By Gill Stewart at
Its mid February and NWUK are hosting an intensive 5 day Nordic Walking Instructor course near their HQ in Dorset. The setting is the stunning Studland Beach and it looks like the weather is set to warm up too.
We are often asked questions about the content of our training courses and how fit or experienced you need to be to attend so we thought we would shadow the course, chat to participants and give you a feel for what goes on……
It’s DAY ONE and as this is a business Induction day the HQ Team are there to welcome the new recruits who will begin their journey as Instructors by exploring what type of model will work for them as part of the wider NWUK Team. Its a small group of 5 people who have completed the NWUK selection process and already started some one line learning.
Innes Kerr NWUK Business Development Director explains ” Great Instructors come from a variety of backgrounds so we like to harness their qualities and skills whilst providing support in areas they may not be so competent in. For instance we may have somebody who is confident in front of a group but terrible at admin, planning and social media or indeed the reverse. The reason our training is so comprehensive is that we know from experience that people need a range of skills in order to succeed and if we only taught them how to teach technique they are highly likely to not make a go of their new venture. We are also conscious that we want the RIGHT people to represent our brand so we have quite a robust selection process which also respects that their goals may vary from somebody who wants a full time business to a retiree or Mum who wants to be part of the team but with less commitment. Our support process ensures we can support these amazing folk and provide the tools they need to change other peoples lives. The Induction day is where we work with them to so we can jointly create a plan for them going forward”
The day is a mix of workshops and presentations that explore everything from marketing and social media to how it all works at Team NWUK and the tools which are provided as part of the training package. These include a comprehensive client management/booking/payment/system, a marketing tool kit, websites and of course the passports and associated discounts for people they teach in the future. As one of the new recruits on this course commented ” I had totally underestimated what needs to be in place in order to build, plan and promote a NW programme and how to keep clients once you have trained them – now its all beginning to make sense and I am blown away by how the HQ team are here to work with us on this”
DAY TWO is much more what you would expect to see on a course for outdoor exercise Instructors. Denise Page the NWUK Tutor welcomes the group and it’s much more practical training today. Kit on, the group head out and begin to learn NW techniques and more importantly how to break down each element and match it to the goals and ability of each and every potential client.
Today we are covering what NWUK calls ‘Gears 1 and 2 ‘ of the NW technique and the range of movement required to actually get the benefits from NW poles. Of course the group also need to practice how to warm up and cool down the body prior to taking people into an exercise state and also how to make sure that each individual is working at a safe intensity. To help with this, they will have already completed some on line learning prior to their practical training that covers how the body works and how to measure exercise intensity in order to progress people gradually.
Although there is a lot more physical work today, Denise makes sure the energetic elements are mixed with vital indoor theory such as risk assessments, route planning and incident handling. One thing the Team at NWUK are keen to ensure is that it’s not necessary to be super fit to attend their training, the focus is much more on having the right passion and people skills. The Diploma manual is really comprehensive and provides a great revision resource alongside the on line learning dashboard that all code compliant NWUK Diploma graduates have access to.
DAY THREE and it’s an early start as we meet in a car park about 3 miles from the Training room because we are joining Lucie an Instructor from HQ to shadow her on an early morning walk with her group. We are lucky to be heading out to the amazing Houns Tout with cliff top views of the Jurassic Coast and out to Portland.
We learn from watching Lucie do the warm up and manage the mixed abilities in the group plus we get to chat to them about what they enjoy. Denise also builds in some practical questions in order to get us to think about planning/risk assessing this route. It’s also great to meet one of the local Walk Leaders, Angela to experience the role Leaders play and why she loves being part of the Team. A great start to an action packed day that sees us return to Studland for more practice on mobilisation, technique, gears 3 and 4 and teaching practice before we break for lunch and head off to nearby NWUK HQ to meet the support and retail teams and learn all about poles and equipment.
There’s a surprising amount of things to cover and we are lucky that MD Mike is on hand to help us understand the pole composition and how to provide sound advice for our clients once we qualify. It’s great to see the Warehouse and first hand how the FREEDOM passports and associated free NWUK membership scheme provide postage free (via shop n drop) and discounted poles to help people get started. We finish the day with more theory before catching up for Supper in Swanage where some of the HQ team join us for a relaxed evening.
DAY FOUR also starts with a walk with the local group although this time we join Instructor Sally (a former nurse) who runs the wellbeing and gentle walks. We head off through the woods to a stunning spot in the sand dunes where Sally takes us through some breathing exercises and balance drills. We then leave the group to continue their walk and we practice teaching technique to each other and prepare for our assessments. It’s great to join actual walks and see just how adaptable Nordic Walking is and how skilled the Intructors are at helping people achieve their goals. The Wellbeing module forms part of the Advanced Diploma and this session has helped the new Instructors see why it’s worth considering adding those skills in the future. We also get to try out strapless Activator poles which are used extensively in NWUK wellbeing and rehabilitation sessions.
The rest of the day is spent learning about developing a professional timetable, how to handle enquiries, understand client motivation, host Taster sessions and teach a 4 session tuition course that matches their goals. We also explore how to build walks on the management portal, how to price sessions and provide progression for clients before heading out side for our final practice on stretching and cool downs.
DAY FIVE a now pretty tired group are preparing for the inevitable assessment and evaluation but they have had plenty of practice and support each other through the group teaching drills and cool down assessments. The great thing about the diploma training is that assessment is carried out throughout the week so it’s not too onerous on day 5 and there are no longer any written exams because a lot of content is now on line. Denise gives them the good news that they have all passed today, so the mood lightens as you can see!
There is now just a further module on how to identify and correct common technique faults and a chance to try out some muscle strength and conditioning drills. This energetic session sees the fitter amongst the group running, jumping and bounding with poles whilst they all experience how poles can be used for a range of resistance exercises too. The latter is a taste of another Advanced Diploma module but it helps new Instructors to have a go at this stage so they can understand how to build their skills and add to the sessions longer term. An exhausting day finishes with a final checklist from Denise and Innes that runs through all the things they need to get in place in order to get started and the chance to chat to the Business Team about the support they would like to have (social media, IT, Marketing etc). Innes will help them to work out exactly what they need and the HQ Support Team will be in touch next week to start building web profiles, Facebook pages and conduct one to one training on the Management portal. It’s good to know that there are lots of revision videos on all aspects of the course and processes and an ongoing support structure of webinars and one to one calls for the Delivery Partners. “At NWUK you are never alone” says Denise “the HQ Guys, Other Instructors, your Walk leaders and even your walkers themselves become like one big Family and it’s so rewarding” she adds.
As the new recruits head for home we ask a few of them for their feedback and here’s what they said…………………………
“A Brilliant insight into the world and community of Nordic Walking and I am proud to be a part of it!”
“A really positive experience , great delivery style and venue”
“The Tutor Denise was awesome and the way she lead the course was ‘special’ ”
If you think you would like to join the NWUK Instructor Team why not come to one of our Discovery Days – you will meet the HQ Team and have the chance to talk through whats expected of you, the training you will need and the cost of getting started. There will Instructors on hand to share their stories and there is NO obligation or charge for the session as we like to make sure our new recruits have all the facts and are the right people. Call 0333 1234 540 for more info or see www.nwukjoinourteam.co.uk