Category Archives: Starting Out

Try It. You’ll Like It.

With apologies to an old Alka Seltzer commercial, this headline popped into my head after a first-timers’ Nordic Walk sponsored by Boulder’s Foot Solutions. Honestly, I’m not on their payroll, but I am enthuasiastic bout their enthusiasm, particularly because they are one of a large chain that can bring a great deal of attention to Nordic Walking.

Five of us were fitted with poles (top right) and followed trainer Christine Neff down 28th Street (bottom right) and onto the Boulder Creek Path. Anyone self-conscious about Nordic Walking by him- or herself will feel less so in a group. Christine helped everyone adjust poles and gave a quick intro to the basic technique, then off we went. We stopped here and there for strengthening and stretching exercises and were back in the store within an hour where two (or was it three?) immediately purchased poles.

I try hard in writing and in conversation to tell people how easy and beneficial Nordic Walking is, but an opportunity to try is more eloquent than any words I can muster. It still amazes me how little introduction is required to captivate newbies and persaude them of the comfort and benefits of Nordic Walking — once they try it.

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.

Free Nordic Walking Intro at OR/WA Running Stores

Fit Right Northwest, with running and walking stores in Portland, OR, and Vancouver, WA, has scheduled a free Nordic Walking introduction for Tuesday, April 24, at the Vancouver location and Wednesday, April 25, at the Portland location. Both sessions will take place from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. It will include a brief overview of Nordic Walking as a sport, pole fitting and the basics of Nordic Walking technique. Co-owner Dave Sobolik is giving these presentations. Pre-registration is required by calling 360-885-4556 (Vanciouver) or 503-525-2122 (Portland) or E-mailing dave@fitrightnw.com.

It is no surprise that this service-oriented retailer is getting into Nordic Walking. They already organize weekly group walks, as well as runs, from both locations. These walks are sponsored by Wonders of Walking, a local organization that promotes walking as a healthful, low-impact exercise, organizes local events for walkers and runs the WOW Walking Club.

New Weekly Nordic Walking Group in Boulder

Christine Neff, a trainer who founded and co-owns both Boulder’s Femme FITale women’s gym and Elevate Conditioning, will be leading a weekly Nordic Walking group beginning next Tuesday, April 10. The group will meet at 9:00 a.m. at Foot Solution (1651 28th Street, Boulder) and go out for about an hour of basic instruction. The initial session is free, including use of poles, but pre-registration is required by calling the store at 303-447-3668.

The price for subsequent group Nordic Walks will be reasonably priced — perhaps around $10, according to Chjristine Neff. At this writing, the program is still in its formative stage, and she said that there is also a possibility of a punch card or a coupon book for subsequent sesssions.

Foot Solution has issued the following schedule, but since the program is just starting, do call to confirm as well as to register for a spot:

April 10, 17 and 24
Foot Solutions of Boulder
1651 28th Street
Boulder, CO 80301
303-447-3668 for information
Walks start at 9:00 a.m.

April 12,19, and 26
Femme FITale
The Boulder Health and Wellness Building
1810 30th Street, Suite F
Boulder, CO 80301
303-447-3668 for information
Walks start at 8:00 a.m.

Metro Denver-Boulder Group Walks

In response to a recent posting, I was asked about local Boulder walking groups. I didn’t know of any but guessed at a few, and before I could embark on my promised further research, I found a piece in the February 2007 issue of Active Cities magazine. Kathy Hawk did the research and found groups for everyone from recreational fitness walkers to competitive walkers, and the magazine ran it as adjunct to Eric Karnes’s “Urban Walker” column. Among other civic, volunteer and political activities, he is a member of the steering committee of Walk Boulder, an advocacy group for enhancing Boulder’s walkability and pedestrian-friendliness. Here, used with permission, is the publication’s chart:

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.

First Steps with Nordic Walking Poles


I first heard about Nordic Walking in 2004 in Mürren, Switzerland, where Nordic Walking was coaching was available. I’d been hiking with trekking poles for a while, but I wasn’t sure why Nordic Walking was different. With my trekking poles and a small pack, I went on a two-night hike deep into the mountains and stayed in rustic mountain huts. When I returned to the comfortable hotel in Mürren, I listened to a group of newly minted Nordic Walking enthusiasts. They had been Nordic Walking near Mürren while I and others hiked. They praised the great workout, and that sounding enticing. However, that visit was coming to an end, was too late for me to try. I was leaving the mountains early the next morning to catch a train.

Nordic Walking stuck in my mind, however, and just this past summer, I was able to sample it at Colorado’s Devil’s Thumb Ranch. The photo above shows Lang Hedman, Devil’s Thumb’s hiking guide and Nordic Walking instructor, and Holly Johnson of Sarasota, FL, powering across a meadow with Nordic Walking poles, moving quickly along an old ranch road. I was captivated enough to write a feature story about Nordic Walking for my local newspaper.

I was also sufficiently to captivated loom into Nordic Walking online and to think about drafting a book proposal based on my initial research. I see Nordic Walking as an activity that’s perfect for the 21st century. It appeals to baby boomers, whose knees are shot from too much running but still are geared to a high level of aerobic fitness. Many of their contemporaries and even younger people are often overweight and out of shape, but they’ve gotten the word that they need a change in lifestyle. Older people trying to stave off infirmity understand the use-it-or-lose-it principle. Nordic Walking is a low-impact, do-anywhere activity that is fun to do and has numerous health benefits — as I noted, perfect for all of those populations in our time.

Fast forward to November 2006, and with the ink still wet on my contract to write a Nordic Walking book, I attended a Nordic Walking workshop at Fleet Feet, a local running store. Seventy or 80 fitness walkers and runners jammed into the small store, eager to hear about Nordic Walking from Annette Tennander Bank, former Olympian and personal trainer, and Mark Muggleton, five-time NCAA All-American in Track and Field and a member of the U.S. International Cross Country Team. Annette and Mark demonstrated the rudiments of Nordic Walking technique — very simple, really — and took people out into the parking lot and a nearby hill. Everyone got it! Fleet Feet had not yet received its order of Nordic Walking poles, but after people tried the poles that Annette and Mark brought with them (and got tips on how to use them), many put in special orders on the spot.

I’ll add posts to this blog as the research for my book progresses, and I’d like to hear from you as well.