The studio has an interesting collection of all ages and genders, with the oldest into their 80’s. All are positive thinking individuals who come ready to learn, progress, and in many cases heal. They bring their challenges with optimism and continue to challenge my years of expertise.
Pilates is my favourite form of exercise because it tones and strengthens the entire body. I also advocate mixing up one’s fitness routine. In fact, I tell all my students that I don’t want to see them 5 days a week.
I recently was introduced to Nordic Walking Poles. I have seen more and more people walking in the White Rock / South Surrey area with these poles and I have to admit, I thought they looked like another gimmick. I could see that they may have advantages for older people who want to exercise walking upright without being slouched over a walker or leaning on a cane. The poles give a person stability as well as exercising the upper body.
I decided to try the poles and I was sold after 1 minute, especially when I walked up an incline. Walking in White Rock can have its challenges – so many hills. The poles took care of that challenge and made walking much easier. I felt empowered. I was also pleased to feel a few stiff muscles in my shoulders and upper arms after that short walk. (For women over 50, flabby upper arms is the complaint I always get during Pilates class.)
I recently encouraged one of my elderly clients who is 77 years and had knee surgery last year, to try walking with the poles. She had lost the strength and confidence to leave her home. When she did walk, she used a cane, which forced her to lean to one side and waddle. Not good for anyone. It was difficult for her to walk to Pilates, which is approx. 2 blocks.
Last week I knew she would be walking to class using the poles for the first time. I went out to the sidewalk to spy on her and saw a person walking my way, but I wasn’t sure it was her. The person was walking upright with their poles, no waddling from side to side, and their gait was smooth. I figured that they probably weren’t my student. So I waited thinking my gal would be rounding the corner any minute. I was surprised and so pleased to see my student approach me walking with ease and confidence. The smile on her face said it all.
You may be surprised to learn some of the benefits of using Nordic Walking Poles. They are:
– increases the heartrate 10 to 15% over walking, oxygen and caloric consumption increased up to 40% – all this and you don’t feel like you are working harder.
– uses 90% of all your muscles, including the rotation of the spine, which in turn, strengthens the spinal discs. Bonus: posture is improved with proper technique and arm motion.
– there is lower impact on your feet, knees and legs because the proper use of the poles and upper body takes 30% of the weight and strain placed on your lower extemities when you are walking.
Over 8 million Europeans can’t be wrong. All ages enjoy walking with their Nordic Walking Poles, from very fit athletes to the elderly. I suggest trying them. You can find good adjustable poles for $50. They don’t need to cost $200 or more. Trying something new makes exercising fun. Getting outside and breathing our clean ocean air is another bonus.
Julie Akin is the head instructor at Synergy Staying Fit in Surrey BC