Above all else, we want you to enjoy your Nordic walking. An exercise that’s enjoyable is sustainable. And Nordic walking is one of the best long-term exercises around.
But it’s also very easy to get stuck in a fitness rut. Your body adapts extraordinarily quickly and you constantly need to be throwing new challenges at yourself to progress - or even just to stand still.
The balance between enjoyment and effectiveness can sometimes be tricky. Happily, because of the number and diversity of classes we offer in Bristol and Bath, there’s a host of ways to keep your body guessing and still have fun through Nordic walking. Here’s some suggestions.
1. Set yourself challenges within your current class - If you usually walk towards the back of the group, try aiming to be in the middle, even if it's just for a couple of sections during the walk. If you're comfortably in the middle why not stride out towards the front? Maybe attack those hills in our Blaise, Oldbury, Bath and Ashton Court venues or aim to walk further than everyone else.
2. Try a harder class - If you're 'cruising' in your current class why not try a different one? It could be in your preferred venue but with a different instructor (we all have a different angle which mixes things up nicely) or join a more challenging class altogether. There's a great deal of overlap between our classes and whilst many of our Nordic walkers are fast, very few started off that way. We all delight in seeing the fitness of others improve and we are here for the same reasons, to keep fit, active and enjoy our exercise, so don't be afraid to branch out.
3. Join one of our two-hour classes – 9.30am Wednesdays in Ashton Court and 9.30am Saturdays in Leigh Woods. Sometimes classes get a bit of a reputation for themselves and none more so than our two-hour walks. Whilst Patsy’s Saturday walk is one of the more challenging walks, Miro’s Wednesday two-hour class is for anyone who wants to increase their walking to build up stamina and fitness. If you can currently manage our one-hour walks with hills, Miro’s two-hour class is the next step. It doesn’t go too fast and Miro regularly stops for stretches and exercises so that everyone can re-group and catch their breath. Plus there’s the lovely Ashton Court café at the end in which to re-fuel and put the world to rights.
4. Team up with a fellow walker - Not only is this good fun, it's also an extremely supportive and effective way to maintain and improve your fitness. Whether it's joining a new class together, signing up for one of scenic walks or entering a challenge event, it's always easier with two.
5. Aim to improve a particular cool down stretch or muscle/balance strengthening exercise – My blog a few weeks ago emphasised that fitness isn’t all about heart and lungs. Flexibility, balance, and muscle strength all contribute. Most of us have some area that we need to stretch that bit more - calves, hip flexors, shoulder mobility. So why not set yourself the challenge to improve a particular stretch. Likewise, our Nordic walking workout classes give you extra muscle and balance strengthening exercises. So why not see if you can develop one of those components more.
6. Put your name down for an external challenge – A rhetorical remark in the case of all you Bath Beaters (well done!). Many of our club have completed other challenges - coastal path sections, national trails and organised marathons to name a few. So why not ask around as see what others suggest, including Nordic walking specific ones like our weekends away and the British Nordic Walking Challenge events which offer 5,10 and 21k distances. Details of this year’s events will hopefully be out soon.
The health benefits of keeping yourself fit are pretty awesome. Studies have shown that the fitter you are the lower your blood pressure and stress levels; the stronger your bones and heart; the less likely you are to have diabetes, cancer and other illnesses; and the better your mental health. Not only is Nordic walking fun and effective, our classes offer the diversity to help you maximise the health benefits.
You can find our favourite Nordic walking poles here and if you're looking for our advice on other walking kit here's our recommendations on the best:
walking socks (socks are an important but forgotten factor)