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Workout of the week: Nordic walking

Trying new workouts is one of the biggest perks of being a Shape fitness editor. And now, once a week, we’ll be sharing those sessions with you! This week’s workout: Nordic walking, reviewed by Marissa Stephenson, Shape’s senior associate fitness editor.

As a kid, I remember seeing two women stride around our high school’s track at dusk every day using walking poles. The activity, “Nordic walking,” (a term I’d never heard at the time) was strange. Why not just walk…normally? This week I finally got my answer.

I took a stroll with Suzanne Nottingham, author of the new book Nordic Walking for Total Fitness. Suzanne outfitted me with a set of  poles and we took off for nearby Madison Square Park. The tourists stared at us and I didn't blame them. (To be in the right form, I had to walk completely erect and swing my arms prominently.) It was a liii-ttle embarrassing at first, but after five blocks I got the cadence down—pushing off my right pole when I took a step forward with my left foot, and vice versa—and I stopped noticing the double-takes and started getting into the rhythm of the workout.

While we trekked Suzanne explained the benefits. “Pushing off the poles propels you forward and allows you to stride faster, engage more muscles, and burn 40 percent more calories than regular walking,” Nottingham says. I like to maintain a quick clip, so the extra oomph I got while using the poles made me feel like a speed racer!

I can’t imagine this will be my new way to commute, but I’m definitely up for trying nordic walking with friends (just like regular strolling, it’s the perfect way to catch up while you squeeze in a workout). Give the amped-up walk a whirl yourself. You can find classes near you at



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