Category Archives: United Kingdom

9-Day Walking Festival in England

The Brits really get the benefits and pleasures of walking (“tramping” as they call it in the country), and walking with poles is part of the picture. Here’s what the Staffordshire newsletter writes about its upcoming walking festival. Staffordshire is in the West Midlands, the largest nearby city being Birmingham. The photo below is also from the borough’s newsletter story.

Stafford Borough Walking Festival returns for its sixth year on Saturday, May 2, and runs until Sunday, May 10.

More than 30 activities will be running at locations including the Trentham Estate, Izaak Walton Cottage, Shugborough Hall and Doxey Marshes. There will also be fun family events linked to walks, such as a treasure hunt in Stafford town centre, a fairy hunt in Victoria Park and picnics at the Trentham Monkey Forest.

Anyone interested in taking up a new way of walking is invited to try out Nordic walking, a whole body exercise using specially designed poles. Instructor Gareth Davies will be running taster sessions at Rowley Park each day and borough residents who want to do more Nordic Walking, and normally exercise for less than 150 minutes a week, can sign up to a 10 week course for just £20.



World Nordic Walking Day Coming Up, 10/10/10

Catchy date for sure, but will it help Nordic Walking catch on?

10/10/10. What a numerically balanced date! I was in Jericho (the original in the Palestinian Territories, not on Long Island or elsewhere) earlier this year, and tourism officials said that they had decided that date would be ideal for promoting that ancient city’s 10,000th anniversary. I haven’t heard or read much about it since, but that date is also the lightly promoted World Nordic Walking Day, which was originally conceived of by someone to offer free introductory classes and other NW events. The date might have been selected to coincide with the International Nordic Walking Association’s 10th anniversary,or perhaps coinciding was a  coincidence. Hard to tell, but in any case, I haven’t heard much about that either.

This might be akin to the the philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest but no one hears it, does it make a sound?” I’m no philosopher, but I’m wondering, if a “world day” or something or another is announced but hardly anyone knows about it, is it a world day? I’ve been reading yet another string of comments on the Nordic Walking eCommunity forum about the designation of this day, who might be organizing something, if so what they are organizing and who is/isn’t invited to participate.

Meanwhile, below is my sketchy information on who will be offering something on that  day, including basic contact inormation — with California events dominant:

San Diego. Jeff DeMeester’s weekly Nordic Walk coincides w/ WNWD. Call 619-507-9835.

Southern California. Nordic Walk Now founder/president Suzanne Nottingham announced, “Nordic Walk Now will offer a free session, Intro To Nordic Walking, to kick off the beginning of a winter sport training education series that includes a variety of other workshops to help skiers train for their sports.” No specific time or location given, so contact her by E-mail to or phone 760-912-4471.

Sacramento. Nordic Walk Fitness hosts a group called Sacramento Area Pole Walkers, which plans a  free 5K walk around the UC Davis Arboretum. This is a free walk.

Australia. Not one day, but rather a Nordic Walking Week, promoted by Nordic Academy and Kinect Australia, wrapped into the monthlong ‘Walktober’ initiative with more than 500 walking events throughout the country. Click here for more Walktober info.

Great Britain. British Nordic Walking lists events here.

And that, my friends, is all I know about. Some “world” day.

No More Nordic Walking Magazine

Dedciated publication “suspeded indefinitely”

If Nordic Walking has been slower to take hold that enthusiasts might have hoped, Nordic Walking media are even sketchier. I had hoped for stronger sales for my Nordic Walking book than there have been, and response to dedicated Nordic Walking media in the U.K. have also been disappointing. While the Nordic Walking eCommunity established by David Downer continues to be more or less active, the Nordic Walking Magazine that he launched and that has been edited by eCommunity co-moderator Malcolm Jarvis is ending after a short run.

Here is the message Jarvis sent out (and I’m sure many of you have already read it:

“Hi everyone, it’s Malcolm, co-moderator

“Yesterday David [Downer] and I had a long conversation about the future viability of the periodical ‘Nordic Walking Magazine.’ Some early soundings that I have made suggest that interest in the magazine will be low, notwithstanding its nominal cost. This is also consistent with the actual take up of the subscription site Nordic Walking Furthermore, apart from a few very notable and welcome exceptions we have had no feedback whatsoever on previous issues.

With this in mind I am unwilling to spend further extensive amounts of time in developing the publication. As David is not personally in a position to be able to do so singly, we have decided that the most appropriate action is to shelve the project indefinitely. I already have a number of articles ready for publication and I plan to include these on David’s weblog Nordic Walking News.’

‘I plan to remain as a moderator of this forum (so you are not free of me yet!) and I hope to post the occasional article on Nordic Walking News, in addition to those referred to.

“I find this a bit of a sad outcome but on a personal level the perceived nominal interest in MWMag is outweighed by a need to devote more time to other long cherished interests. Retirement does not last forever.

“Walk well,
Malcolm, co-moderator”

Bottom line, as I see it, is that if you are interested in Nordic Walking, be willing to make a modest investment (if required) to read what’s out there and provide some feedback..

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,

Nomen Est Omen, Even in Nordic Walking

Latin proverb suits US Nordic Walking instructor and the Internet makes finding her straighforward

The Latin proverb describes people whose names and professions match. Remember Catch 22, in which Joseph Heller invented an Army officer named Major Major who reached the rank of Major and therefore was Major Major Major? When I lived in New Jersey, there was a dentist in my town named Mark Doktor and therefore was Dr. Doktor. Another real-life nomen est omen individual is Nicole Brule-Walker, a Nordic Walking instructor in a Thirsk, a North Yorkshire community. Thirsk is also the location of the upcoming Fresh Air Festival on July 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Brule-Walker will be conducting Nordic Walking demonstations there.

The Internet is quite amazing, isn’t it? I found out where Thirsk is, and I found out that Nicole Brule-Walker is a also rehabilitation therapist and Pilates instructor — and even that she and her husband operate a kennel on their farm. Knowing that she teaches Nordic Walking, I also found her via the Nordic Walking UK website, whose search function enables people to locate specific British instructors by name or find classes (called “tuition” in the UK) by geographic region. Click here for her page on the association’s website. 

UK Nordic Walking Publication Makes a U-Turn

Return of Nordic Walking eCommunity and new focus on an eMagazine

Several months ago, I (and other Nordic Walking enthusiasts) received a series of E-mails from David Downer, a UK Nordic Walking instructor, book author, founder of a Nordic Walking eCommunity and wearer of who-knows how many other hats. He wrote that he was switching his eCommunity from to something else that sounded interesting but that I didn’t quite get. He launched a weekly Nordic Walking eNewsletter and set up a Nordic Walking magazine too. The first edition came out in January,  initially free to what he called “founding members” and then anticipated as paid-subscriptions cyber-publication. Whew!

It was all quite complicated, because every communication seemed to require a different sign-up protocol, and sign-in and passwords were required to access some info. With personal good intentions of my own, I think I signed up for everything, but maybe I didn’t  — or maybe I tried to sign up for the same components more than once in response to several solicitations. In any case, I found myself increasingly out of the international Nordic Walking loop — not David’s doing but my own time constraints. I had intended to write a blog post about it, but some intuition must have caused me suspect that these intertwined concepts wouldn’t have legs, so I didn’t post anything.

Now, David is returning to a simpler communications model, and I for one am grateful — and I am posting what I consider to be the good news. The eCommunity is back and the magazine is slated to come out four (or is it six?) times a year. If you want an explanation of the changes, click here. David and his editor, Malcolm Jarvis, between them managed to put out 25 issues of the weekly — no mean feat. I know this, because I  have struggled to find newsworthy content for this comparatively modest blog with the luxury of no self-imposed weekly deadline. I can write about what I want, when I want about topics that I expect will be interesting.

I am on  board with this back-to-the-future decision and look foward to reading what they write.

"Volcanic Ash Affects Nordic Walking"

That was the headline to a post on a UK blog called Simply Nordic Walking. How?, I wondered. Thick air that unpleasant to breathe and irritating to the eyes, perhaps? An anticipated shipment of poles that were grounded in the place of manufacture? Neither of those.The blogger, Peter Young who teaches Nordic Walking in southwest London but whose photo (left) was taken in beautiful Scotland, went on to report that during the week of interrupted, delayed and canceled travel, “Even one of our regular walkers found that her planned weekend break in Krakow fell victim to the ash cloud. It may have been a blessing in disguise, given the State Funeral for the President. The other bonus was that it meant she could come walking in beautiful Bushy Park!”

Anyone living in London or traveling to who wants to join Young’s Nordic Walkers can call him at 07703-404-931. He provides poles. He gives lessons in the Southwest London area starting at £10, with taster sessions (i.e., demo) sessions for £5. He reminds us that the fresh air and scenery are free — and when I look at his posts, each accompanied by a photo, currently of London in spring — I think that’s one of the aspects of Nordic Walking that I treasure most as well.

Nordic Walking for Wellness and Prevention

Exercise helps ward off chronic conditions. It’s not rocket science

A recent CNN health report took a closer look at health care reform and noted that $7 billion is going into preventive care. By that, the US system means no co-pays and full coverage for physical exams for early detection and, presumably, medical providers’ counsel to exercise more and eat better. European health plans go farther.

As Mervyn S. Foster, a Nordic Walking instructor from Cambridge, England (not Massachusetts), pointed out in “Nordic Walking for Health and Fitness,” an article in Wising Up!, an online business-to-business magazine, “In Germany national health insurance pays for Nordic walking classes from accredited trainers because of the health benefits. Like other forms of exercise, it’s worth taking a class or two to begin with, because you won’t get the full benefits unless you have the right technique.”

The CNN report also noted that prevention is already part of some some state health plans and many corporate wellness programs, and many US Nordic Walking instructors teach or lead groups for companies. Companies that other gyms, treadmills, yoga and other classes and facilities have been shows to reduce health-insurance premiums and sick day absences, so it makes sense for companies to provide them. It would make sense for the new federal health plan to cover them too, but that is still wishful thinking. Hopefully, when health care coverage is a fact and the current ugly objections have died down, the American model will expand in scope.

Foster, who gave me permission to quote from his article (and I will post other excerpts in the future), teaches two weekly beginners’ sessions and also “improver” classes under the Nordic Walking Cambs banner in the Cambridgeshire area. The small photo is also his, used with permission.

Reebok Brand Nordic Walking Poles

Reebok labeled poles being sold in Great Britain

Nordic Walking poles with the Reebok name are available from online merchants in the UK and perhaps in some retail stores too. I have no idea whether a known pole-maker manufacturers them for Reebok, perhaps in Europe but more like off-shore, or whether Reebok commissioned them. I suppose it’s possible that these poles don’t carry the Reebok label at all but are promoted that way online.

A site called 4YouToday (“shopping and travel”) sells Reebok Hot Nordic Walking poles that are endorsed by Markus Wasmeier, a German ski-racing champion of the 1980s. The tag shown in the image (top right). They are also selling the Classic and Quick Step (below). in the UK sells three Reebok-branded Nordic Walking poles — the Hot (£21.99), the Quick Step (£16.99 to £19.99) and also the Classic (£14.99) and also a Deluxe package (£24.95, bottom right) by or from Outdoor World of poles, extra paws and a pedometer. 

Perhaps some in the UK who follows equipment can fill in the blanks that I’ve left here.

Peak District Walking Festival

Upcoming festival merits BBC attention

In advance of the 2010 Peak District Walking Festival, the BBC produced a television segment about Nordic Walking. I had to smile when the announcer said that Nordic Walking “comes from this” as footage of cross-country ski racers was shown. What made me smile is that segment showed most of the the skiers (and all who were right in front of the camera) bent low in an aero-dynamic tuck and not using their poles at all.

Still, the intention was good as a prelude to the five Peak District Walking Festivals that take place this year between Saturday, April 24 and Sunday May 9 with a total of 170 guided walks. There is so much going on — walking with or without poles, caving, climbing and more — that the organizers have put out a 64-page guide that you can look at online. The Peak District National Park’s Losehill Hall Education Centre will be offering Nordic Walking “taster” sessions (i.e., demos). The festival website also includes online walking and cycling routes.