History of Nordic Walking
Since the 1930’s, Finnish cross-country skiers have used poles for their summer training.
1966 – 1996
• 1966 The first documented “walking with ski poles” lessons and promotion outside of competitive sport training were introduced by Leena Jääskeläinen, a Physical Education (PE) teacher in the School of Viherlaakso, Espoo Finland. She promoted ‘walking with poles’ as a physical activity that is suitable for all.
• National TV channel MTV3 broadcasted an interview of Leena Jääskeläinen and a demonstration of Nordic Walking with the students of the Myyrmäki school in Vaanta Finland.
• 1979, Mauri Repo, the former cross-country skiing head coach of TUL in Finland, introduced in his publication “Hiihdon Lajiosa” (cross-country skiing training manual) various off-season training methods for cross-country skiing athletes. Many of these training methods included walking and running with poles.
• 1987 The first ‘presentation’ of walking with ski poles at a public event was made by Leena Jääskeläinen in the Finlandia kävely (Finlandia Walk) in Tampere.
• 1995 In the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the first scientific articles were published about energy expenditure in pole walking versus walking.
• 1996 Collaboration starts between Suomen Latu, Sports Institute of Vierumäki and Exel, a manufacturer of poles.
• Publication of an article inside the ‘Latu ja Polku’ magazine of Suomen Latu and the ‘official launch’ of the physical activity called “sauvakävely”.
• Presentation of the name “Nordic Walking” in English
Aki Karihtala with his team at Exel invents the name “Nordic Walking” for international use. Exel starts implementing the marketing concept of Nordic Walking and officially starts the commercial launch of Nordic Walking.
• Exel introduces the first composite Nordic Walker® pole in Finland as a result of co-operation with Suomen Latu and the Finnish Sports Institute.
• The first instructional materials for Nordic Walking are developed and the first Nordic Walking Instructor courses are held by Suomen Latu.
• The explosion of Nordic Walking begins.
• International promotion of Nordic Walking starts in the Scandinavian countries.
• A presentation is made to the Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and his wife.
• 160,000 Finns practise Nordic Walking regularly while 520,000 have tried it (Suomen Gallup) (Population of Finland is 5.3 million).
• National Award “The Health Promoting Action of the Year” (Vuoden Terveysteko) is given to Suomen Latu.
• First Nordic Walking video in Finnish.
• A photo of Pope John Paul II Nordic Walking appears in the Sunday Times.
• Nordic Walking is introduced in Switzerland, then in Germany and Austria.
• The International Nordic Walking Association is established in Finland to promote and teach Nordic Walking worldwide.
• The first draft of the International education system and materials is developed.
• Exel gets the Innovation Finland 2000 award for the development of Nordic Walking internationally.
• Exel is a finalist of the ‘Brand New Brand’ competition with the Nordic Walking concept at the International Sporting Goods Exhibition (ISPO) Winter 2001.
• Germany and Austria are the first official INWA-member countries.
• First international Nordic Walking video is produced in co-operation between INWA and Exel.
• The “Nordic Fitness Sports” concept is introduced.
• The first INWA Convention was held in Vierumäki Sports Institute in Finland.
• The number of participants in Nordic Walking worldwide doubled from one million to over two million.
• Nordic Walking and Nordic Fitness Sports is the main theme in the International Sporting Goods Exhibition, ISPO.
• Shoe and clothing brands like Adidas, Meindl, Salomon, Odlo etc. start selling shoes and clothing especially designed for Nordic Walking.
• The ‘Nordic Fitness Sports Park’ concept goes public.
• Nordic Walking starts spreading outside of Europe.
• INWA has 13 member associations.
• INWA’s second instructor manual and educational materials are presented at the third convention in Faak am See. During these three days INWA 10 steps™ was presented by Malin Svenson, Siri Meland and Marco Maas, International Trainers.
• Several magazine articles in Europe describe Nordic Walking as the ‘megatrend in sport’.
• The education committee presented in Ototec, Slovenia, an update on teaching techniques for Nordic Walking and walking technique was added to the INWA 10 steps™
• Aki Karithala flies to China to promote Nordic Walking.
• On 30th September, in Buenos Aires, INWA is approved as a member of TAFISA, the worldwide Sport for All organisation.
• There are Nordic Walking activities in approximately 40 countries and it is a growing trend in many parts of the world.
• Celebrated 10 years of INWA Nordic Walking during the INWA Convention in Otepää, Estonia and Riga, Latvia in September.
• INWA organised the first World Nordic Walking Day (10.10.10), with a series of events across the world.
• International trainers supported the National Nordic Walking organisation in Slovenia during the National Convention in Kranjska Gora.
• The educational committee launched a new version of the instructor manual during the convention in London 2011.
• International Coaches presented workshops at the NNWA event in Sendai Japan 2012.
• Marco Maas, International Trainer, and his team trained 31 instructors in Qinghai, and 71 National Trainers at the University of Sport in Beijing.
• Instructor course in Zhan Jiang, 50 participants from 19 universities took part.
• The first International Nordic Walking Challenge in Qinghai was organised.
• INWA re-welcomed Finland as a new INWA member.
• INWA welcomed the first members in the Middle East.
• INWA developed the rules and introduced the INWA World Cup Competition concept for Nordic Walking.
• INWA World Cup in Qinghai China.
• International Nordic Fitness Forum and convention in Kyoto Japan.
• INWA World Cup in Yixing in China and in Carnikava Latvia.
• In Krasnoyarsk, Russia, the RNWA organized a mass event. Nordic Walking grows quickly in Russia.
• INWA has 21 member countries by the end of 2018.
• April 28th First INWA Race Official Course took place in Tallinn Estonia.
• INWA World Cup in Yushu (Tibet) 1-7-2019.
This was the first INWA World Cup at a high altitude (3600 meters high!!!!) Number of competitors was around 100 and about 1000 students participated in the recreational walk.
• INWA World Cup in Lahemaa Estonia 7-7-2019.
About 60 people from Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Japan, Finland, U.K., Russia, Bosnia Herzegovina and France’ competed in the race. There were also approximately 400 recreational participants.