Friday, June 9, 2023

Free Pole Hiking and Pole Walking Training for Veterans

Sierra Club Military Outdoors has received a grant enabling veterans and their families to take poles trainings for free.

The goal of Military Outdoors is to improve the lives of veterans and their families through connections with the outdoors and to inspire members of the military and veteran community to become outspoken champions for environmental conservation and justice.

Sierra Club’s Loma Prieta Chapter has received a special grant from Sierra Club Military Outdoors enabling us to offer Pole Hiking and Pole Walking training (otherwise fee-based) FREE for veterans.

3 types of training are offered:
1. Pole Walking for Balance & Maintaining Mobility
(for people with gait or mobility challenges, deconditioned individuals)
2. Pole Walking for Exercise
(for walkers or people new to exercise)
3. Pole HIKING
(for all level hikers)

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED in order to attend these free trainings:

On the calendar, select the class you wish to register for and attend.
Carefully read the ENTIRE description so you know it will suit your inclination and ability.
Register only if you truly wish and intend to attend (you are reserving a space in a small group session)

POLES will be provided for your use at each training (or you may bring and use your own)


What is the best balance exercise?

October 10, 2021 by  
Filed under Fitness & Health

Many people would say standing on one leg. But what about the lady who brushed her teeth standing on one leg for one minute each and developed HIP PAIN?

Balance is complicated.

So what IS the best balance exercise?
In a word – YES!

Yes!! – Something you do for balance every day.

Even simply activating your tibialis anterior (shin) muscles with quality foot pumps, helps prevent shuffling and tripping (and falling). Heel raises or foot circles for ROM (Range of Motion), address your ankles which are hugely important for balance.

In the Poles for Mobility class, we practice an exercise involving stepping backwards. If you lose this, you fall over backwards.

So what can you do for your balance?

Give yourself a DAILY mental checkmark/pat on the back when you’ve done something for your balance.

I have a favorite balance exercise that involves movement (most falls happen in some kind of movement) that also stretches the quads and shoulders/chest, tractions the wrist/forearm and engages the core. Stay tuned for the next post (I promise it won’t be 1 ½ years away) for the answer.

But, FOR YOU, where are you feeling the least balance? Laterally? Behind you? Probably not in front because walking is a controlled fall. Remember, balance is COMPLICATED. Visual, Vestibular, Somatosensory. Figure out your challenge(s) and, from that, you can get the most out of your time spent working on your balance.

Feel free to comment below with your favorite balance exercise.

Sciatica, IT Band, Hip & Low Back

September 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Coaching, Fitness & Health

This stretch is called:  Shoes & Socks (you’ll see why)

Benefits:  Stretch for outside of leg, low back and hip.  Spinal elongation, upper back activation, posture.

Starting position: 

  • Seated comfortably, back either supported or not (depending on how you feel), feet on floor)


  1. Cross L ankle over R knee, pause
  2. Switch & Repeat (with pauses between movements)
  1. Again Cross L ankle over R knee
    1. Grab L shin with both hands. Activate shoulder retraction and depression (scapular stabilization).  Feel spine lengthen, sternum lift.
    2. Pause, breath and notice what you notice. (3 to 4 quality breaths).
    3. (stretch on outside of L leg and around hip, perhaps into low back)
  2. Return to starting position. Pause and notice what you notice.
  3. Repeat on other side.
  1. Again Cross L ankle over R knee
    1. Repeat shin “pull” and breaths.
    2. Maintain this position and rotate foot in circle 3-4X each direction
  2. Return to starting position. Pause and notice what you notice.
  3. Repeat on other side.
  1. Walk it out noticing how you feel.


Who Knew? (I suspected)

July 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Uncommon Sense

From the NY Times: Stop Using So Much Laundry Detergent . Published July 22, 2021

If you’ve ever reached into your dryer expecting to pull out a load of downy-soft laundry only to find a pile of stiff, starchy garments, there’s a good chance you’re using too much laundry detergent.

Laundry detergent obviously gets dirt and stains out of your clothes, but if you use too much, you wind up creating a new mess. This is a result of detergent residue that hasn’t been fully rinsed out, and it can turn your previously soft wardrobe into a crunchy, scratchy, uncomfortable-to-wear load of clothes. Too much detergent also creates a surplus of suds that can prevent your garments from rubbing against one another (which helps release trapped dirt from your clothes), according to Tide’s website.

Though it seems counterintuitive, the more detergent you use past a certain point, the dirtier your clothes become.
How much laundry detergent should you actually use?

To effectively clean your clothes, you need to use only 2 tablespoons per load at most—and that’s for big loads weighing 12 pounds or more. As staff writer Sarah Bodgan and senior staff writer Liam McCabe say in our guide to the best washing machines, 1 tablespoon is enough to thoroughly clean an average load, which usually weighs around 8 pounds. And if you’re hand-washing, Sarah recommends that you use even less. “When it comes to laundry detergent, a little will go a long way.”

The amount of detergent you should add varies greatly among brands, but keep in mind that the back of your bottle might recommend that you use more than 2 tablespoons per load. “Some detergent manufacturers are going to lie on the label,” Sarah warns in a Wirecutter video about laundry stripping. “But remember, they’re selling a product, and they want you to buy more of it.”

It can be even worse if you’re using high-efficiency (HE) detergent, which is made from high-concentration, low-sudsing formulas and can be used in both traditional and HE machines. Liam and Sarah explain that HE detergents are at least double the concentration of traditional detergents. To clean your clothes, a high-efficiency washer uses less water than a traditional washing machine, so there’s even less water to dilute the detergent.

Wirecutter recommends liquid detergent only, since it’s predissolved. Though pre-portioned pods are convenient, you have less control over the amount. This can quickly lead to a buildup of chemicals and cleaning agents that stiffen your laundry. We don’t recommend powder detergent, either, since it doesn’t always dissolve and can leave behind clumps in your laundry.
The best way to remove detergent buildup (click on link to read the entire article)

Pole Fitting is an ART!

July 12, 2021 by  
Filed under Gear, Poles

Price is only one factor in selecting poles. Poles that FIT are poles that suit your structure, your issues and your goals. Once you find a pair of poles that you love, you will reap the many benefits each time you use them – for a lifetime!

Supply chains are low, but click on this link to see an example of a pair of poles that I recommend (for people under 5’3″ or so:

Another pair of poles that I really like have a 15° angle grip which is ergonomic and recommended for anyone with hand/wrist/elbow/shoulder or neck issues. Email me for more info.

Please don’t forget to include rubber tips in your purchase. These all around tips will fit most poles and last a good long time!

Fires, Terrible Air Quality

September 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

September 2020
California is on fire.
Going outside is unhealthy and a bit scary.

Right now we have 3 air purifiers going full on frappe and we are safely inside with clean air. The purifier we like is a simple model that is quiet and works really well. Why pay hundreds of dollars so your cell phone can talk to your air purifier? You want CLEAN AIR. Blueair purifiers are top rated with Consumer Reports.

This company has several models. If you try one, let me know what you think.

I love this Blue Air purifier fan (for dust and pollen, but not smoke):

Covid-19 – Living in Fear?

May 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Fitness & Health

Last week I had an unusual (for me) GI issue. Of course I immediately looked up Covid symptoms. I tried to stay calm and rational – I’ve been SO CAREFUL.

But still…I took my temperature, stayed in bed 2 days and messaged my doctor.  Then I waited as it passed and 2 days later was hiking again – albeit slowly as I was wiped out.

Now all better and my take home is that I cannot live in fear.
I can be vigilant and careful and channel my inner “Monk” (remember the defective detective?  He was beyond OCD.)  I learned in Chemo how to avoid infection/germs and have used all my best training to stay safe.  My gym students would laugh at my “rules” regarding cleanliness and hygiene.  They’re NOT laughing now.

The best and most important article I’ve seen on Covid-19 is by Erin S. Bromage, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.  It’s long, but take your time and get thru it and let me know what you think by commenting on this post.  Click on the link below:

The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them

Nordic Walking for Exercise – How To Engage Spinal Rotation

May 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Poles for Nordic Walking

As I write this, we are sheltered in place (SIP) so I’ve offered prior class participants a set of older model demo poles which can be used for Nordic Walking. Gyms and parks are closed right now so getting whole body exercise without having to travel will help keep us healthy and active. If you have never taken a class, this post will give you a way to approach pole walking. This is a simple 4 part exercise I teach in my classes to get people walking “with attitude.”

1. Just Walk – no thinking, just walking

2. Notice your arm movement. If you lose your rhythm, return to #1

3. Add ATTITUDE. Call it Juicy Walking, Walking with Spinal Rotation, whatever – the sillier you think you look the healthier and more youthful your stride

4. Curl your fingers

#4 is Virtual Pole Walking. Walk like this for the rest of your life!

Pole Walking is NOT about the poles, it’s about walking with your arms. Practice this and then use your poles in the same manner. Poles should be an extension of your arms when you walk. You’ll feel a little push and exaggerated spinal rotation and, eventually, your stride will lengthen. But PLEASE let it be about YOU and not your poles.

Social Distance for POLE Hikers

March 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous, Uncommon Sense

Most people on the trail GET IT. They’re maintaining respectful distances. A few notable exceptions caused me to rethink my pole etiquette. I’ve been a pole etiquette EVANGELIST for some time now, making my intentions clear so we all have space on even narrow trails.

But yesterday’s runners, cyclists, large groups and parents have forced a proaction on my part. An optimally adjusted pole and an extended arm (angled slightly downward so it does not look like a weapon, but a friendly warning) creates a 6′ distance and alerts those who are not either paying attention or don’t care to please provide the social distance necessary to fight this pandemic. It’s either that or forego being outside.

We need to work together so we can all be safe.

Coronavirus – stay safe

Since Chemo, I have shunned handshakes. It’s hard to do and seems like rejection OR I cringe when offered a handshake and almost immediately look for the closest sink to wash up. If anything good comes from this scare, this might be it.

But in the meantime – stay safe, please!

Free weights in the gym are germ factories. I’ve used sanitizer on them for years.
I’ve washed poles with alcohol for removing poison oak oil; now I’m including the grips. I mix 90% alcohol with a little water and spray the grips. They dry quickly.
I’ve made my own hand sanitizer after finding none in stores and IMO it’s BETTER than the commercial stuff. I got the recipe on line and it’s wonderful.
– 2/3 99% alcohol – bottom line, you need to end up with at least 60% alcohol
– 1/3 aloe gel
– a few drops of an essential oil you like – simple.
note: oil might coagulate so I’ve been making infusions by adding dried lavender or desert white sage to the alcohol and letting it cure a bit before adding to the aloe.
So save your little containers.

What strategies are you using?

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