Tell us a bit about yourself…
Hi, I’m Ros from Bristol & Bath Nordic Walking. My story is I had a mid-life crisis and left my uninspiring corporate job to become a personal trainer (a really good move) but I’d never heard of Nordic walking until it came up on our course. To me it sounded like the perfect way to get fit: it’s outdoors, sociable, non-competitive and you can exercise and talk at the same time. So I tried it and from day one I was in love. I also work as a Healthcare Assistant on a hospital ward which I really enjoy.
Tell us about your preferred Bristol walking route and why you love it so much. How long have you been walking there?
That’s tough as there are so many! I’d say Ashton Court though, as it has everything – stunning views over Bristol, tranquil woodland, pretty deer, rare orchids and of course a few hills to get the heart and lungs pumping. Having a coffee in the café after a sunny Nordic walk is simply glorious. We start at the top and walk downhill to warm up our legs. The walk back up the hill then feels much easier. Ashton Court has some amazing memories for me too; seeing Robert Plant at the Ashton Court Festival in 2003 was incredible.
Do you walk alone or with company? Who normally accompanies you on your walks?
I prefer to be in company by far. The wonderful thing about walking or Nordic walking is it nurtures a non-threatening environment. As you’re not looking someone in the eye it seems to result in a much more open and honest dialogue. The positive effect of this type of conversation can be very powerful, even therapeutic. And I love finding out about people so I’m happy to walk with anyone.
Have you experienced any health benefits from walking?
I have an old back injury from being a nurse and Nordic walking is the only thing that’s helped. I tried loads of different exercises but nothing seemed to alleviate it; sometimes they even made it worse. Nordic walking is a natural movement that balances the body and works the core. It’s wonderful for total body conditioning, posture, the spine, and physiotherapists absolutely love it. Our walkers are always telling me how it’s helped them. It’s magical!
How do you feel when you’re out for a walk?
Being outdoors and moving my body are two of the best things I can do for my emotional and mental health. I feel it every time I’m out: it’s a natural high. I’m perimenopausal, which has been an interesting journey to say the least, but walking makes me feel happier, lighter, more playful – all the good things a lack of hormones can take away. I’ve seen Nordic walking transform the lives of many of our walkers and it has most definitely transformed mine.
Do you have any particular kit you take with you when you’re walking? If so, what do you take and why?
Our Nordic walking instructors take a first aid kit as standard and we wear peaked caps to keep the sun and rain out of our faces. Factor 50 of course (whatever the weather) and we’ve all got good waterproof boots. We’ve learnt that waterproof shoes don’t tend to stay waterproof for long, even if they say they’re Gore-Tex. If you want your feet to stay dry you’ll need waterproof one-piece leather boots (squidgy feet can put even the most enthusiastic walker off!). A small backpack is very useful. I find them much more comfortable than a bum bag.
What tips would you give anyone thinking of getting into walking?
We were put on this earth to walk, it’s your body’s favourite thing to do, and we need to think of ourselves as engines – if we don’t use our parts we seize up. Also, being sedentary lowers your mood, whether you realise it or not. We are naturally outdoor creatures in an indoor world and we need a regular ‘hit’ of nature to keep us balanced. Motion is lotion and if you want to be walking into your 90s or 100s, you simply need to keep walking. There’s no excuse not to.
Anything else you would like to mention?
Bristol Nordic Walking runs 22 Nordic walking classes every week on Clifton Downs, Blaise, Ashton Court, Oldbury Court, Leigh Woods, and we’re also in Royal Victoria Park and Rainbow Woods in Bath – something for everyone! If you’d like to try Nordic walking we’ll ask you to join a 90 minute beginner workshop where you’ll learn the technique with others and we can tell you which sessions would suit you. We supply poles for free.