Mandy Shintani agrees. She’s the co-founder of equipment
maker Urban Poling, a British Columbia-based company that
also provides Nordic walking education through an extensive
network of certified instructors like Hildebrandt. Shintani
says business has been flourishing in recent years as Nordic
walking has become more popular in Canada.
“It has grown from most Canadians saying they’ve never
heard of this activity, to where I would say most Canadians
have either seen it, they’ve tried it or they’ve heard about it.
The general awareness of Nordic walking has grown exponentially,”
Shintani notes that Urban Poling’s biggest customer group
is women aged 40-plus. For many of them who are juggling
work and homelife and have little time left for working out,
Nordic walking represents an easy, cost-effective option that
can be as simple as walking out the front door, she says.
Rutlin maintains the growth of Nordic walking in the U.S.
has been slower than in Canada, partly because of the misconception
that it’s primarily a training activity for cross-country
skiing. But that’s changing, he says, as more people experience
Nordic walking and come to understand its benefits.
Nordic walking poles are used differently than those in
cross-country or downhill skiing, and they have special ergonomic
handles that are designed for comfort, safety and
core strengthening. Exerstrider and Urban Poling poles come
equipped with rubber tips for use on sidewalks and roads,
which can be removed to expose metal tips that are great for
gripping ice and snow.
“It’s fantastic for the wintertime because you could take
those rubber tips off and you basically have a carbide steel tip
that will help prevent slips and falls,” said Shintani.
There are numerous types of Nordic walking, and it’s generally
done differently in North America these days than in
Europe. One type pioneered by Rutlin, for example, is based
on more of a natural walking style than European versions
that more closely resemble cross-country skiing.
Shintani said an interesting aspect of Nordic walking is illustrated
in research showing that “when people use poles, they
walk further, they walk faster, and they walk more frequently.
So there’s something very motivational about using poles.”
Hildebrandt says another appealing aspect of Nordic walking
is that it’s a four-season activity. As long as you’re dressed
properly for it in the winter, she notes, Nordic walking is
something that almost anybody can do, and it can be done
almost anywhere. As Hildebrandt said, “all you need is a set
The first step to Nordic walking is buying poles.
Exerstrider poles ranging in price from about
$90 to $100 can be purchased online at
www.walkingpoles.com. Urban Poling poles can
be purchased at www.urbanpoling.com, where
they’re listed from about $85 to $120 CDN in price.
Both brands of Nordic walking poles are also sold
at various retail locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Once you’ve bought your Nordic walking poles,
there are a number of options for learning the
proper techniques. Exerstrider’s Nordic walking
poles come with an instructional video by
company founder Tom Rutlin. In Canada, those
interested can go to the Urban Poling website
and find a certified Nordic walking instructor in
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Mandy Johnson (left) and Lucille Pulliam Nordic walking in
Canmore, Alta., in December, 2015
Urban Poling co-founder Mandy Shintani using Nordic walking poles while snowshoeing
in Callaghan Valley in southwestern British Columbia in 2016
36 April 2018 | snowopsmag.com