(Lock)down but not out!

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At the start of the Coronavirus Lockdown we shared a few innovative ideas that our Instructors were doing in order to motivate their clients see HERE

As we now enter our fifth week of isolation, we have been staggered at the efforts many of our groups have gone to and the sheer genius of some of their ideas.  Many have gone ‘virtual’ with the usual on line coffee mornings, workouts and one to one coaching whilst others have set innovative virtual challenges. The HQ Team and a band of experienced Instructors sprang into action and dashed into their gardens to produce videos for other Instructors to share with their groups and all in all its been a fantastic team effort. See HERE to join in the fun free workouts!

Jane Cumming an instructor and physio from North Devon told us “We have a well attended weekly set of home walx; Monday, Thursday Saturday, 3 different Strength and condition sessions and Tuesday we focus on coordination, balance and postural conditioning. On Fridays we have a wellbeing session (see below) and we also clocked up 350 collective miles last week on our solo walks!

Emma White an Instructor from South Warwickshire received this lovely e mail which we think sums up how many people are  feeling right now

I love the sessions. You offer a good mix of different sessions each day …I like the fact you give alternative ways to work  – if like me you have a dodgy shoulder . I am certainly much fitter now than I have ever been .. My long term goal is to reach my next birthday!!!!

In Manchester Wednesdays are chill out sessions for Susan Spain and her group from Paths and Parkways NW as they enjoy a TMW Tai Chi session! And breathe……

Meanwhile in Norfolk, Instructor Rebecca Wheatley told us that her walkers are enjoying daily HIIT Circuits together (with improvised weights) and also are collectively clocking up the miles (2,156 in total after 2 weeks) in their Race Across the World Challenge. “Last week the Saturday Soiree was in Seville. This week we’re hiking across the Sahara down through Morocco” she said.

In Dorset the WALX Dorset group were sent out daily to photograph things beginning with a letter of the Alphabet or joining Instructor Lucie for virtual classes including hills and drills where they were sent off to take part in step climbing workout plans (and report back with pics to prove it!) One walker said

“Many thanks Lucie, that is great, I’m looking forward to giving it a go. I really enjoy your workout sessions and really appreciate you doing them, great to have your motivation and encouragement. They work really well,  your presentation is great, you would think you’ve always done it.

The group have also been racing other groups from around the Country on Strava challenges. First they did the SW Coast Path where they raced MK Nordic walking and now they are almost at the end of the Lands End to John O Groats! Here’s a track of how they are doing

Malcolm, a regular contributor commented

“I just wanted to say thank you for coming up with this challenge – and the A-Z photos At any time they would have been good – but at a time like this I have found them very motivating and enjoyable as a way to keep exercising and to push myself – I would not have done a solitary walk every day with out these. I am sure there are lots of other great ideas.  Thank you”

Karen Lem and her team in WALX Ridgeway who operate in Herts and Bucks, have an awesome programme that includes Mental awareness, Virtual first aid for Nordic Walkers, Virtual Pilates and so much more. It makes you want to dive in and be part of that amazing club.

This is what one of their walkers told them

“Thanks Karen, I thoroughly enjoyed the class. Quite challenging at times.Will see what I can join again. Thanks for all your help and enthusiasm. Stay safe and well and fit… I am sure you do. Just as a matter of curiosity… what was that instrument of torture we could see in your room ?… it looked nasty !!!

Hmm we wouldn’t mind knowing the answer to that question either Karen!

Sam Armstrong, June Holden (pictured below and the team at WALX DerwentandDales have had so many positive messages that they are astounded. Instructor June (who’s in her seventies) has become the Zoom Diva. Sam told us that she never imagined her walkers would respond as they have to the on line interaction and June is astounded that 19 people joined her for her TMW Tai Chi session last . Their walkers obviously agree.


Here are just a few of the positive messages they have received.

“I’ve been so impressed with your virtual sessions and the way you have adapted to keeping us fit at home. I think the routine and the social contact, as well as the exercises help to give a focus to the day and relieve the feelings of isolation.  I’ve particularly enjoyed the flex and stretch although I can’t flex or stretch as much in my actual body as I can in the virtual body in my head! I’m sure my flexibility is improving though!”

“I am so enjoying the virtual classes, ok it doesn’t replace walking together out in the open, but it is keeping me fit, giving a structure to my week, enabling me to chat to people in a group. It is replacing my regular keep-fit class, badminton and choir and my fortnightly walk with friends,  so really it is keeping my spirits up no end. On top of that the challenge is keeping me walking most days, I really have to force myself some days, because there is not much fun in going out on your own, but do want to contribute with the rest of the group on our walk round Britain. Looking on the map also brings back memories of our NW walking holidays, which were so enjoyable. I am looking forward to being back to some sort of normal, but in a way hope that the virtual exercise classes would carry on forever, I so enjoy them.”

“It is lovely to see everybody’s smiley faces and catch up at the end of the week, which is a nice excuse for a G&T” 

Its also been great to see groups working together to provide inspiration. A Dawn to Dusk virtual relay challenge saw two groups from Watford NW and East London & Essex NW go head to head to clock up the most miles in a day – the winning team completed 46.7  miles – WOW! Here’s one walker doing a section.

We thought we would finish with quite a long but heartfelt testimonial which we think reflects how many walkers value their Instructors and are keen to support them too

Instructor Kathrin Foster from Warwickshire is a busy Mum who has had to juggle home schooling as well as trying to motivate her clients remotely. She was delighted when Ali B wrote this lovely testimonial

“How I miss seeing everyone from Kathrin’s group as well as from the wider groups in our area! One of the reasons I started Nordic walking, after it was recommended to me by a friend in the Peak District, was to improve my mental well being – little did I then realise how exercise in the open air accompanied by lots of chat and fun would both drive away my SAD ( seasonal affective disorder) and also bring my levels of fitness right back up to where they had been at least a decade or so ago! So I am currently determined to keep that level of fitness up but I also really value the chats and companionship of you other lovely Nordic walkers whilst we are restricted by COVID-19.

No one else really ‘gets’ Nordic walking – do you know what I mean?! We are a special group.

I love the 11.30am Friday coffee mornings which Kathryn has instigated. Some folks go for a Nordic walk before this and some track their route having done a warm up with Kathrin virtually first and a warm down afterwards! I can’t join a walk at that time ( I’m doing some phone work some mornings at home ) but I love hearing about the walks that my fellow Nordic walking friends have taken. I also really recommend looking at the different ideas both Kathrin and some of her fellow instructors are posting via the Arrow and Arden Facebook group from the U.K. Nordic walking site – it’s amazing what you can do with a can of beans in each hand ( yes, really – ha ha) and the instructors  really help motivate you as they chat to you and encourage you as you do the exercises.  What I also benefit from is the warm up and warm down exercises Kathryn instilled into me when I have ever walked with her. These vital stretches on top of the fitness training I did all last year contributed to  me being able to jump out of bed without aches and pains the day after the Purbeck Nordic Walking Marathon in September last year – one of the high points in my life!

One thing I want to add is: let’s continue to support Kathrin – not only have we all, I’m sure, benefitted from Nordic walking as part of our leisure time when we have met for walks in various beautiful areas in Warwickshire and into Worcestershire, but we have paid a fairly small amount per walk for the pleasure of exercise and fun companionship  with one other and also some continued helpful hints from Kathrin as she looks in with her expert eye at our technique when we walk. So – serious point coming up here: if we don’t financially continue to support Kathrin then we may lose her valued coaching and I, for one, would be so sad. So if we haven’t been impacted in any great way by the current situation this is our chance to keep one small local and valuable business going and to support someone who, for many of us, has also become a friend. So let’s rally around her in this challenging time fellow Nordic walkers!  I should add here that Kathrin suggested I might do a testimonial for her site but at no time did she ask me to talk about financially continuing to support her business but I really felt moved to add those comments too

Hope to see a fair few of you virtually soon and in person whenever the restrictions are lifted!

Thanks ALI – we could not have put it better ourselves!

We are looking forward to catching up with everybody soon too.

If you would like to experience the support, camaraderie and brilliant results from joining a group with a motivating Instructor – pop your postcode HERE 


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