A little background...
After a few years working in an Arts centre in Cardiff, with the help of GAVO (Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations) I decided to take a new direction. As I had a long term health condition I decided that a sport related activity would ease some of the problems, so I decided to join a lottery funded programme called Mentro Allan based in Bargoed.
Mentro Allan's remit is to encourage local people to get involved in activities such as cycling and nordic walking and as a fit person myself, it seemed a great way to help others find fitness as well. I learned the Nordic Walking technique and qualified as an instructor. I stayed with this group for a year, then in 2009 was invited by Groundwork Caerphilly to help them with their programme of activities - offering cycling, nordic walking and archery. In January 2010 I became a 'Physical Activity Support Officer' and trained to become a Mountain Bike Instructor and Nordic Walking Instructor. Since passing both courses I've now set up my own Nordic Walking Classes.
What is Nordic Walking?
Nordic Pole Walking is a highly recommended low impact exercise that improves fitness and health. It uses specially designed poles to enhance your natural walking experience, with a technique that is similar to the upper body action of classic cross country skiing. It's a fast growing outdoor activity that anyone can perform and it's more beneficial than walking without poles. You use 90% of your total body muscles.
The History of Nordic Walking
Nordic Pole Walking originated in Finland and dates back to the early 20th century. Cross Country skiers used their ski poles to train in the summer months without snow. It wasn't until the 1980s that 'exerstriding' was developed in the USA by a ski coach. His idea was to use the cross-country skiing pulling motion to engage the muscles of the upper body while fitness walking. In 1997 the Finnish Sports Institute launched the Nordic Walking concept. INWA was formed in 2000 with the aim of promoting Nordic Walking globally. Today in Finland alone 20% of the population Nordic walk. Nordic Walking came to the UK in 2005 and British Nordic Walking was formed in 2008.
There are many health benefits derived from the practice of Nordic Walking
A great cardio workout – Heart rate is higher (due to the increased demand)
Burn up to 40% more calories
Uses 90% of all body muscles in one exercise
Eliminates back, shoulder and neck pain.
Less impact on hip, knee and foot joints
Helps tone the upper body as well as losing weight (combats obesity)
Nordic Walking can also help alleviate a lot of health conditions such as:
High Blood Pressure
A lot of sports only workout 'half the body'. When using nordic poles you strenghen all your upper body muscles and improves your cardio vascular system at the same time.
Poles help balance and are a safety factor.
About our group
Towards the end of 2010 I invited local people to join me on some walks around my home town of Blackwood. I soon found out that there were at least 3 walks that would be suitable within a couple of miles along with a walk at Parc Taf Bargoed (Trelewis) a little further away. I stayed with these walks for about a year and in January 2012 Cwmcarn Scenic Drive welcomed the idea of a walk departing from the Visitor Centre. The Drive proved to be a great place to walk with at least 3 routes to take into the forestry, the cafe at the centre also popular after a walk.
Things were falling into place and the opportunity of another great walk came along. The stretch between Pontywaun and Wysomes Wharf cafe near Risca was a good distance and a chance to have a milky coffee and a chat at half way.
In the 4 years since starting the group I have experimented with different routes and now feel that the current set up works well with all of the members. Now operating 4 walks per week with Monday and Wednesday alternating for a change of scenery each week. There are still other areas in Caerphilly that can be used for nordic walking.
In 2014 I decided to call us “Caerphilly Nordic Walks” and gave up the marketing names under the umbrella of British Nordic Walking. Also in 2014 we were one of the sponsors for the “Caerphilly Challenge Series”, a local walking event that attracts over 500 participants.