September 09 2010
I was on a mission to find the best way to step up my lagging exercise routine when a leaflet for Nordic Walking dropped through my letterbox. It was a sign. So I joined the free taster session and then signed up on the spot for a four-week Nordic Walking UK programme, on London’s Hampstead Heath.
I’ve lived near the Heath for aeons, and love it, but still don’t really know my way around, so this was an ideal two-in-one opportunity for me. Nordic Walking was started in the UK by Martin Christie, who is based at the Matt Roberts gym in Jack Straw’s Castle on the Heath; it’s like cross-country skiing without the skis, but with the poles. It looks easy but demands technique (and some silly-looking but fun exercises) and a Zen-like focus, strengthens upper body and tightens the stomach muscles (as you push on the poles) and burns more calories (apparently) than normal walking.
It’s sociable, you can talk as you walk, and it gets you outdoors for an hour; the heart of the Heath was spectacular. I took to it wholeheartedly, found it just challenging enough, absorbing and restorative, and felt that I built up stamina and trimmed down in a short time.