I literally walked into Nordic Walking.
Why Nordic Walking?
When you ski, you’re on narrow boards and you push the poles hard on the snow to propel the skiis forward. However, when the snow melts around April, skiing feels like a distance dream.
And that’s how Nordic Walking came to be. The Finnish people decided to continue “skiing” through walking using the same technique of thrusting the poles hard on the ground and propelling the body forward. And voila!! You could get the same full-body workout on any surface without snow!
The best part is that the pace is yours. The average pace is around 5 kmph but since I want to get a good workout, I do it at a brisk pace of around 6.5 kmph. I have even competed in a 20km Nordic Walking race clocking 7.8 kmph.
What goes without saying is that the right technique is much more important than the speed, where you push back quickly but smoothly with your pole, using your triceps and you utilise those powerful mid back muscles, i.e. your “lats”. Usually the pace is one where you can talk. This is the beauty of the sport.
Teaching Nordic Walking
Once I became rather good at Nordic Walking, I wanted to impart my knowledge to others, so I chose to become an instructor. After a rigorous course offered by SNO, the Swiss Nordic Organization, I was ready to instruct people, and I went all out to do it!
I got business cards made and dropped them off at the receptions of local general practitioners. I started getting calls from many people who suffered from diabetes, blood sugar and knee and back problems, and so began my journey of giving courses to groups and privately.
And then there were people who wanted to get back to sports after a long gap and since they weren’t ready to start off with running for various reasons, Nordic Walking became the most obvious option. What really surprised me is when I started getting calls from runners and mountain bikers, and groups of them at that!
These participants were either recovering from a sports injury or couldn’t do much of their sports during the harsh winter months and yet didn’t want to become sedentary.
Nordic Walking in India - Evolving with the Sport
It was around this point in time that I started toying with the idea of introducing Nordic walking to India. I did a bit of research and saw that the activity didn’t exist in India at all. After participating in a couple of festivals organized by Nordic Walking UK, some sessions by NW Germany and Switzerland, I began to think - if so many people in so many countries could pursue the sport, then why not in India? I had seen many people walking in the parks in Delhi and Kolkata and this would complement their walks in a brilliant way.
What got tricky is the fact that the activity needs specific equipment, namely, Nordic Walking poles. I had just 14 pairs of demo poles given to me for free by the Swiss dealer of the best poles Leki.
So after advertising on social media for courses in Delhi NCR where I was based, I got a good response from ladies in the 30+ age group. What I also realized is that I couldn’t be in 2 places at the same time and so I needed to train other instructors. Lately, I’m in talks with a major sports goods retailer for bringing in Nordic Walking poles to the India market - it’s really the pre-requisite for getting traction with the sport. I’ve also formed the Nordic Walking Association Of India which is a registered body.
My goal now is to be able to make the activity as popular in India as it is in Europe, and even hold marathons and festivals.
This is clearly a deeply rooted passion of mine. I’ve often been told that it’s a futile pursuit - that it will not earn me any money and it has no future in India. But isn’t that the best reason to push for what you love? At least one day I’ll be able to look back and say that I tried my best to spread the joy I get from this sport.