Walking The Walk

Emma Brophy Has A Nordic Experience at Sports Dimensions


For further information, contact Michelle, Mike or Steve at Sports Dimensions on 0208 563 0007 or email info@nordicwalkingclub.co.uk

Fresh from trekking through Patagonia's Torres del Paine, I was very keen to try out the latest walking 'technique' called Nordic Walking. And with the added incentive of potentially burning 40% more calories simply by using poles whilst walking I couldn't refuse Sports Dimensions' offer of a tutorial workshop.

Originating from Finland, Nordic Walking was originally a summer training method for cross-country skiers.Now more than eight million people worldwide are seeing the benefits of walking with poles.

To learn how I was taken to Ravenscourt Park by Steve Cresswell a certified Gymstick Nordic Walking Instructor who patiently taught me how to use the poles correctly and very kindly didn't laugh too much at my lack of coordination. (For the trekkers amongst us the technique is very different from using normal walking poles - these are not used to propel you along or steady you, they are used to give you effective upper body workout).

Walking with the Nordic walking poles is the middle ground between walking and running. It provides you with a total body workout as you are working your upper and lower body at the same time meaning your heart rate is increased, but because the effort is being spread across more areas of your body you will actually find you can walk faster but find it less tiring!

I was using Gymstick Nordic Walking Poles provided by Sports Dimensions. Created by Finnish fitness experts at Gymstick International, these are not just ordinary walking poles; they are a complete fitness experience. Exercise bands are hidden inside the poles and can be pulled out to convert the poles into the original Gymstick total body fitness tool.

As if we hadn't attracted enough attention amongst the dog walkers of Ravenscourt Park with our poles, Steve took me through a range of exercises using the exercise bands to help improve my muscular endurance and core strength. These simple exercises - I was informed - were non-impact and worked all the major muscle groups as well as the small supporting muscle groups used for balance and co-ordination.

Sports Dimensions have now launched the West London Nordic Walking Club which I joined on the spot and not just because membership was free! Their free introductory workshops are held through the week and at different times during the day to suit everyone. These workshops, identical to the one I had with Steve, enable you to learn the technique of Nordic Walking with the Gymstick Nordic Walking Poles.

Sports Dimensions' Performance and Rehabilitation Director Mike Antoniades said "What we are trying to do with the creation of the Nordic Walking Club here, is combine good physical activity, with the social side, giving people the opportunity of meeting other people or exercising with their friends as group. There are many of us who don’t like running or can’t run but need something more than simple walking to get fit or lose those extra pounds. So Gymstick Nordic walking combines all of those things you train outdoors in the park, you get a good workout and can socialise as well and the Instructor is there to teach and to encourage."

Once you have completed the workshop you will be able to get out and use your new skills in one of their scheduled Club Walks. Gymstick Nordic Walking Poles are provided at all workshops and regular club walks.

Emma Brophy


April 24, 2007