By Gill Stewart at
As people embark on their New Year resolutions in 2012 we are determined to ensure Nordic Walking is something that they consider. Our team here at NWUK HQ work hard to get the media interested and are often out and about setting up interviews and photo shoots. Read on to find out how our Gill got on at a recent recording for a Radio Four.
The day before we were scheduled to record a Nordic Walking piece for radio 4 as part of their feature on ways to get fit in the New Year, the worst storms for decades battered the UK
The broadcaster, Winifred Robinson, left a message on my mobile asking if anybody would actually show up if the weather was still so appalling. I called her back and cheerily confirmed that it takes more than a bit of wind and rain to stop our Instructors delivering courses in parks up and down the country!
I set the alarm for a horrendous early start and hoped my words had not been too optimistic…what if nobody showed up?
Luckily the next day was not only dry and calm but beautifully sunny too, so I drove to Cumnor Hill in Oxford feeling positive that some nordic walkers would show up to support the Instructor, Rhona and the GO Active team who co-ordinate a fantastic physical activity programme across the county.
First to arrive was Rhona, bright bubbly and enthusiastic who informed me that she was expecting about 8 who were completing their fourth lesson and hopefully a few from her other classes who wanted to show their support.
Winifred arrived and wasted no time as she donned the recording kit and started asking Rhona about why she became an Instructor and what was so appealing about Nordic Walking. Rhona was brilliant – she explained that she was originally a walk leader and had gone on to train as a full NWUK Instructor. When Winifred asked if she was a ‘fitness’ professional before taking up Nordic walking, she replied “No, I was a professional coach potato! – I did nothing and it showed!” She went on to explain that no other form of exercise had ever seemed quite right and that she was two stone lighter and a totally different person since discovering how much fun it could be.
As they chatted, cars started to arrive and a mix of Ladies and Gents began to gather expectantly in the car park. The eldest was 84 whilst others were in their 50s and they all shared their Nordic walking experiences with Winifred. As somebody who promotes it on a daily basis, it’s so refreshing when I can stand back and hear from people, in their own words, why Nordic Walking is such a brilliant inclusive activity.
There were NO negative comments and they shared tales of bad backs, knees and other ailments that had improved massively since taking up this activity. They were a lively bunch and many were excitedly purchasing their own poles from Rhona so they could attend walks with leaders in the future. One couple explained how it was something they could enjoy together and others described how the social side of things was what made her come along each week. The atmosphere was jovial and relaxed and when Rhona tried to do a warm up with the microphone attached – there was much hilarity (especially when she got tangled up as she performed her kayak moves!)
As they went through their paces, recapping on the first 3 ‘gears’ that they had covered in their ‘NWUK Learn to Nordic walk’ course and practising hill techniques, Winifred decided to have a go too.
After a couple of attempts to teach Winifred whilst joined together with small microphones, we decided that it would be easier for her to go through a Taster if Anna held the microphone. Dog walkers looked on in amazement as the three of us advanced across the playing field, Anna walking backwards whilst holding the microphone as I took Winifred through the drills. Not the easiest Taster session I have ever taught, especially as the cold weather made us all want to sniff which would not have sounded pleasant on radio 4!
As I took her through the basics, Winifred conceded that Nordic walking was not as easy as the others were making it look and agreed that a few lessons would be required in order to master the technique. She asked me to demonstrate how somebody who has learned to Nordic walk can use it for a really effective workout so I set off at top pace and even ran back to her with poles! Luckily she did not ask another question on air or I might have failed to answer due to lack of breath.
Rhona’s group were now beginning to wind down so we took a few group shots of them and they performed their cool down stretches in the winter sunshine. We checked that the recordings sounded OK and then said our goodbyes in the car park. As I headed back to NWUK HQ in Milton Keynes I was really proud of Rhona and the team from GO Active and I reflected on how our Instructors right across the UK were out doing the very same thing on this chilly morning. Watching those participants smile and laugh as they used all of their muscles and enjoyed the scenery, made all the hours we put into promoting Nordic Walking worthwhile…it was brilliant!
Listen out for the feature on the ‘You and Yours’ programme – Radio 4 early Jan – we will let you know on the blog if we get a definite date!