Veronica Whitney

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July 1, 2005
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Nordic walking: A new way to walk the mountains

BEAVER CREEK - Oofff ! said Nan Dauphine after doing 15 minutes of Nordic walking here on Saturday. "I'm still getting used to the altitude," said Dauphine, 62, who got here from Nashville, N.C., on Friday and participated in Saturday's free Nordic walking tour with the Beaver Creek Hiking Center. "Breathing is an important part of the workout," Nate Goldberg, the director of the hiking program at Beaver Creek, told a group of 20 Nordic walkers. "It's a social type of activity, so you have to feel you can have a conversation. If it gets to a point where you can't have a conversation, slow down."The Nordic walkers took the advise seriously and soon they were chatting and laughing while traversing the hills at the Beav."You work harder in the mountains," Goldberg added. "For example, you work 10 percent harder here than in Denver."Full body workoutNordic walking was introduced in Finland in 1997 and has been rapidly growing across Europe. Nordic Walking was adapted from cross-country skiing and incorporates especially designed poles with fitness walking. The poles are slightly modified versions of trekking poles and cross-country poles. They are light in weight and feature rubber tips allowing walkers to traverse on and off pavement. Those who came to the Nordic walking tour Saturday thinking the sport is just like hiking, realized it offers a full-body workout. The one-and-a-half hour workout included a warm up session, stretching, cardiovascular and strength training.

"You can create it into an all around workout and get out of the gym," Goldberg said. "What makes it so unique is that by using the poles you can burn up to 40 percent more calories, you can increase the cardiovascular conditioning by up to 25 percent and you can lower the impact on ankles, knees and hip joints by about 20 percent."Chuck Dauphine, Nan's husband, said he likes the fact Nordic walking mimics cross country skiing."We've been cross country skiers fro a long time," said Dauphine, 65. "It's a great way to exercise at low impact."Heel to toeHeel to toe is the key to Nordic walking, Goldberg told the walkers."That's how you minimize impact and that's the cool thing about Nordic walking," he said.Soon after the warm-up, walkers were Nordic bounding and Nordic skipping - two variations of the walk that get your heart beat pumping faster and your T-shirts damp."You can do intervals," Goldberg offered. "But push the poles into the ground, that's how you get the best upper body workout."The super-light poles can be easily detach from the straps, so walkers can use them for the stretching and strengthening exercises.

"It's good to be shown how to do it correctly," Goldberg said. "Then, you can take it on your own and do it with a friend."And you can take the Nordic walking poles anywhere."I'll be the first one with the poles on the beach in Miami," said Terry Buoniconti after she finished the tour Saturday.In fact, Nordic walking can be done in the mountains, in Chicago or Central Park, Goldberg said. "They had a huge Nordic walking demo in Central Park recently and in Portland, Oregon, they're doing a marathon where they will allow Nordic walking," he added.Goldberg recommends trail running shoes in the mountains and running or cross training shoes in the cities."In Austria people are Nordic walking left and right," Goldberg said. "We're in the start of the upswing here. We're the first resort in North America to put Nordic walking into a program."Jennifer Roberts, and avid snowshoer from Eagle-Vail, said she loved Saturday's demo tour."I didn't know what to expect," she said when the tour was over. "It was more fun than what I thought it would be." Linda Unland, a cross country instructor from Edwards who also helps at the hiking center in Beaver Creek, said the Homestead Court Club and Arrowhead already are doing Nordic walks once a week.

"It's going to catch on," she said. "Cross country skiing is the best exercise you can do. Why not do it in the summer?"First stepsFor more information and to sign-up for a Nordic walking tour or other hikes, please call the Beaver Creek Hiking Center at 845-5373. Nordic Walking is offered daily throughout the summer for $15 per session. The Hiking Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Sept. 6.The hiking center also offers guided hikes for all ages and ability levels, wildflower walks and treks to the summit of several of Colorado's Fourteeners, navigation skills workshops and hiking tours in Europe.Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or Vail, Colorado

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The VailDaily Updated Jul 2, 2005 07:29PM Published Jul 1, 2005 12:00AM Copyright 2005 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.