By Katrina Ffiske

“You must try it,” shouted a friend of mine, as I puffed and panted up a hill behind him. “It makes you so much fitter and makes walking fun.”

As a keen walker, I couldn’t see why two sticks would help, but when Marisa, local to Salisbury, put a WALX leaflet through my door stating: “Master pole walking in 90 minutes, burn more calories and feel lighter on your feet”, I took up the challenge and booked an appointment.

“This is a new job since lockdown, ” Marisa told me. “Like many others, I was made redundant and was looking for something new, more a ‘lifestyle’ than a 9-5 job. As an avid walker, I snapped up the opportunity to have the Salisbury area for WALX. I have been fully-trained and already started doing local walks. I cover a wide area from Amesbury to Shaftesbury.”

Slightly apprehensive, I was immediately put at ease by Marisa when we met up at Harnham Recreation Ground. Two poles were placed in my hands, and after warming-up exercises Marisa demonstrated how to hold the poles.

“The reason why Nordic walking is so good for us is that we use our upper body too, you feel your whole body and core being worked with every step,” Marisa told me as she demonstrated the movement.

The pole has a small ledge that you press down on when you place the pole in the ground, this small amount of pressure means that you are engaging your core.
Very soon, we are walking around the recreation ground, Constable’s view of Salisbury Cathedral, stetching before us. To begin with, I felt like a puppet getting its strings in a tangle, but after calm explanation from Marisa: ‘Lengthen your arms; there must be a V-shape when you swing your arms; look up; stand straight, shoulders back; keep your poles pointing forward’ – there are moments when I beleve that i am gliding along. I felt my posture change and my hunched shoulders go back.

The WALX leaflet promises you will feel lighter on your feet, and I can genuinely confirm that you do feel lighter. The good news is that the poles also make going up and down hill easier.

At the end of the session, I am given a Freedom passport. This allows me to join group walks that Marisa organises or, if tempted to travel, I can join a WALX group around the country. The session was a very reasonable £16.50, and to join in a group local walk, it is only £5.50: a perfect way to get exercise and meet new people.
Marisa also offers Wellness WALX, gentle walks that incorporate balance work, flexibility and strength, maybe a bit of yoga or relaxation.

“Whether long, short, tough or gentle we welcome all ages and all levels. It is a great way of getting exercise and getting to meet people.”

At the end of the day, after one 90-minute session, I really did feel I had had a full work out. The best thing is, it was a pleasant way to get exercise, out in the fresh air and among nature. What could be nicer?

For Nordic Walking lessons or for a local walk call Marisa on 01722 433 506. Facebook: WALX Salisbury