I tried Nordic walking for the first time last night, at Meadowbrook Park.
If you’ve seen walkers around town using poles, those are Nordic walkers.
My instructor was Lynn Wachtel of Champaign Surplus. She told me Nordic walking originated in Europe, where walking is extremely popular and people were looking for a way to maintain their fitness for cross-country skiing during warm weather.
It hasn’t become as popular in the United States, but there is a group of Nordic walkers who meet at Meadowbrook Park on Tuesday nights. I joined Lynn and Gary Cziko, a University of Illinois emeritus professor of educational psychology who invited me to try it out.
Nordic walkers push off with the poles as they walk. The idea of using the poles is to engage your arm, shoulder, back and core muscles and get an overall workout.
It took just a few minutes to get into the rhythm. Once I did, it seemed I walked faster than I otherwise would, with more energy and better posture.
Lynn also showed me how the poles can be used for a workout by having a second person hold the poles and provide resistance while you do bicep curls or chest presses. And there’s the entertainment of two people trying to toss and catch four poles at a time.
Look for a column and blog on Nordic walking in the next month.