Nordic Walking; a personal perspective from National Coach, Arlene Bowmaker October 25 2019

Arlene Bowmaker National Nordic Walking Coach

My name is Arlene Bowmaker and among the many ‘hats that I wear’ in my working life are Nordic Walking Instructor and National Coach for British Nordic Walking.

One of the things I love about being a Nordic Walking instructor is that we come from a diverse range of backgrounds. For some, sport and exercise was already a lifestyle feature and the Nordic Walking became a natural evolution, for others discovering Nordic Walking was that defining moment of finding an easily accessible and social outdoor activity that having labelled themselves the non-sporty type fitted without ruining that label! 

I thought I would share my journey in the Nordic Walking world so far, from that first free taster workshop at a Pilates conference, to be being a National Trainer in Scotland and regularly delivering Nordic Walking Instructor training courses in addition to an ‘Introduction to Nordic Walking’ workshops for those interested.

So wind the clock back to 2011; a Pilates Conference in London there was a free early morning session entitled ‘Nordic walking  a taster session’  and it went on to describe it as a way to take Pilates upright and outside.

Intrigued and always looking value for money (well you know how expensive conferences are especially when you add your travel and accommodation) I signed up. Fortunately it was a glorious autumn morning and Regents Park was a spectacular setting, what was there not to like? From my first introduction to the poles my physiotherapy training kicked in. I kept thinking of how I could apply this in a clinical setting as part of client rehabilitation, to increasing exercise tolerance, as an outdoor falls prevention programme and as a way to encourage activity and the socialisation aspects that surround it.

Sold on Nordic Walking, I bought a pair of poles and I was off on a journey of self-exploration to find my co-ordination and streamline the 10 step process. Being the only person walking around my small home town I attracted lots of questions and comments. The old ones are the best but get tedious... “Yes, I know there is no snow” and “No, I haven’t lost my skis!”

So long story short it wasn’t long before I decided to complete my Nordic Walking Instructor training so that I could start formally introducing it to clients rather than just experiencing the benefits myself and telling them about it.  

Shortly after becoming an Instructor the opportunity arose to participate in further training and become a National Nordic Walking Coach and I didn’t need any persuading.

My Nordic Walking adventures have brought me to Poland, Latvia and Spain, as well as spectacular Scottish venues, allowed me to meet fellow Nordic Walkers from many of the member countries (Nordic Walking in Afghanistan… who knew?!) and, of course, build relationships with the fantastic team of National Coaches and Instructors at British Nordic Walking.

At this stage I’ve lost count of the number of Nordic Walks I’ve participated in and the adjectives I could use to describe them are endless; long, short, sunny, dry, sponsored, challenging, exhilarating, inspiring, uplifting, circular, linear, virtual (thanks to World Walking App),  but NEVER EVER boring!

Based in Falkirk in Central Scotland and working as a physiotherapist in private practice, I continue to be passionate about introducing Life Fit Wellness clients to the benefits of Nordic Walking and run regular workshops. In addition I love teaching others to become Nordic Walking Instructors and the fact that we come from so many different backgrounds means it’s guaranteed we continue to promote Nordic Walking far and wide.

Our workshops last for two hours and in that time we explore warm up and cool down exercises, the 10 step process of Nordic Walking as well as fun drills which challenge balance and co-ordination. At the end of the session the plan is you treat yourself to a pair of poles and get practising yourself at a time that suits you, or you join our weekly evening sessions to further practice and meet others.

We also host British Nordic Walking Instructor courses here in Falkirk using the physiotherapy practice as our indoor base and the scenic surrounds of Callendar Park for all our outdoor practice. Dates already in the diary for 2020 are 14th/15th March and 22nd/23rd August.

 I am happy to advise with your travel and accommodation plans especially if you aren’t local, and want to make a holiday out of it and stay for longer to discover the Falkirk Wheel, the Kelpies and the John Muir Way, to mention just a few of our local landmarks.

If you already are an instructor remember we will be hosting a Scottish Nordic Walking event planned for Saturday 2nd May 2020 which is a great way to review, refresh and network with other NW Instructors. Please feel free to get in contact and register your interest.

In the meantime I count myself privileged to continue to deliver two Nordic Walking sessions weekly with a fantastic group of individuals exploring local locations. I’m the girl from Northern Ireland leading folk who are local to the area to discover new paths and places on their doorstep!

Being a Nordic Walking Instructor is such a rewarding, diverse role. Over the years I’ve met so many from  a wide variety backgrounds each bringing something special to the NW sessions they deliver based on the other ‘hats’ they currently wear or previous career or life experiences.

So perhaps you too have discovered the benefits of Nordic Walking in which case definitely consider taking that next step to train as an Instructor and share the love! Who knows where that first step will take you?  I don’t know, but what I do know is you’ll have fun, get fitter and meet some great folk en route.

Maybe see you in Falkirk folk??