value if purchased separately).
  • Grip socks for added comfort.

The TR3 25th anniversary edition runs $114.95 per pair, including the accessory package. Shipping is free. Order online.

Nordic Walking: Fit for a Queen

A Facebook friend from Spain posted the clipping below of Queen Beatrix of Holland, age 75, with Nordic Walking poles. The newspaper refers to her as “princess,” but she has been Queen Regnant since her mother, Queen Juliana, abdicated in 1980. She in turn is abdicating soon in favor of her son. I don’t know much more about the royal walk with poles, but I am happy that Nordic Walking has such a high-toned practitioner in Europe. I can’t even credit the publication, because I don’t know what it is.


Today is Lindy Smith’s Birthday

Wish a happy to the “First Lady of Nordic Walking” in the US

My first peripheral introduction to Nordic Walking came in Switzerland in 2004, and my first introduction in the US was when Lindy Speiser, then with LEKI USA, was marketing this new-to-America, easy-to-learn, easy-on-the-budget outdoor fitness activity using specially designed poles developed in Europe. She was living in Buffalo, and even in the land of long, harsh winters, she practiced what she promoted and was an enthusiastic Nordic Walker.

Lindy eventually left LEKI, moved to Florida, got married (but didn’t have to re-monogram when she changed her last name to Smith) and launched a business called Nordic Walking with Lindy (or Walk With Linday or similar) and has been introducing newbies from teens to seniors to Nordic Walking and to offer classes that are as much about Nordic Walking’s social aspects as about skill building. Instead of working broadly across the US, she is still promoting it microcosmically in and around Fort Myers.

Today is Lindy’s birthday. Send greetings and thanks her way ( for beginning to push Nordic Walking into the US consciousness. It’s got a long way to go before it reaches the popularity it enjoys in Europe, but directly or indirectly, all Nordic Walkers owe a debt of gratitude to Lindy.

Snowshoer Art in France

Simon Beck creates magnificent patterns in the snow

Artist Simon Beck snowshoes on the frozen lakes of Savoie, France, tramping intricate patterns in the snow. This is not a casual endeavor, but an effort to which he commits 5 to 9 hours a day as he creates large, outdoor and yet epehmeral pieces that typically are the size of three soccer fields. I was alerted to Beck’s work by LaDonna Zall of Powell, Wyoming, who led me to My Modern Met  and a blog post called “Man Walks All Day to Create Spectacular Snow Patterns.”

A beautiful mandala-like pattern on a frozen French lake.

The geometric forms range in mathematical patterns and shapes that create stunning, sometimes 3D, designs when viewed from higher levels. Some look like white quilts. Others like mandalas, and still others like kaleidoscopes.

Simon Beck with one his his masterworks. He believes they are most interesting from above.

How long these magnificent geometric forms survive is completely dependent on the weather. Beck designs and redesigns the patterns as new snow falls, sometimes unable to finish a piece due to significant overnight accumulations. Interestingly enough, he said, ‘The main reason for making them was because I can no longer run properly due to problems with my feet, so plodding about on level snow is the least painful way of getting exercise. Gradually, the reason has become photographing them, and I am considering buying a better camera.” Spectacular art for the sake of exercise!

Nordic Walking’s Online ‘Record Book’

Nordic Walking by the numbers

Following my recent post about the remarkable Gabriel Abraham and his recent Nordic Walking records for various distances, he contacted me and alerted me to the World Ranking Nordic Walking site.  I probably was aware this site of at one point but had forgotten all about it. I’m glad that he reminded me.

The site lists records for men and women for “Nordic Walking” (both on the road and on the outdoor track track (5km to marathon). It also lists”Ultra Nordic Walking” records on the road for distance (5km to 500km) and on the track (50 km to 100 miles), as well as for time (6 hours to 6 days). Click on the site, read the stats, look at the pictures and get an idea of what is required at the highest level of Nordic Walking competition. Amazing stuff.

Spaniard Sets Nordic Walking Ultra Records

Gabriel Abraham sets endurance records in walking with poles

I recently learned about Gabriel Abraham, a Spaniard who broke absolute and M-45 Word Records of Ultra Nordic Walking st 30 and 50 miles. His Wikipedia entry alludes to his previous athletic career in “road running, track running and cross-country races.” He was born in 1966, so he’s no longer a kid, which might explain the reason that he, like other runners, picked up poles and started excelling as a Nordic Walking competitor.

There is no indication as to whether he set these records in a race an if so, which?, or whether he was walking by himself with someone was timing him. Department of Unanswered Questions — except maybe for those who read Spanish. If I could, I would know more, at least from the external links on the Wikipedia page, but I don’t. So there you have it: an amazing athlete with a fairly high profile (given his sports) in Spain whom we know virtually nothing about. I invite anyone with more information to leave an enlightening comment. Please.

Hanging Out With Urbanski & Felkley

Two remarkable septugenarians meet & trade stories

Ed Urbanski, Certified Master Nordic Walking Instructor and co-moderator of Nordic Walking eNews, paid a visit to Colorado this week. We have been cyber-friends for some time, so I was delighted to get to meet him in person, and he was eager to meet Dave “Bigfoot” Felkley, whom he described as “my snowshoeing idol.” Easy to make that happen. Ed came to Boulder, and together we drove up the canyon to Nederland. Dave was sure that they had met years ago at some athletic event, but here they are again:

Dave and Ed click glasses at Nederland's Wild Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery.

Both of these remarkable men are on the leeward side of 70. Ed from Greendale, Wisconsin, has a long history as a runner, cross-country skier and triathlete (competing in his first Ironman at the age of 50). He has two artificial knees, thanks to all those pavement-pounding years of running, and prefers snowsports and walking with poles to running. Dave’s number-one sport was mountain running, and in winter, he was a cross-country ski racer. A number of years ago, he switched to snowshoeing — hence the nickname “Bigfoot” — and has been getting local kids and seniors outdoors in winter on snowshoes.

They have a lot in common and had a great deal to talk about. And I was happy to be a bystander to their conversation.

Polin’ with Paley

Jayah Faye Paley came to Boulder — and we went for a walk

The other day, I wrote a post called “Jayah Faye Paley Coming to Boulder” about the well-known and highly regarding pole advocate, personal trainer and mobility coach  presentations in at REI in Boulder on Thuraday and group hike with poles in Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday morning. I couldn’t attend on Thursday because I had a previous commitment but I understand it was SRO in the store, and Saturday morning is out, because the Paley-led “Waterfall Hike with Poles” to Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park for the Rocky Mountain Nature Association is sold out.

Jayah adjusting poles in my front hall.

I was able to spend higher quality time with Jayah. She had been planning to meet Randy from Lafayette and Charee from Parker on Thursday morning for a walk somewhere in Boulder. My house was a good, central place, so we rendezvoused here on a misty, gray morning with clouds hanging low on the foothills. After some tea and chat, the four of us set off for Eben Fine Park with a plan to walk into Boulder Canyon on the Boulder Creek Trail at least to the end of the pavement, but the city is working on the footbridge, so we had to detour and in the end, because Jayah had a schedule, we only walked through the park and a short distance into the canyon.

No hard-core instruction by Jayah, but rather gentle technical hints and stops hear and there to stretch.

The casual walk gave us a chance to chat, and I admire Jayah’s philosophy. She is keyed into different uses for different kinds of poles by people with different needs and desires, from hardcord hikers to people with balance or mobility issues. As we were entering the canyon, an older couple with poles was coming downhill toward us (sorry, I didn’t snap a photo). They both had old downhill ski poles. He was simply carrying his; she was rather randomly tapping the ground with hers. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes, commenting about how unusual it was for six people with poles to be on the same stretch of the path. The couple said they liked walking with their poles — but I could help but think how much more they would have liked them with a little basic coaching on what poles meet their needs and how to use them. We mentioned that Jayah was giving a free presentation about poles at REI just a few hours later. They looked baffled and politely went on their way.

The Boulder Creek Path on a misty, Shangri-La type of morning.