The use of Nordic poles, similar to those used in cross-country skiing, has given Solon seniors a whole new way of walking.
For 73-year-old Elizabeth Watson, the new Nordic Pole Walking Class, offered for the first time at the Solon Senior Center, was an opportunity to try something different.
“There is this certain rhythm that you have to get into,” said Ms. Watson of Solon. “That is sometimes a challenge.”
An avid walker herself, she said the class allows participants to use more upper body strength than usual.
“That makes it more beneficial for you, and you work up a sweat,” she said. “Just lifting up the poll and bringing it forward makes for such a good upper body work out.”
Each Friday morning, seniors take to the paths around the senior center and the Solon Community Park for the low impact fitness exercise.
“The ideal environment is in nature and suburban parks,” Solon Senior Center Director Jill Frankel said, “which we fortunately have easily accessible.” Nordic walking originated as a cross-training exercise for elite cross-country skiers, Ms. Frankel said, and is good for people of all ages and fitness levels.
“Walking is something that can be done and enjoyed individually or as a group activity,” Ms. Frankel added. “We decided to try it as a group activity because the opportunity to socialize maximizes the benefits even more.”
Course instructor Christie Cox, a Solon resident, said she first used the hiking poles on a traditional hiking trip to more evenly distribute the weight of heavy backpacks and reduce the stress on joints when ascending and descending mountains. She said she was skeptical at first about their benefit on flat ground, but soon realized that once she got the rhythm down, the poles were great for exercise.
She breaks up the class each week into two groups, the “let’s go” group and the “learning” group, with both walking more than 2 miles.
“The conversation is lively, and laughter is abundant in this class,” she said.
“I’ve heard participants say ‘it is such a good workout. It’s reducing stress on my back’ and ‘the poles have become a part of my stride.’”
“Just lifting the polls and bringing them forward makes for a good upper body workout,” Ms. Watson added.
Solon resident Peg Bednar, 71, said Ms. Cox is a “wonderful trainer.”
Her first day taking the Nordic pole walking class, which attracts about a dozen people each week, included her getting her legs and arms going at the same time.
“The legs wanted to go faster than the arms,” Ms. Bednar explained. “But once you get the rhythm down, it’s a piece of cake.”
After class, Ms. Bednar said she feels invigorated.
“You are outside breathing the fresh air and in the shade,” she said. “I’m so glad they started this.”