Category Archives: Technique

Nordic Walking Technique on YouTube

Kanteneva video is Nordic Walking short course

Beginners needing tips on how to start Nordic Walking and experienced Nordic Walkers wanting a quick refresher ought to check out a YouTube video feature Marko Kanteneva, a Nordic Walking pioneer who continues to promote Original Nordic Walking to differentiate it (however so slightly) from other brands. The vidoe shows him Nordic Walking at regular speed and in slow motion, includes illustrations of muscles engaged during Nordic Walking and shows uphill and downhill technique as well as walking on the flat.


Nordic Walking in the ‘Wall Street Journal’

Health benefits of walking with poles discussed in fianancial daily

Getting a Leg (and Pole) Up on Burning Calories” is a piece by Laura Johannes in the Wall Strteet Journal’s “Aches & Claims” column,, which might be online only or also in the print edition.  She thumbnailed a definition of Nordic Walking for those unfamiliar with it, writing:

“Nordic walkers stride along, planting a pole on the ground as the opposite foot comes down and then swinging the pole behind them. While similar to hiking poles used for balance and stability on difficult trails, walking poles are mainly for use on easy trails or neighborhood streets, say the companies that sell the poles.”

Johannes shifted back and forth between Nordic Walking and hiking with poles. She interviewed Exerstrider’s Tom Rutlin, who also alerted people in the NW community about the piece. (Thanks, Tom.) She cited 80-year-old Dr. Kenneth Cooper of the Cooper Institute whose 22-person study, authored by Timothy S. Church, nearly a decade ago is the foundation of Nordic Walking’s claim calorie-burning bonus. She also touched on the debates as to the whether walking with poles on flat ground helps protect the knees.

It is hardly the big feature that advocates and enthusiasts of fitness walking with poles might have wished for from the WSJ, but even modest coverage in such a prestigious publication can only help the Nordic Walking cause.

Nordic Walking “Coach Kit” Tunes Up Technique

Malin Svensson’s package audio workouts, book, poles, pedometer & more

Malin Svensson, a certified international Nordic Walking coach, has assembled several key products into a kit called “My Nordic Walking Coach” to keep Nordic Walkers on track and their technique tuned up. She wears several hats in the Nordic Walking community, the first of which was her LA-based Nordic Walking USA. Malin’s business is no relation to this blog, except similar names and a passion for fitness walking with poles.

She teaches the International Nordic Walking Association technique — born in Europe and imported to the US — that calls for powering through each strike with a straight arm, a definite push with the pole and a slight forward lean. Deviations from the technique can diminish the maximum benefit from the workout, and Svensson’s kit is designed to help combat problems the way a coach would.

The basic standard kit ($147, above)  includes her book called Nordic Walking,  five CDs containing eight workouts, a pedometer, a four-week calendar and a magnet so you have no excuse not to put it on the fridge. Click here to order. The deluxe kit ($295, or $327 with three payments of $109) also includes  pair fixed-length LEKI Platinum poles. Click here to order.

Forest Versus Trees

Considering what really matters in fitness walking with poles

I have been following the impassioned and yet dispiriting discussion on the UK-based Nordic Walking eCommunity about whether Pacer Poles with their unconventional grips can be considered Nordic Walking poles in the broadest sense of the term. Click here if you care to slog through the discussion on the topic, “Is There A Place For Pacerpoling on a – Nordic Walking – Forum?”

I read through long discourses on why Pacer Poles belong or don’t belong, a divisive thread that seems to pit purists versus globalists. I read the tangential discussion about whether the Pacer Pole people play well with others, which is totally irrelevant to an individual who wants to gain fitness by walking with specially designed poles.

Against this background, I was heartened to read a post by a Canadian blogger named Deborah who writes “The Unbearable Lightness of Becoming.” I don’t know her last name, nor do I care. She describes herself as “a 41 year old female living in the beautiful province of New Brunswick.” She has been trying to lose weight and also seems to be a fairly new Nordic Walker who just completed half-marathon. She wrote a post titled “I choose Not to run! But I will Nordic Walk” that continued, “Which is exactly what I did do this past Sunday for a half-marathon. I am proud of myself for seeing this through because I am a great one for starting something and giving up half-way through. It was a tough ten weeks. Today I hurt in places I did not know I even had but it is worth it.”

She didn’t write about which poles she uses or even whether they are one-piece or adjustable, which shoes she wears, which technique she practices and whether it is biomechanically correct. She wrote about setting a goal and accomplishing it, feeling proud and strong. Her enthusiasm for walking with poles is palpable. And that, IMHO, is what everyone in the small community and smaller “industry” should be focusing on.

Exerstrider founder Tom Rutlin, who himself was long considered an outsider and renegade by the orthodox Nordic Walking community, wrote on the eCommunity thread, “Pole walking in just about any form trumps ordinary bipedal walking (for health benefits, enjoyment and motivation). Let’s all  finally all begin to concentrate far more on getting more people to ‘taste’ this wonderful healthy activity which just happens to come in a number of flavors’ — all of which would likely to be equally tasty to those without prejudiced minds, not to mention the kind of fear and confusion arising from the endless technique and equipment debates which have too long obscured to the outside world’ the simple fact that ‘Walking with poles is great!’.” Amen.

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.

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

Nordic Walking Article on

New post on popular online walking site includes a poll about poles

Wendy Baumgardner (right) has been’s Walking guide since 1996. That doesn’t mean that she conducts shoes-on-the-ground walking trips, but rather that she cyber guides visitors through the forest of information on walking in general. In fact, one of the first links (see Labels, scroll down on left) from the beginning of his blog has been to Because it begins with an A, has remained near the top of the list all along. I hope you’ve checked it out, because it is a good resource.

Her latest post shines the spotlight on Nordic Walking. In fact, she is currently conducting an online poll to gauge her readers’ interest in Nordic Walking. So far, the poll has logged 34 responses. Of those, the highest number (12) clicked on “I’m interested,” Next (8) was “No, I’m fine without poles,” followed closely (with 7 clicks) by, “No, looks silly.” Only 7, including me, report that they sometimes, often or always use poles.

A few sentences in her post took me aback: ” It doesn’t work if I’m walking with my walking buddies, the poles get in the way. So I can really only use it for solo walks.” I was surprised because one of the great benefits of Nordic Walking is the social nature of the activity. I use my poles on my daily morning walk with a friend and also with my husband when we go on an occasional evening walk. My friend is of the “No, I’m fine without poles” opinion, and my husband doesn’t bother. My poles have never gotten in neither my friend’s nor my husband’s way — and neither of them has never gotten in the way of my poles.

On those few occasions when I’ve been with a group of Nordic Walkers, we’ve been able to carry on conversations without conflict or pole-on-pole collisions. Her new post includes a link to an earlier post about Nordic Walking technique with images that were mostly shot in a schoolyard. The group pictures show a trio of Nordic Walkers on a track, each in her own lane — perhaps to avoid conflict. In any case, check out Wendy’s post on Nordic Walking and cast your vote too.

Fleet Feet’s Nordic Walking Clinic in Boulder

Local running store supports Nordic Walking & brought in top trainer as the season finale

Boulder’s Fleet Feet Sports is currently the only local retailer supporting Nordic Walking by carrying poles, accessories, my new book and, most important, putting Nordic Walking on its schedule of free group activities . Their free Tuesday evening Nordic Walking group has ended for the season, and the free Saturday morning Nordic Walking classes have just one session to go — next Saturday starting at 9:00 a.m.

Annette Tannander Bank (below), a former Olympian, well-known local fitness trainer at Rallysport and an International Nordic Walking Association national coach, came to the store on Saturday, June 23, to lead a special clinic as of Boulder’s Walk & Bike Month. Here, she explained pole construction and showed the group how to adjust the poles that LEKI supplied for Fleet Feet’s clinics.

I think of Annette’s presence as the grand finale for the season of free classes and group walks. She drew what, for Nordic Walking, was a crowd — about two dozen people who pretty much filled the narrow shop. They represented a cross-section of people attracted to Nordic Walking ranging from an super-slim injured runner to folks with a too much around the middle and all the health problems associated with excess weight.

The group started out in the empty parking lot of a nearby building. Annette led the group through a series of warmup exercises, like foot rolls (below) to loosen the ankle and strengthen foot muscles. She described the warmups as “fun” things that can be done with poles.

Then she went through the step-by-step drill of accustoming people to poles, first asking them to walk naturally, holding the poles and swinging their arms (below), then to drag the poles while still swinging the arms and then gradually to allow the rubber paws to engage lightly. Only when people had the rhythm and the diagonal arm/leg movement down did she introduce further concepts and more dynamic action. So many new Nordic Walkers so well until that step, when then “think too much,” as Annette said and forget about the diagonal action. When folks slid into left leg/left arm, right leg/right arm mode, she teased them about their “bear walk” and set them right again. “Bear walk” is a very descriptive phrase. Below in the white top, Fleet Feet’s Lilly Johnson, who has been conducting the regular Saturday morning sessions, was able to help with the large group Annette was teaching.
Next, we Nordic Walked over to North Boulder park (below) which has a smooth grassy surface and a small incline on the north end where Annette introduced technique modifications for going uphill and downhill.

En route back, it was clear that most of the group pretty much “got it” — even with quite a large group.

As usual, I learned something too. This time, the “something” was that I had set my poles 5 centimeters too short. In the store, I had tried to multi-task — listening to Annette, taking some pictures and fiddling with the poles. When I looked down, my forearm appeared parallel to the floor. Later, in the park, Annette chided me for having adjusted them too short. She lengthened them, and when I looked down then, my forearm appeared to be sloping upward from elbow to wrist — obviously, an optical illusion. From now on, when using adjustable poles, I’ll actually pay attention to the numbers on the pole shaft and look into a mirror, if one is available, to double check. I’ve been Nordic Walking enough so that I should have noticed, but I’ve also been Nordic Walking enough so that I could compensate for those 5 centimeters.

Nordic Walking Defined

English Nordic Walking authority “destratifies” technique

Is Nordic Walking a sport? A recreational activity? A fitness or physical activity? An “open-air leisure sport,” which in the US would be referred to as an outdoor activity? Malcolm Jarvis, of Nordic Walking Leeds and one of several co-moderators of the UK-based Nordic Walking eGroup, has sorted it out online in a piece called “Nordic Walking and Sport” and offered his thoughts about what will help it gain wider recognition and grow. He believes that use of the word “sport” is detrimental to its growth.

Jarvis wrote: “I suggested that the use of the word sport, with its associations of ‘high performance,’ may hamper progress of the widespread adoption of Nordic Walking, especially in the quest to reach the least active.”

He wrote that he had examined “guidance and data obtained from various reports published by the UK government agency, Sport England..,” The findings that “50.6% of adults (20.6 million) do not regularly take part in any moderate intensity sport or active recreation,” which he believes “applies to most industrialised nations.”

Jarvis looks at the International Nordic Walking Association model with its three levels (health, fitness and sport) undertaken as a progression, but he argues in favor of “functional fitness [which] can be defined as a common sense approach to exercise designed to foster and sustain lifelong well-ness and to prolong physical independence.” He proposes dispensing with the three-step progression in favor of functional fitness and suggests that “As a form of accessible and inclusive recreational activity, Nordic Walking can be readily adapted to meet the needs of everyone, regardless of age, ability, social group, ethnicity or fitness level. In upholding as its core characteristic the concept of functional fitness, the enterprise can provide an enduring and sustainable exercise methodology.”

Something for leaders in the small, fragmented Nordic Walking “industry,” as well instructors and training organizers, to ponder.

A Big Piece of History on YouTube

Tom Rutlin shares his first instructional video

I received the following message from Tom Rutlin, the pioneering developer of Exerstrider poles and technique to go with them:

“In 1992 I made my first instructional video to distribute along with each
pair of poles I sold. From 1988 until that time, those new to Exerstriding had only my early printed instruction manual to use as a learning tool. Having
struggled a great deal attempting to learn to Nordic ski with only the aid of a
few illustrated books on the subject back in the 70s, as soon as I could afford
to buy what was at the time a “high tech” video recorder, I enlisted the help of
my brother-in-law (a photographer) and we put together this rather crudely
produced video.

“Recently Marko Kantaneva asked if I had any copies of my original
video, and after digging through some dusty boxes in my warehouse I found a few
remaining VHS tape copies of this original video. I told you David that I
was already thinking about putting my instructional video up on You Tube.
Since I knew that Marko would certainly not have access to a VHS tape
player, I decided to have a friend of mine transfer the VHS tape to DVD and then
load it on You Tube for not only Marko, but others who might finally like to take a
look at my technique. I think it holds up quite well for a 16 year old
video. As you will see, very little has changed in terms of the technique
I have advocated since 1988.

“I thought both of you might want to offer the links to this two part online video (because You Tube has a 10 minute limit) both for its instructional and historical value.

“Part 1 can be seen at:

“Part 2 at:

“I hope that this tape will serve Nordic walkers around the globe as an
introduction to that ‘other’ version of Nordic walking. Please feel free to
distribute these links to anyone else who you think might find them of
interest.” – Signed by Tom Rutlin

Tom asked me to share these links, and so I have. Enjoy them.