By Gill Stewart at
Northamptonshire sport (known as N sport) started their Nordic Walking programme in the Summer of 2011 with the initial focus being on ensuring that key staff and keen volunteers were adequately qualified to deliver a programme which would have a lasting impact on participation levels across the County.
As well as the full CYQ Instructor training, N Sport chose the NWUK Community package which provides additional training on how to deliver a programme that incorporates promotion and retention strategies from the outset. They worked with Nordic Walking UK to offer 3 days of bespoke training to the team, who were from a range of backgrounds. Those without current fitness industry qualifications did the on line ‘CYQ Exercise & Fitness knowledge module on line as well as the practical learning in order to gain their level 2 fitness instruction certificates.
Initially 7 Instructors were trained to be deployed in a variety of programmes across Northants and to enhance existing Nordic Walking programmes in South Northants and Daventry DC where a staff member was trained to support an independant NWUK Instructor who had already been successfully delivering Nordic Walking.
The in house Instructor training course included an additional day where whole the team were trained to deliver the bespoke NWUK ‘Learn to Nordic Walk’ course which is a 4 session programme that includes simple behaviour change principles and empowers participants to understand the right intensity of training and technique required to achieve their goals.
Participants are then issued with FREEDOM cards which enable them to join walks with participating groups across the UK and access other benefits see here
The FREEDOM card system enables participants to be led by trained nordic walk leaders who can be comfortable in the knowledge that those they lead have been taught correctly and fully assessed by competent Instructors. In short, no card no walk – especially now the card includes the Safety 24 scheme which means there is no need to ensure each leader has access to personal information such as medical history & next kin for those joining them on every walk!
Keen to ensure the sustainability of the programme Jackie Browne (Physical Activity Manager) from N Sport wanted to also make sure they could train their own nordic walk leaders and one of the benefits of the community package is that Cascade leader training is provided as well as further training on how to establish regular sessions for all levels including specific Wellbeing, Weight loss and Workplace solutions.
A further benefit of the package is that N sport were also able to make use of an on line Marketing too kit packed with materials that could be edited to include their own images and logo plus a full editable page on the NWUK website where they could promote their sessions.
As the project started to grow, N sport trained 11 volunteer walk leaders and have another 8 just about to start their training in time for more expansion this spring. This currently enables them to deliver in excess of 11 nordic walks a week to a range of markets, from seniors to workplace health, across the County.
In one area alone (Central Northants) 92 participants completed the LTNW programme in the first year with another 17 completing it since january this year. South Northants have issued 115 NWUK cards and now have three community groups who meet regularly to walk with Volunteer leaders. Daventry have seen similar uptake and all three areas are set to expand their schedule due to the popularity and affordability of nordic walking.
” Over 80% of our walkers are 50 plus” say Jackie “One of our instructors works for AgeUK so we get a lot of referrals from them on to our courses and we also have a Leader who is heavily involved in the Northants 50 plus network so we get a lot of participants through them too. However, We are running a ‘Learn to Nordic walk course’ in April at the County Council with the view of setting up a regular walk after work & have offerred tasters for other companies too”
Hers are a few of the testimonials collected by the team at N sport who hope to keep growing the programme and tailor sessions for all age groups in the future.
“ Following the initial AgeUK Get Set Go programme in Bozeat I continued with the exercise & keep fit weekly sessions with Jason who introduced Nordic Walking opportunities. I now do both. This has improved my stamina and strengthened both legs and arms. This distance I can now walk has improved considerably as my ‘normal’ walking friends will testify. I have also met lots of new people and enjoy socialising with them also.
Discovering new walks in different villages has all added to the enjoyment and when able to look forward to joining up with other Nordic Walk leaders covering other areas further afield. I think it is a great programme and I am sure new walkers will agree” Angela D’Arcy
I took it up on the recommendation of friends. I wanted to meet new people, being new to the area. This is great and really energises me. I am now planning weight loss and other ways of getting fit. Furthermore it provides the full body work out which supplements my weekly yoga class. Anna Kingsmill-Vellacott.
“This was a progression from the AgeUK keep fit classes – which I enjoy and it has helped me to undertake a regular ‘keep fit’ activity each week”. GE Sharratt