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Technique tips for your core, orchids in the Gorge, Women in Sport week plus summer walking shoes on test

It’s all go this week in my blog and something for everyone I hope.  First, a little reminder of what to do to strengthen your core and nip in your waist whilst Nordic walking:

Lift – lift your chest up to lengthen your waist;
Pull – pull your tummy button in towards your spine (as though you were about to cough);
Push – push hard through the pole and keep that downwards pressure for as long as possible;
Twist – it’s by rotating your upper body as you do the above three points that you’ll nip your waist in;
Squeeze – squeezing your glutes as you push off with your toes is the final icing on the core cake and ensures your core and glutes work as a team.

My walkers had the challenge of coming up with a good mnemonic to help remember the above.  The best of the week was “Long Powerful Poles Take Strength”.  I’m sure there’s even better ones out there so email me if you can think of one and I’ll put the best in next week’s blog.

Orchids in the Gorge
For all our Saturday stamina walkers and those orchid lovers amongst you, I’ve found out that there are two unusual orchids just near the tow path in the Gorge.  The Wasp Orchid is really quite rare and the Fly Orchid is also not commonly seen.  You can spot both near the rocky section just before Nightingale Valley.

Women in Sport week
It’s been Women in Sport week this week with the theme ‘more women more active’. The aim of the women in sport campaign is to encourage women to try out a new sport or physical activity and reduce the current gender gap in sports participation. We know from what you’ve told us how much difference Nordic walking has made to your lives – bringing the fun back into fitness and a great social support group too – so we’d like to shout out loud and proud about what you have to say.  As well as the masses of uplifting stories on our website, here’s some of your Nordic walking testimonials given in our survey last November.  

 “It has seriously altered my life! I was never a ‘fitness’ person (more theatre/arts).. but I now walk twice a week and the style of walking (using 90% of the body), the fresh air (good for mental health) & the company as well as the lovely instructors make it the perfect combination. Haven’t been so fit since my teenage years so thank you;)! Also it’s fun!”

“I really look forward to my NW sessions, great exercise in the fresh air with lovely people. Good for the body and the soul.”

“It’s the only exercise I have ever stuck with because I actually enjoy it.”

“Fat unfit and 50+ in January, started Nordic Walking – toned up, happier, fitter and have new chums, the only thing I have stuck at – who needs a gym!”

“Bristol Nordic Walking has changed my life; in 2 years since I joined I have gone from a totally sedentary lifestyle and a reluctance to exert myself to someone who cannot wait to get outdoors and walk every day! I feel fitter in my fifties than I have ever felt and I have made new friends, learned a new skill and got to know lots of Bristol’s green spaces very well… I recommend it to everyone!”

“I am 72 years old and never in my life taken part in any sport , only green bowling, except as a spectator. It’s everything !!! exercise, makes you feel good about yourself , tones the body and is very social ( or as social as you want it to be ) . You meet new people for a chat and have good fun with the instructor. I’m amazed at how much I love it. It’s brought something new to my life ( at my age ) in saying that it’s not just for oldies and you can make it as demanding on yourself or gentle as you like . I love it !!!”

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport said “We want more women and girls to get involved in sport and enjoy the huge benefits that being active brings to their lives.”  Well Tracey, just look at what Nordic walking is doing for the women of Bristol – allowing people of varying fitness levels, from no exercise to very fit, to take control of their health and wellbeing.  Age is no barrier and just like walking it can be done anywhere.   In Bristol we’ve built up a safe and fun community where people, men and women, start to enjoy exercise.  It’s the health model of the future.

Summer walking shoes on test
I’ve just received my July copy of Country Walking magazine which contains a buying guide to summer walking shoes.  They were testing for shoes which are light, breathable and flexible but which still maintain good grip.  There’s so much out there that the shoes which I like – the Salomon GTX Ultra – weren’t even on the test list.  If you’re looking to buy a new pair of summer shoes here’s a couple you might want to consider (both were tester’s choices):

  1. Zamberlan Hike Lite 104 (£125) – ‘superb’ traction, comfy, supportive, versatile and lightweight.  The negative was that it lacked support through the ankle.  From a Nordic walking viewpoint I like that it has a leather upper which means it should have good and long lasting waterproofing. 
  2. Scarpa Epic Lite (£135) – lightweight, flexible and highly breathable.  The tester found that there was initial discomfort before the shoe adapted to his foot.

Country Walking magazine is widely available at Newsagents so it may be worth picking up a copy if you want to read their report in more detail.

Vicky