It’s almost the end of the year now, and I’m happy to say that I still find my chosen keep-fit activity thoroughly exhilarating and most importantly - fun! It’s pouring with rain today, but I’m still looking forward to going out - such is the amazing protective environment provided by my superb clothing and equipment - but more of that later. I started this activity back on January 9th, and each day I try to venture out for an hour circuit around Hyde Park - as often as I can. Most days I’ve done in a row is 13, most weeks I manage 4-5 days.
I recently compiled my all-time top 10 movies, and it’s amusing to see that Saturday Night Fever - which starts and ends with John Travolta strutting / striding out to music, features prominently in my top 10. Nordic Walking as I do it, is a kind of rhythmatic strutt to music - typically House Music of some variety (more of that later too!), and usually Electro-House or Trance for the faster BPM. In summer months I occasionally mix in Italo Disco when the heat is at its most intense and I don’t need the vigour of the faster pace.
If you like walking briskly to music and watching people and scenery as you move, then Nordic walking could well be your perfect keep-fit activity too. I am so luck to have Hyde Park as my back garden - the mix of flora, fauna and people is ever changing and always interesting; obviously there’s a lot less people around in the winter months. I’ve been out so far in temperatures ranging from 0 to 30 degrees, and have equipment to suit every conceivable eventuality - the key parts of which I will list below.
A driving force for me to update to the new iPhone 4S was its increased 64GB memory capacity, as I use it so much as a music player, particularly on my walks. Nordic Walking is still very much a minority sport in the UK, and it’s very rare that I encounter other Nordic Walkers on my circuit - I’m far more likely to see those Nordic Roller-Skis, which don’t really have the all-round flexibility I require.
I’ve learnt this year how important stretching and warming up / down exercises are, even though I don’t always heed my own counsel. All my equiment is now truly tried and tested, and I’m so pleased that I ended up with what I believe is the best in each area - high quality, weather-proof, durable, comfortable, fully functional. I did spend a fair few days doing desk research and then to-ing and fro-ing between every outward bounds shop in Covent Garden and Kensington High Street. Of course you really only know how good your choices are a year or so into your regime. Everything I have bought remains in tip top shape and perfect condition - having several sets obviously helps with longevity.
Nordic Walking - Key Equipment by Brand
Leki - My Leki Carbon Traveller Poles have been superb - their ergonomics and feel are just flawless. The pads / tips occasionally get spun around just a smidge, and the lower part of the poles occassionally loosens up a tiny fraction, but over the 12 months - they’ve been amazing
Paramo - I hate to think how much I’ve spent on Paramo gear this year, but it’s really been worth it - I recommend Halcon and Quito jackets, Cascada trousers and Stretch pants, Taiga Fleeces, Summit and Trekker Hoodies, Mountain Vent Pull-ons and Cascada T-Shirts - in fact pretty much everything in their activity lines - apart from their underpants! (perfect wicking underpants by the way can be found at Under Armour!)
Salomon - The best Trail Running Shoes - the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX - are also the best for Nordic Walking - I’ve said it before, these offer the best combination of weather-proofness, grip, stability, comfort and durability - they really are peerless, and I have several pairs; at one stage in the summer I felt I could have done with the lighter Speedcross 2 GTX variety, but the good weather did not last! Salomon also do excellent Technical T-Shirts and Technical Shorts in their Minim Range
The North Face - North Face’s Minerale Fabric Flight Series Tees are my favourite summer tees - incredibly light and with very good wicking properties; North Face also do a great range of eTip gloves for iPhone users (I rate the warmer eTip Pamir Gloves), although I also like my slightly less teckie but more waterproof Extremities Guide Gloves
X-Socks - Another key essential for me, Winter Run variety in Winter and Sky Run or Speed Metal varieties in Summer
Rudy Project - exceptional quality Eyewear / Eye Protectors - The Rudy Project Magsters are tough yet lightweight, expertly manufactured in Italy, subtly styled - and with photochromatic lenses for most light conditions
Orca - I spent long and hard seeking out the best Sun Visor - in terms of overall ergonomics and fit, I could not find better than Orca - I tried various other kinds with anti-sweat crystals and the like, and their styling / build quality was never quite up to scratch
Sennheiser - MM 100 Bluetooth headset - I really don’t know why more runners and trekkers don’t use these great headphones - they sound great and they’re cordless for total effortless movement - most people I see are packing wired headphones - why?
Nordic Walking High Tempo Soundtrack
For me, music is a key component of the exercise, it encourages and motivates in its own way and helps you to maintain pace - it also somehow gives me more energy when I’m at a low ebb. To make the exercise properly worthwhile, I usually employ Electro-House and Trance - in the 130 to 140 Beats per Minute range. You may find it hard to keep up with some of the faster tracks, so start a little slower if you’re new to this; I need at least 60 minutes of music to match ny Hyde Park circuit, my favourites are as follows:
Armin Van Buuren - State of Trance Annual Year Mix Compilations (2005 - 2010; 2011 is imminent!) I tend to favour 2010, then 2005, 2006 and 2009; the other 2 are currently relegated from the iPhone
Abvove & Beyond - Group Therapy - Warm and syrupy vocal trance - perfect for wet and cold days
Eric Prydz / Pryda / Cirez D - I have a great Prydz Compilation from 2005 (Executive Mix Vol 2), as well as 49 Pryda tracks and 16 Cirez tracks that I can shuffle and mix up
Swedish House Mafia / Axwell - 2 great compilations of some overlapping hits - Until One and Axtone Vol 1 - SHM ’One Night Stand’ album is due any day now too!
Etienne de Crecy - Beats’n’Cubes Vol 1, 25 versions of 4 recent tracks - can be shuffled and mixed up for ultimate effect
John Dahlback - Excellent ’Mutants’ compilation of his back catalogue
Chocolate Puma - House Masters 3xCD back catalogue compilation with over 2 decades of quality club house
Daft Punk - Alive - All of Daft’s best tracks remixed and beefed up for maximum live impact
Deadmau5 - Latest album 4x4=12, but more importantly also his 10 best tracks before that album
Seamus Haji - Seamus’s greatest hits to date on Big Love CDs 1 & 2, also Seamus-mixed Bacardi B’Live Vol 10 Compilation - CD1
Michael Canitrot - So, Happy in Paris CD2 - great mixed, quality club house compilation
Various - Ayobaness! The Sound of South African House - wonderful Kwaito House compilation