Like many of my countrymen I love walking. Americans envy our Sunday digestive “promenades” and like many of us frogs do enjoy a good hiking holiday (much more unusual in America!).
I always thought that Nordic walking was just walking with sticks. How wrong was I!
Since training with the Nordic walk (which we quickly renamed “pole walking” – sounds sexier don’t you think?) pro that is Alexa Cornu (in a bright yellow vest in the picture), I can tell you: Nordic walking is as far removed from normal hiking as ice skating is from cycling.
Aim for 30 minutes and gradually work up to a whole hour.
Of course this brisk and intense activity will clock up plenty more steps on the pedometer!
The idea is to take really long strides, right up to the limit of your reach, as fast as possible.
The pace must be high enough so you can’t really chat as you walk.
Maintain a straight back and keep your gaze focused ahead of you head above the shoulders and not stretched forward like a turtle.
In order to make the exercise more efficient and complete, we use special sticks that put the upper body to contribution in order to propel yourself even faster.
Equipment : Good walking shoes with little shock absorption, a belt with a water bottle, really important as you will be getting very thirsty, believe me! And a pair of special sticks. Alexia recommends getting sticks that are right for your size and not the retractable kind.
Where to practice : on flat terrain to start with, once you are get more confident include some incline or a walk on sand like we are doing here for an even more intense workout!
What muscles does it work out ? All of them ! The heart of course as it is an intense but regular paced cardio workout, legs (thighs and calves), buttocks, abs (especially the obliques thanks to the use of the sticks), shoulders and triceps.
And do not forget to stretch after each session of course !
Ps : Alexia, who has just moved to the USA, is convinced Americans will love out Nordic walk and she might just be right, day after day, hike after hike, she is converting dozens of Americans to pole walking! (more information on her website AlexiaCornu)
Valérie Orsoni – Your LeBootCamp well-being and fitness coach