Steve Ellis News

What is Inspiration?

Let me tell you a story… almost 18 months ago, whilst enjoying the sun and trekking in Tuscany I received an email from a chap in our home area who was interested in learning how to Nordic Walk; he had just been cleared by his medical team to start exercising following hip surgery and Nordic Walking had been recommended as a way to progress his recovery.

In October 2016, Dave joined us, and a few weeks later he was on his “Introduction to Nordic Walking Course” (23 Nov 2016) and starting to Nordic Walk on a regular basis. Within 3 months, he felt as though his fitness had improved sufficiently to join us for our annual “Winter NW Weekend” in the Brecon Beacons. At times he was challenged by the limitations of muscles supporting his hip, particularly in deep snow and undulations of the ever changing landscape; he rested when required and ultimately had a tiring but great time.

During that weekend, I saw a spark in Dave for adventure and a challenge. The following months leading into Spring 2017, Dave’s confidence grew with his new hip, and as such so did his desire to challenge his fitness session after session. I threw everything at him, developing sessions to be more challenging – speed sessions, fitness tests, hill reps, you name it, we did it – he just kept going. May 2017 was another such challenge, the 39km of the Gauzebrook Gallivant was achieved with ease. June during the 5-day heatwave, Dave, myself and John completed the 104 miles of the Cotswold Way – he took that in his stride. At this point, Dave was joining us for pretty much every session of the week, his fitness was there and new challenges required – “fancy Kilimanjaro in March 2018, Dave?”…a week later he replied, “yep, and my 3 children!”.

We introduced “Trek Fit Training” (TFT) – a weekly outdoor circuit training class specifically to train for treks. TFT is a mix of cardiovascular, strength and endurance activities and exercises – functional training for what we wanted to achieve. Along with Roy (a fellow Kili adventurer), we started training as a 3, in addition to the TFT classes; using a wide range of exercises including our newly developed “Rucksack Fitness” – we were carrying daysacks with added weight (bottles of water) on a regular basis anyway, so why not use them for fitness? Again, Dave took all of this in his stride, pushing us all with his fitness and determination.

Almost a year after starting with us, I trained him to start taking Nordic Walks for us – not instructing, just leading some of our weekly sessions. Again, he took to this like ‘a duck to water’; leading our Nordic Walking sessions with his endless supply of energy and ever present chatty and funny approach to life.

Dave and I share a common sense of humour and willingness to physically push ourselves. It may possibly be due to a mentality forged from our former lives in the Fire Service and RAF respectively; that inner drive and ability to find humour in tough physical situations often defines folk who have served. Needless to say, we do seem to laugh and exchange banter a lot; and this is a common thread with Dave’s approach to leading sessions, he sees and shares the funny side of what we do, and where we go. The friendly relationships he has with our members is great to see; and with his ever increasing ability and thirst for NW knowledge (how to help folk improve their technique) it wasn’t a difficult decision for me to ask Dave the question “how do you fancy becoming an Instructor?”….3 weeks he left me hanging on an answer!

In the meantime, we enjoyed another annual “Winter Nordic Walking Weekend”, “Mountain Days” in the Brecon Beacons along with numerous local “Trail Walks” in preparation for the small matter of Nordic Walking to the summit of the ‘Worlds Highest Freestanding Mountain’, Kilimanjaro.

Dave’s fitness was going great, at that point he had lost 2½ Stone since starting with us; and with a month to go before leaving for Tanzania, during our last big fitness session his hip started playing up…of course, Dave being his usual self took it in his stride; meanwhile I was worried and gutted that he was injured and his trip of a lifetime could be in jeopardy!

However, like a rubber ball, he bounced back and at 8am on 8th March 2018, he and his 3 amazing children (Charlotte, Lily & Ben) stood atop of Uhuru (5895m) – they all made it to the summit of Kilimanjaro, more importantly they all made it down safely as well! I recall talking to Dave as we were slowly ascending through 5500m on a steep slope asking him what he thought of our Nordic Walking technique at high altitude – he just laughed! At that point, each footstep was barely getting in front of the other foot…the poles certainly assisted our ascent, but technique couldn’t really be measured!

So here we are now (15th April 2018), he finally said “ok, I’ll give it a go!”….Dave has sailed through his British Nordic Walking Instructors Course – it is very evident he has learned so much from observing our Gemini Outdoor team of Leaders and Instructors and leading so many sessions of his own.

It’s been an amazing 18 months, we are really proud of all he has achieved; and know that our Gemini Outdoor Members will benefit hugely from his drive, enthusiasm, humour and ever-developing knowledge of Nordic Walking for years to come – well done Dave, you are an inspiration!

If you are inspired and would like to take up Nordic Walking like Dave did, please get in touch…

@geminioutdoor #britishnordicwalking #Malmesbury @britishnordicwalking #nordicwalking #inspiration

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