These poles were made for walking…
How Nordic walking can help your fitness business

By adding a fun, effective yet low impact lifestyle training option to your repertoire, you can cater to clients who wouldn’t otherwise engage your PT services, says Maree Farnsworth.

As a fitness professional you will have encountered clients – and prospective clients – that want to achieve improvements in their fitness but who, for various reasons, don’t feel comfortable working out in a ‘traditional’ training environment.

They might be carrying injuries, or seeking to improve upper body strength but without ‘doing weights’. Alternately, they may outright refuse to participate in high intensity exercise, or want to achieve fat loss but have an aversion to exercising on the gym floor or in group exercise classes.

For these clients, you may need to offer a form of ‘lifestyle exercise’ that differs from the usual range of personal training options – and if you don’t offer it then they may seek someone else who can. It can be challenging to find a lifestyle exercise that ticks all the boxes. The main aerobic exercises of jogging, cycling and swimming all provide excellent workouts, but if injuries or other reasons present barriers to participation for clients, then you may find yourself scratching your head to come up with something suitable.

You need to be able to offer an exercise that is highly effective yet low impact; can be performed by almost anyone, anywhere; has minimal set up costs; and, most importantly, is enjoyable. There is such an activity, and it’s called Nordic walking.

The lowdown on Nordic walking

Nordic walking is a form of fitness walking which utilises specially designed poles and a learned technique to create a low impact, high results, total body workout. Developed by elite cross country skiers for their off-season training, it may look deceptively basic, but it facilitates a wide range of health and fitness benefits.

Studies in Europe and the US have proven the following fitness benefits (assuming correct technique is performed):

  • activates 90 per cent of the body's muscles
  • burns up to 46 per cent more calories than regular walking without poles
  • gives up to 25 per cent greater cardiovascular workout than regular walking
  • decreases the load and impact on the joints of the lower body
  • strengthens the upper back, shoulders and arms
  • increases the lateral mobility of the spine
  • develops core stability
  • promotes an upright and balanced walking posture
  • improves co-ordination and balance.
Pole position

Nordic Academy is the leading authority and provider of training and equipment to health and fitness professionals across Australia. Its 1½ day course runs in all states and is accredited with Fitness Australia, ESSA (Exercise and Sport Science Australia), APMA (Australian Pilates Method Association) and ALMA (Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association).

Nordic Academy works with its qualified instructors to quick start their Nordic walking services. Its Professional Membership Network provides promotional material, apparel, how-to guides, templates, running sheets, and more to ensure the success of new instructors’ Nordic walking programs.

To find out more click HERE or call 1300 791 740.

The Nordic walking technique can be customised and/or intensified to accomodate any individual‘s existing physical ability or fitness level, which ensures that all clients (from elite athletes through to injury rehabilitation participants or everyday fitness enthusiasts) achieve a challenging and beneficial workout.

In addition, Nordic walking is cost-effective and easy to facilitate, which is why personal trainers, exercise physiologists, sports coaches and physiotherapists are incorporating it into their training programs and services.

Even though Nordic walking originates in the cool Scandinavian countries, it is well-suited to Australia’s climate, vast and differing landscape and outdoors lifestyle. It can be done anywhere that normal walking is done – on sand, gravel paths, asphalt or grass, and on flat or hilly landscapes – making it available to almost everyone, whatever their location.

How can it help your business?

It’s not only the clients who benefit. Adding organised Nordic walking sessions, including the initial tuition, to your training repertoire also makes business sense. By offering Nordic walking you have:

  • an opportunity to attract a much wider range of clients, from those looking for a low impact exercise due to injuries, or baby boomer clients who want to be more active (and have the funds to do so)
  • a way of attracting clients with chronic conditions: working with and providing these clients with an effective exercise solution is very rewarding, both emotionally and financially
  • a new ‘group’ exercise add-on to your existing programs
  • opportunity to create an additional revenue stream from the on-selling of equipment (poles and accessories).

To add Nordic walking to your fitness business offerings, you need to become a certified Nordic walking instructor with a reputable training organisation.


For a look at the efficacy of Nordic walking as a form of exercise, read Professor Mike Climstein and Joe Walsh’s Research Review: Do Pilates and Nordic walk the walk?

Maree Farnsworth, BAppSc (Human Movement) is co-founder and co-managing director of Nordic Academy. With 20 years’ health and fitness industry experience she has managed corporate health clubs and worked as an exercise physiologist.