Some group members share their thoughts.

Dr Ian Mclellan - Emeritus Consultant Anaesthetist

Writes September 2011:

"Dear Helen, It is now over 6 months since I had my right hip replacement.  I have apparently made a good and speedy recovery and it has been made clear to me by the staff looking after me at the hospital that this is in a large part due to your regime of fitness training before and careful controlled exercise after.

The effect of the exercise in conjunction with dietary control has meant that I have lost over 10 kgs (almost 11/2 stone). This has meant a great boost to my morale.

I would like to thank you for the care you have given me before and during this period and let you know of my appreciation of your care.  I intend to continue with the training in the future."

Ian, a few months after his hip replacement operation at the top of Mere Castle

 Isabel Mclellan says: Ian and I have been training with Helen a couple of years now but due to Ian having a hip replacement in February 2011 it was decided we should try Nordic Walking to encourage his mobility. Well what a difference, Ian and I enjoy the walking and the fact that we are having a complete workout at the same time. We have seen areas where we live that we didn't know existed and have come across different challenges i.e. walking up hills and also at a different pace to what we were used to. So find yourself a trainer who becomes your friend  as well as your teacher.

Isabel Mclellan - who has also lost over 17 lbs since starting Nordic walking.

Update on Dr Ian Mclellan

We started personal training with Helen in 2009 and introduced Nordic walking in 2011. Ian said of himself: "I was an obese, diabetic with high blood pressure".

Since then Ian has lost  a staggering 78 lbs in body fat (51/2 stone). A transformation that has meant huge gains in health and fitness and an inspiration to all. A commitment to training twice a week and eating less have been the key. Setting manageable and achievable weekly goals which consistently and steadily get you to where you want to be has been his method. His self-discipline is to be highly commended. Ian has just celebrated his 70th birthday proving age is not a barrier to weight loss and improved fitness. Also in 2011 he had a hip replacement and continued to train right up until his operation and then continued afterwards with a modified training programme to aid his recovery. Ian is now exploring places with his Nordic poles that he wasn't able to before. Ian 51/2 stone lighter! 

The model represents 5 lbs of body fat, Ian has lost 16 times that amount.

Well Done to Ian and Isabel.

The following is a small piece about Nordic Walking and what is has done, and is still doing, for me. - by Christine Dieppe

The first I heard about Nordic Walking was when, one morning, I telephoned a friend.  "She's not here", said her husband, "she's walking to Norway".  He wouldn't explain further!  When I called back, she was very excited about this new form of exercise she had started doing - called Nordic Walking.  It was only for an hour every Thursday morning and was great - not too strenuous, but it was lovely to be outside to exercise, instead of being stuck in a gym.  Come on, she said, give it a go.  I was looking for something to do as both our local Leisure Centres had closed down recently, and there was not much around to do during the day.  At 64, going out in the evening to do something energetic was not appealing.  So I started.  My health problems were few, thank goodness, just a touch of arthritis in most of the joints, the worst bits being my left shoulder and left hand. To begin with it was quite hard work, trying to master the poles, remember the posture and, last but not least, getting used to pacing myself going up hills. Oh, and remembering to breathe at the same time!  After about three weeks, it all made sense, and I realised this wasn't just going for a walk, I was actually giving myself a total workout for an hour a week.

My problem areas were helped.  My shoulder, which shows calcification under x-ray, stopped being sore as walking from the shoulder with a straight arm helped to tone the muscles around it and I can now use it in the same way as the other one.  I don't get nearly as breathless going up hill or a steep slope anymore, and my recovery time after pushing myself a bit, is much quicker.  My weight has stayed almost the same for a year now, without any special diets or food.  Recently, I had to miss 10 weeks of walking due to an operation on the arthritis in my hand, which meant I couldn't hold the pole and my hand and wrist were quite weak.  After some physiotherapy to strengthen the hand, I am now back to walking, and found it surprisingly easy to get back into the swing, even though I am a bit slower than the rest.

Chris, right and Nordic pal Judi do a few tricep dips, demonstrating just how strong her shoulders have become (and Judi's)

The other wonderful advantage is the social side.  We are a group of about 8 of us, all different ages and levels of fitness.  We all encourage each other and chat on the easy bits.  Helen, our Trainer, says she knows when we are working hard - it all goes quiet!  Helen gives us lots of help and encouragement, helping each of us with the particular problems we might have and is always cheerful ...she keeps us going no matter what the weather flings at us and praises all our efforts.

 All in all, I am very pleased I was introduced to Nordic Walking.  It is doing me a world of good!  - Chris.

February 2014 - How Nordic walking has benefited me.  By Gillian Darwall 

When I started a year ago, I was on regular inhalers and antibiotics to keep my ‘COPD’  (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) under control. Now a year later, I have gone off all medication, my ‘puff’ has actually increased its  lung capacity and I am not coughing as much during the endurance walking.

That’s brilliant and I’m hooked! 

Gill Darwall - Centre

How Nordic Walking has helped to change my life - Sandra Gilchrist

After many years of inactivity, because of pain, I was given two new hip joints. Being taught the Nordic Walking technique by Helen helped me build up my muscles whilst also benefiting my whole body and thus getting fitter. My stamina and general health has improved immensely. By using the poles I can achieve much more than would have been possible a few years ago. I Nordic Walk everywhere and recently I did a very hilly 10 km challenge, in under two hours. Life is good out in the fresh air.

Sandra (65) Nordic walking up the famous Gold Hill in Shaftesbury during the 10 km race.

Charles Dieppe (inspired Mrs Christine Dieppe!) has to say:

It all started one February day. My wife, quite out of the blue, said:

We are entering the Dorset Village Marathon Relay, and some of the teams are short of competitors. Would you like to help out?”

What will I have to do?”

Just walk 6 miles using Nordic Walking poles, for one stage of the race.”

I had never thought about Nordic Walking before, but how can one turn down a challenge? Walking 6 miles did not seem to be a big problem – I walk considerably more than that with my son when we go on our “walking days out”. But, walking with poles did seem a little out of my “comfort zone”.

This was all going on a few weeks before the day of the race.

So, off to meet “Nordic Helen”. My first class was with all women so I felt very self conscious. I did not know how to use the poles, but there was one thing in my favour – I was reasonably fit (or at least I thought so). The girls were great and made me feel very welcome.

Next, I found myself organising a team for the relay! I had no idea what I was doing but everyone was so supportive, I just carried blindly on. I had little or no idea of how to do Nordic Walking, but I was organising “The Wombles”!

By this time I had learnt that there was at least one other man who did Nordic Walking with Helen (phew), and we persuaded another to join “The Wombles” team.

The day of the race came. The weather was sunny and warm, not too hot, just right for the race. {Incidentally everyone was trying to drill into me that it was not a race but “just a bit of fun”.} But with four Nordic Walking teams, competition just had to break through. At each of the “changeover” points there was a group of supporters cheering the walkers through, exchanging lively banter, and generally having a great time.

I was hooked.

“The Wombles” did not come in first of the walkers, but neither did they come in last!

Since that start to my Nordic Walking adventure I have been fairly regularly to “Nordic Helen’s” Friday morning class. I have found out that the Nordic poles have great benefits.

Firstly, they relieve strain on the knee joints. On my “walking days out”, I sometimes find that my knees start aching after climbing up and, particularly after climbing down some steep slopes. I have never found this when Nordic Walking, even with the hills round Shaftesbury that Helen loves to make us suffer each week. My guess is that the Nordic Walking poles take about 30% of the strain off the knees, which is a great help when scaling the slopes of Shaftesbury and elsewhere.

Secondly, Nordic Walking is something that everyone can participate in and enjoy, whilst getting a little fitter in a social group. In the Shaftesbury classes there are people aged from 40 to 73 who regularly attend, and love to get out in the fresh air, whatever the weather, have a good “chin wag”, whilst at the same time getting a bit fitter.

Thirdly, there is room for my competitive nature. There are “races” that the Nordic Walkers can take part in such as the “Gold Hill 10k”, the “Pen Sellwood Tough 10k” etc. For those who think 10k is a little too far there are often options to do 5k or even 2k. Some of the Nordic Walkers take on the longer distances of a half or full marathon (20 or 40 k).

In the Shaftesbury area there are now a small group of men who have taken up Nordic Walking and enter the races. But, don’t run away with the idea that the men dominate in the races – they don’t. Invariably the girls win.

Since I have been Nordic Walking I have got fitter, I have met some super people and enjoyed the competitive “races” I have taken part in.

Whatever your age, I can fully recommend Nordic Walking as exercise, maintaining and gaining a degree of fitness, whilst meeting people from all walks of life.

           Charles Dieppe with Helen and fellow Nordic walker Nikki