Pippa Owen

A friend had recommended Nordic Walking to me two years ago - but I claimed I was far too young, it wasn't energetic enough, it was too slow and so on. Two years on, I had grown tired of the high intensity of my gym classes, couldn't run thanks to an ongoing back injury and needed something to give me back my ‘Schwing'. I also wanted to be more of an "outdoor girl", not least to get my daughters out there rain and shine, but for me to enjoy all weathers. 

Then I met Ros outside Waitrose trading her Nordic Walking wares - and I knew then it was meant to be. I picked up a leaflet, headed home and signed up for a beginners' class. My friends thought it was worth a giggle or two but I like to do things that aren't the norm - so it was all part of the appeal. I had no real kit (trainers with plastic bags over my socks for waterproofness) but gave it my best shot and all my preconceptions were ill-founded. And it turns out you don't need that much kit anyway! 

I loved it from the moment I started to learn the technique. The first group was great fun, very laid back and upbeat, I knew it was for me. I signed up to become a member and now hate it if I have to miss a session. The coaches are great - you can tell they love what they do - with tips every week so you can always improve your technique and stamina. I walk with the group, I walk with the group and my dog (great use of time), and I walk solo with my dog too (yep, that one took a bit of getting used to, poles and all!). 

It is a terrific work out with great results. I can chat and walk (the company is always good), do a higher intensity walk for a max-out workout or a mixture of both. My fitness has increased, I have gone back to a bit of running as the Nordic Walking technique has had such a positive affect on my core support and from that, my back injury is far less problematic. I am more toned, happier as my exercise is now outdoors not indoors and I really do love walking in the rain. And to top it all, I have a clearer mind, my mood is much more upbeat, I love my new relationship with nature.

And then there are my friends who giggled to begin with but have been great at recognising the difference it has made. I have my own poles now, I love my poles! There is a new phrase in the house - "going Nordic" - as in "Mum's going Nordic" - I love that! My "going AWOL" equivalent for that all important hour or two.