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Exerstrider - The Original Nordic Walking Poles

"Nordic walking" has been defined by the International Nordic Walking Association (INWA) as "fitness walking with specially designed poles".  While there are actually a number of different forms of Nordic walking practiced around the globe, Exerstriding (introduced in 1988) is the original form of Nordic walking, and it pre-dates Finnish and other European versions by nearly a decade.  

According to David Downer, certified INWA Instructor, Nordic walking activist, Nordic walking historian, and author of Nordic Walking Step by Step , "As a form of exercise in its own right and completely detached from skiing, hiking and trekking, the activity of fitness walking using specially designed poles was pioneered in the U.S. by an avid cross-country skier and certified Nordic skiing coach Tom Rutlin beginning in 1985".

Click here to see what David Downer says about Tom's role in Nordic Walking.

I call my original version of fitness walking with poles "Exerstride Method Nordic walking", "Exerstride Total Body Walking" or simply "Exerstriding". Exerstriding is simply a specific natural technique of Nordic walking carefully designed using my 28+ years of dedication and experience to maximize the involvement of large core strength muscles in the trunk as well as the back, shoulders, arms and chest so as to maximize the physiological benefits, as well as the enjoyment and safety of the exercise. 

All Nordic walking is a hybrid of walking and Nordic skiing. Exerstriding is to Nordic walking what Rollerblading is to inline skating.  It's the orginal!  The simplest way to understand the distinction between Exerstriding and thechniques rooted in Finland is that Exerstriding features a natural, comfortable walking stride, while the Finnish technique features a long ski-imitation stride. The Finnish branch of the Nordic walking tree also features long arm range of motion that mimmicks Nordic (cross-country) skiing, while the arm range of motion of Exerstriding is less about imitation of Nordic skiing and more about maximizing the involvement of the core, back, chest, spinal supporting and arm muscles

Nordic walking in Europe is generally promoted as a sporting activity that is a seasonal counterpart to Nordic skiing.  Exerstriding also resembles Nordic skiing, but it was designed to be both a health and fitness optimizing physical activity for people of all ages, abilities and sizes -- and, at the same time, to be enjoyable enough to create a positive addiction!                                

Whether you call it Exerstriding, Nordic walking, fitness trekking, Urban Poling or pole-walking, walking with poles has been a great way for me and many others to achieve and maintain total body fitness since I first conceived of it as a regular form of exercise in its own right back in 1985. I've now been seeking the most effective and safe methods of using poles to maximize my health and fitness and that of others for more than 25 years. I invite you to learn about my techniques and innovative Nordic walking equipment designs that have proven to deliver maximum fitness results, and also made Exerstrider Nordic walking poles the world's #1 fitness walking poles.

"I met Tom when he was a speaker at the AVA Convention in Austin, Texas in 1993 and bought my first set of poles.  Since then I purchased a newer set with the AVA logo and passed the older ones on to a friend.  The new tips I ordered are for the both of us.  I have been reading about  Nordic Walking like it was just invented and I know differently because I have been doing it for years. 

I recently began taking a "Nordic Walking"  class to meet other walkers and the teacher never mentioned Tom in the history of the sport.  I told her about him and will take the interesting article "It's Not Soccer..."  I found on your web site so she can understand the whole story. 

Everyone in our neighborhood knows me as "the lady that walks with the poles" and I am a walking, talking advertisement.  The Exerstriders are great for upper body strengthening.  I am 74 years old, have a small build and a mother who had osteoporosis in her 50's, yet my bone density is still normal and I have never had knee problems.  Now they are especially helpful with balance as I walk our year-old energetic 50 pound Labradoodle puppy.  I appreciate you fine product that has helped me live a healthy, active life."

Barbara Piersol, President San Marcos River Walkers (AVA Volkssport club)

Exerstriding has been making headlines since 1988!

• "Exerstriding: A workout for everyone“ Exerstriding involves pushing with the modified ski poles as you walk or run. The added arm push works the large muscles of the upper body and ˜supercharges' any walking or running program." “ The Capital Times newspaper, December 13, 1988

• "Exerstriding is the name of the new trend from the USA. Go cross country skiing in the green. Exerstrider is used with athletic shoes and ski poles with rubber bottoms on the tips¦one always pushes off with the poles. Hips, knees and joints are less burdened. By using the Exerstrider poles in this way, the upper body gets a workout." “ Esquire magazine (German edition) July, 1989

• "Exerstriding is like cross-country [Nordic] skiing without the skis. By using the lightweight poles to propel your stride, you add the large muscles of your upper body to your standard walking workout. Besides toning your arms, shoulders, and chest muscles (and believe us, you do ˜feel the burn' the harder you push), you also boost your cardiovascular workout. Holding the poles forces you to swing your arms. The added benefit is 30% or greater caloric burn than walking without the poles, according to research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison." “ Walking magazine - September 1990

• "Get ready for Exerstriding! It's new, it's hot and it's coming soon to a neighborhood near you. Exerstriding is a new fitness walking technique that uses specially designed poles to create a total body workout. It firms up stomach, chest and arms, and strengthens the back. It gives you all the benefits of cross-country [Nordic] skiing 365 days a year and is easier to use than a ski simulator." “ Woman's Day magazine - summer, 1993

• "Poles Designed to Make Walking More Vigorous “ Cross-country skiers know that poles give power and balance to their stride. Now, there are poles for walkers, an idea based on the fact that two sticks are better than one. The basic idea is not new. But walking poles are being suggested for use as part of a regular exercise routine." “ The New York Times - October 14, 1993