El Dorado Hills walkers stick to Nordic program for full-body exercise

By: Art Garcia, Telegraph Correspondent
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EL DORADO HILLS, CA - If you see what looks like cross-country skiers walking around El Dorado Hills who appear to have missed the Sierra Nevada snow trails in their trek, you’ve come across what’s been a hit in Canada and Europe and now is catching on in the United States, including El Dorado Hills.

It’s called Nordic pole walking and it’s catching on with people of all ages as a full-body exercise without joining a gym or health club.

“I’m a gym rat,” said (Ms.) Michael Lawrie, 50, of Shingle Springs, who also calls herself a “battered athlete” with injuries to her knees and shoulders from a triathalon competition and open-water swimming around the Florida Keys, as well as what used to be regular health club workouts.

She’s been a personal trainer and now organizes pole-walking groups, trains pole-walking instructors and provides seminars for doctors’ continuing education.

Pole walking, she said, “gets you outside and socializing with other people. Unlike normal walking, it incorporates 90 percent of your muscles and burns 46 percent more calories than normal walking. It gets both sides of your brain firing.”

Lawrie, who’s been pole walking since this past January, also has been a decorator for the past 20 years and calls herself an entrepreneur who’s always run a small business.

Now she pole walks, rather than runs, often working with Dr. Lewis Meltz, an El Dorado Hills chiropractor, who teaches pole walking classes two Saturdays a month in the parking lot in front of his office at 981 Governor Drive.

Meltz, a certified pole-walking instructor, charges $25 per 60 to 90 minute lesson and sells the walking poles for $95. At $125, a set of Nordixx walking poles, a carrying bag and 95 minutes of group instruction are included. The age range of those participating has been 6 to 91.

“I find the people most interested in learning how to Nordic pole walk are as much devoted to their overall health and taking charge of it as they are in a regular social activity with friends and neighbors,” he said.

“Instead of running or jogging, you can talk with others with whom you’re exercising and visit while using 90 percent of the body’s muscles,” Dr. Meltz said.

Nordic pole walking will aid in maintaining upright posture, help correct forward head carriage and reduce the compression of low back and knee joints while enjoying a low-impact weight-bearing exercise that everybody can do to help strengthen bones, he said.

The exercise also helps with cardiovascular conditioning, muscle tone, balance and posture “and is generally complementary to other physical problems and ailments caused by overuse, injury or aging,” said Meltz.

“This is not only an aerobic exercise,” he added. “It’s also a conditioning exercise helping with power, strength, coordination, flexibility, speed, endurance and stability.”

Access to the exercise is pavement, road base, gravel or hiking trail or grass at a park or field. The poles are designed with varied tips for use on any surface.

How long a period of pole walking does it take to show improvement?

“It’s not how long you exercise or how far you walk,” replied Meltz. “The benefit from Nordic pole walking is how frequently you exercise. So five to 10 minutes in the morning and five to 10 minutes again in the afternoon or evening is a decent goal to start with and then increase the duration as you improve.”

For more information about pole walking, phone Meltz at (916) 933-2707 or reach him via email at