Helen’s Story

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Helen in blue jacket, near the centre

Nordic walking…and all that it has brought

Last year my daughter forwarded an email from a friend of hers. It said there was to be a free 8 week Nordic Walking course, offered to those over 70 and starting at the end of March. To be honest, I had never heard of Nordic Walking up to this point. But I liked walking and the idea that something was free as well as the locality, as all the lessons were to be held in St Georges Park next door to the Beehive Centre (incidentally next to where I live ).

I signed up, intrigued that a different style of walking could be so beneficial to my wellbeing at 70 plus.

There were 9 of us gathered together that first Tuesday and met by a cheerful instructor Vicky. We were measured up for poles and then followed Vicky down to the park. We stood in a circle and introduced ourselves while taking in the measure of each other, in my case hoping I would get to know some if not all to widen my friendship group.

There then followed an unforgettable 8 week course. From the beginnings of posture, walking, arm swing, drills, warm ups, cool downs, breathing, to the last session where we brought cake to share, I loved every moment.

I got to know each person in my group and used the opportunity of walking each week to get to know them better. I felt taller and more confident. I felt fitter and my balance improved. I remembered to breathe through my nose going up hills and loved the feeling of double poling down them. I enjoyed watching the seasons change from winter to spring and welcomed the beginning of summer. I was obsessed, to put it mildly, and spent much of my time telling all and sundry about the benefits of Nordic walking.

I wanted to take this further and decided to apply for the Instructor’s course, thinking that maybe at 79 I would be too old to be considered. But if that’s one thing that Nordic walking does not do, it’s discriminate about age. In fact it actively encourages over 65s to join groups.

A local Bristol charity (see below) funded my course and I qualified in November. It has been an amazing journey and I feel so grateful to have discovered Nordic walking and had the opportunity to learn something new. Louise (who was also on the 8 week course) and I now run the Beehive Nordic Wakers. We walk in all weathers and only take breaks for holidays.

I have to say the group we have is incredible. We share stories and ideas. We talk about aging and the benefits of exercise. We post social events happening throughout Bristol as well as other fitness plans that some of us pursue.

So I for one would highly recommend this activity. Not only do I feel fitter and stronger, I have met and made some extraordinary friends, thanks to Nordic Walking.


Helen Connerton and Louise Tonks (who is on sabbatical in India till May) run Nordic Walking Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10- 11am from the Beehive Centre, Whitehall. The group is for those who are aged 65 and over and is free thanks to the support of The Grateful Society, a Bristol charity dedicated to improving the wellbeing and independence of older adults.

If you need any more information about the group or would like a one to one lesson please contact Helen on 07962576651 for a chat or email info@thebeehivebristol.co.uk.