Leonie and Iona’s story
Mum and daughter – smiles and sunglasses
How we started Nordic walking
Mum and I were sitting in Page Park after doing about an hour of walking when we were approached by a very polite lady (Catalina from Friends of Page Park) who asked if we would be interested in Nordic Walking here in Page Park. We both looked at each other and thought: What’s Nordic Walking? We knew it involved poles. During the conversation I turned to mum and said, “why don’t we give it a go, we already do our walking, let’s try something new!” and so we did.
Why and how we continued
We both told ourselves we’ll try the taster session (at Page Park) and if we don’t like it, at least we gave it a go! Turns out we did like it. It get’s you ready for the rest of your day. You feel energized, motivated and you’re also getting the benefits of being out in nature (which I love). It’s great for your circulation and breathing also.
We signed up to the free 8 week beginner’s course and are now continuing on the regular, weekly subsidised lessons at Page Park. It’s become a part of our weekly routine now: we get to Nordic walk and talk with each other and other members. Anything that improves our health is always a positive. We also wanted to try something different and step out of our comfort zone. Whether rain or shine, hot or cold, we wanted to break the mould, and become familiar with the unfamiliar.
Three words to describe Nordic walking with Let’s Walk Bristol
Welcoming – Beneficial – Motivating
Our words to others
Try something new that’s great for your physical and mental health. It’s a great way to socialise also!
Leonie (daughter) and Iona (mother) 🙂
My route to Nordic walking followed a routine appointment post hip replacement, during which the consultant Mr Mike Kelly noticed my posture, walking and balance was very poor.
He strongly advised that if I wanted to get back to a normal life, I needed to regain my strength by walking daily using Nordic poles. He gave me details of a company in Clifton who trained people in the use of Nordic pole walking.
I had been in a very low place for the last three years, with very limited mobility and had thought that the hip replacement would solve everything; so was disappointed to find I still had considerable pain and movement restriction .
Therefore I was keen to try his suggestion, so contacted the Clifton group , but found the prices prohibitive – £30 for an introductory session and around £40 for subsequent one to ones.
I then had to attend East Trees surgery for a routine blood test and whilst in the waiting room, I idly watched the screen – and was amazed to see Nordic walking mentioned as a health improvement tool. I rang the number shown and my wonderful journey with Subitha and her team began; the best part for me was that the course was in my area and was free.
I attended the first meeting with my daughter Anna and we all met in the health centre car park. It was when Subitha mentioned us all walking to the local park (a 5 min walk) that I had forebodings and soon realised that I was unable to walk even that distance. Luckily for us there was another Nordic walking instructor with Subitha and she was able to look after us and do some gentle exercises before walking with us back to our initial meeting place.
I felt despondent at this stage as I realised I wasn’t even able to participate in a learning programme because of my mobility limitations.
Subitha then rang me and asked if I would like a few private sessions from her in my local park. I was SO happy that she suggested this, as I’d already mentally prepared myself that my previous life of staying in the house sitting on my sofa was all I could cope with …….. getting more immobile and depressed.
My story from then has been one of pleasure for me as I’m once more feeling in tune with my body, instead of it being my painful enemy.
Subitha met me in the park for an hour a time for 3 weeks, giving me support and tuition with Nordic pole walking, stretching and breathing exercises; allowing me to learn at a pace suitable for me to feel encouraged to do more.
The feeling I had from this was like a massive endorphin surge , allowing me to once more feel good and happy that I could walk a few steps without too much pain or breathlessness.
Subitha let me borrow Nordic poles for those three weeks and the private sessions with her were only £10 for an hour of full on one to one teaching and support. It then meant that I needed to buy poles in order to continue with the walking , so I asked for advice on which ones to get and I was asked to meet Vicky in the park .
Imagine my surprise when Vicky offered me some poles which had been donated to the group by Pat, a lady who had done the pilgrimage walk in Spain with the very poles I was being given!
The kindness I’ve been shown by both Vicky and Subitha has been wonderful – especially as I wouldn’t be someone who would attract others to the group as I’m 73, very overweight and have difficulty walking more than 100 yards without a stick.
Vicky stipulated that the one condition to my having ‘Pats poles’ was that I would go on daily walks around the park. This I have done and have been amazed at how quickly my walking has improved and how enjoyable I’m finding the daily walks.
Initially I felt embarrassed to be walking with the poles but that went when I stopped caring about how I looked to others as opposed to how well I was feeling because of the walking.
I feel SO much better in so many ways- emotionally and physically and this has given me a new lease of life.
I can now envisage a future of feeling healthy , pain free and happy – due to the consultants suggestion and the ensuing support and encouragement from Subitha, Vicky and Pat.
My three words from the above story are:
Economical ,Welcoming, Life changing.
Before deciding to try something new most of us look up what others have to say. This is especially true for Nordic walking which many people don’t know much about. To help give you an idea about Nordic walking we are asking some of our walkers how they started, why they continued and what they would say to anyone who is thinking of starting Nordic walking with us. Here’s what Scott (fourth from left in the above picture) has to say.
Route to Nordic walking:
I saw a booklet in the library for the Bristol Walk Fest which included a Nordic walking taster with Let’s Walk Bristol. It interested me as I enjoy walking and it was in a park near where I live and at a suitable time. I only picked the booklet up the night before, so I didn’t have a chance to sign up. I popped over the park on the Saturday morning and asked Vicky (one of the Let’s Walk Bristol instructors) if I could join which thankfully she let me. My first thought was I was surprised I was the only man there! This still surprises me now as I feel Nordic walking is for everyone. After the taster I felt I had finally found an exercise I could enjoy and cope with after various injuries from a car accident, so I signed up to Let’s Walk Bristol’s ‘Nordic walking wellness’ course. I enjoyed the social interaction as well as the physical aspect and being in a nice environment was a good combination. I noticed too I could walk quicker with less pain and further too.
Why and how I continued:
Soon after the beginners course finished Let’s Walk Bristol started a Wednesday evening group for course graduates. It was a shame a lot of my old group couldn’t make it but people from other groups merged together which was good. I felt determined to make the effort to continue as I have found it very beneficial. I think I managed to achieve every session which feels a good.
Three words to describe Nordic walking with Let’s Walk Bristol:
Fun – Welcoming – Inclusive
My words to others:
Give it a try you’ve got nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain. It can help on lots of different levels too you may just surprise yourself as I have!
As I like walking my GP suggested I try Nordic walking. I vaguely knew what it was but had never tried it. I thought it was for upper and middle class people – I’d never seen any BME people Nordic walking. So I thought I’d give it a go especially as it was starting from my local GP surgery, and I knew there would be local residents and I would not feel out of place.
I signed up to a free six week Nordic walking course at Charlotte Keel health centre and when I arrived I was met by Subitha, one of the Let’s Walk Bristol Nordic walking instructor team. She was brilliant, putting everyone at ease and really giving clear instructions on the walking techniques and pole usage. It did not feel difficult to do and I really enjoyed it.
I learned that Nordic walking is a great way to improve your range of movement, increase your strength, and tone your muscles. After the first lesson I really wanted to carry on but because I work shifts at NHS Subitha very kindly changed my day to another day which I could always attend. I was very grateful for this.
The health benefits of Nordic walking have been an eye opener for me. It makes you think about posture, balance, feet and arm movements, breathing, connecting to nature and more.
Thank you Subitha and her team for both for my mental and physical wellbeing.
Until last year (my 65th ) my only exercise was occasionally walking the 20 minutes to work and once or twice a month dragging myself out for an hour’s walk.
Then something unexpected happened. I joined a Nordic walking taster at the Charlotte Keel Health Centre where I work and to my great surprise enjoyed it. It hadn’t felt difficult – my legs hadn’t hurt and I hadn’t been out of breath – and afterwards I noticed that my sciatic pain had gone and I could bend down more easily. Other team members also noticed immediate benefits including less back and shoulder pain. All this after about 30 minutes of
The benefits only lasted a few days, but I found myself wanting to do more. I started Nordic walking several times a week in all weather conditions (unheard of previously), often getting so carried away that I stayed out longer than I’d intended. My mental health is generally good, but I felt happier after Nordic walking and the sense of wellbeing stayed with me afterwards. A big fitness surprise was when I Nordic walked to work. It was 5 minutes quicker, I found it easier, and I was less out of breath which meant I could finish up more elegantly.
Nordic walking has had a profound effect on my body. People keep telling me that I’m straighter and taller, my sciatic pain has gone, my pelvic floor muscles are stronger, and I can now put my hands behind my back to do my bra strap up. As someone who has had breast cancer, I also feel that I am doing something positive to support my long-term health. Thanks to that Nordic walking taster I have gone from a non-exerciser to Nordic walking three times a week. I have learned a new skill and have gone from being someone who never did well in school PE lessons to training as a Nordic walking instructor and supporting others to get fitter too. I really consider it my biggest achievement (amongst the many many during my lifetime) in my life.
How can I learn?
We offer free Nordic walking courses and low cost Nordic walking classes and beginner workshops.
Find out what we offer