Our Master Trainers
We’re proud of our outstanding team of Master Trainers which span across Canada. Our highly acclaimed programs have attracted over 3,000 graduates!
Master Trainers: Fitness Certification
Barb Gormley (Director of Education & Master Trainer)
Through her Toronto-based company CustomFit, Barb works as a personal fitness trainer, health & fitness writer and urban poling instructor. As Urban Poling’s Director of Education, she produces the company’s educational fitness materials. Barb has written numerous magazine articles on the benefits of Urban Poling and also presents at conferences, tradeshows and health fairs across the province.
Louise Hickey (Master Trainer & Ambassador- Northern Ontario)
Louise has been a college professor in exercise sciences for over 25 years. She is a CSEP-Certified Exercise Physiologist and a Course Conductor for CSEP certifying personal trainers. She is a level 3 curling coach and instructor, Learner Facilitator for coaching courses, a coach assessor, and an avid curler. She is a Master Trainer for the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity working with the Women 55-70+ group. As a new master trainer and instructor for Urban Poling, she see this activity as a perfect fit for women in this age group as well as a perfect year round activity for people living in Northern Ontario.
Sarah Merkel (Master Trainer – Central Ontario)
Sarah is the owner of Fashionably Fit, a training business in London, Ontario; and is also an Urban Poling master trainer. She graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences degree specializing in Health Promotion from the University of Western Ontario. Sarah has a passion for improving the health and fitness of older adults, and is currently a master trainer for the Senior Fitness Instructor Course for the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging.
Kari Galasso (Master Trainer – Eastern Ontario )
Kari is the owner of Fit to the Core, and a Personal Training Specialist (canfitpro) with a BA in Health and a BA in Physical and Health Education. Kari has worked for a number of years as a fitness trainer and offers Urban Poling classes on a regular basis in the Kingston region. She has worked with a number of highly motivated and outstanding youth sports teams, and as a seniors fitness instructor, and is constantly helping people improve their balance, flexibility and strength when they thought perhaps they couldn’t!
Mandy Johnson (Master Trainer & Ambassador- Alberta region)
With a degree in physical education from York University, and a diploma in adult education from George Brown College, Mandy has worked in the fitness, health promotion, and recreation sectors for over 30 years and has been a presenter at many national and international conferences on the topic of walkable communities. Mandy has been an Urban Poling instructor since 2008. Mandy “walks the talk” of being an active transportation consultant, living in a walkable area of her home town and often urban poling instead of driving. She also loves to head into the mountains surrounding her home town, where her Urban Poles are indispensable especially since being a recipient of a total knee replacement in 2006! As the Alberta ambassador for Urban Poling, Mandy is looking forward to sharing her “passion for poling” throughout the province and making Urban Poles as indispensable as smart phones!
Sue Yackulic (Master Trainer – Northern Alberta)
For the past 15 years, Susan who has her Master’s degree in Education has been an ATA Association Instructor in which she has passionately presented workshops at professional development days, conventions, and conferences. She has worked for 20 years as a Master Learning Facilitator for the National Coaching Certification Program of Canada. In recognition of her dedication to the teaching profession, she was awarded a National “Moving to Inclusion” award. Presently, she is coaching people to reach personal success and achieve their wellness goals through her business as a Personal Trainer. She has also working with the Alberta Centre for Active Living as a content expert in knowledge translation. In order to practice what she preaches, Susan has completed several marathons and has competed in the World Masters Games in 2005 and Australia in 2009 in which she won a gold medal and 3 bronze medals. She was a member of the Canadian National Triathlon Team that competed at the World Long Course Triathlon in Australia in 2009.
Wendy Benzon (Central Alberta)
Wendy Benzon became a certified Urban Poling Instructor in 2007. Her passion for Nordic walking is evident as she continues to teach a variety of Urban Poling classes to groups and individuals, plus leads a weekly walking group in the beautiful Badlands of Drumheller, Alberta. Wendy is also AFLCA certified in Group Exercise, Older Adult Exercise, Resistance Training and Ever Active Kids. Wendy enjoys promoting and teaching people of all ages and abilities the benefits of Urban Poling.
Sharon Couldwell (Master Trainer – Southern Manitoba)
Sharon is owner of Fitness Concepts, as well as a Manitoba Fitness Council Certified Fitness Leader and an Urban Poling master trainer. Sharon has been teaching fitness classes for over 20 years, specializing in Urban Poling classes and classes for older adults. With her passion for teaching and her enthusiasm for fitness she has embraced the new activity of Urban Poling and is excited about sharing her knowledge.
Kimberly Willison (Master Trainer –Central Saskatchewan)
Kimberly is a Recreation Therapist working with Community Older Adults and the Forever…in motion program, and has been working for the Saskatoon Health Region since 2010. She is also Fitness Instructor and Trainer for SPRA and has been teaching since 1994. Passionate about fitness, she loves the flexibility and variety that becoming a Master Trainer for Urban Poling has given to her training. Teaching everyone and anyone about Urban Poling is her passion.
Nancy Angus – (Northwestern Ontario Region)
Nancy works for the City of Thunder Bay and was their first community program developer for older adults. She was trained in 2006 as an urban poling instructor. Along with being a recreationist and an avid urban poler, Nancy is a freelance journalist. She was the Northern Ontario contributor to CBC Radio’s Morningside with Peter Gzowski and a content creator for Canadian Living’s website. She is also a Master Trainer for the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity working with the Women 55-70+ group.
Laura Clements (Master Trainer – Central/Eastern Ontario)
Decades of experience leading fitness courses and teaching health and wellness seminars show Laura’s commitment to the industry. Along with having trained hundreds of people urban poling, Laura is a Certified Personal Trainer, Active Aging Specialist, Healthy Back Specialist, and continues to deliver Brain Health seminars, as she believes walking with Urban Poles in nature is the best formula for our brains.
Sarah Lord (Master Trainer & Ambassador – New Brunswick)
Sarah Lord is the Health & Wellness Coordinator at Jean Coutu Pharmacy in Riverview, NB. She has a Ph.D. in diabetes research (islet transplantation) from the University of Alberta. But her main passion was always to work with people living with diabetes to help to improve their lives. For the past 10 years she has done exactly that by building community walking programs, coordinating diabetes clinics, offering weight management services, all free of charge at the community pharmacy where she works. On the weekends Sarah is an Outdoor Enthusiast who hikes with a local club. Sarah is also a certified hike leader with the Outdoor Council of Canada. She runs a facebook page called, ‘Maritime Outdoor Adventures’- a group that mentors outdoor leaders, hosts outdoor events and workshops to help introduce people to outdoor activities. Sarah is 42, has a boyfriend, Roger, and 2 step-kids Kayley (11) and Connor (16).
Master Trainers – ACTIVATOR Course for Rehabilitation & Wellness Professionals
Mandy Shintani (Co-owner of Urban Poling)
Mandy is one of Canada’s leading experts on the health benefits of Nordic walking and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy and a Master’s degree in gerontology. She has written and co-produced the Instructor and ACTIVATOR course and is co-developer of the ACTIVATOR poles . Mandy has been interviewed by the Globe & Mail online, CBC Early Edition, Zoomer Magazine and Urban BC Physiotherapy Directions and has presented at national conferences across the country including the National and Alberta Fall Prevention Conferences. She was a Finalist for YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in 2010.
Sue Colbourne (Master Trainer – Vancouver Island region)
Sue is an Occupational Therapist and a strong believer in the benefits of exercise for physical strengthening, stress reduction and pain management, and in recent years has become particularly interested in the role of exercise in improving cognitive function. She has seen the benefits of Urban Poling with the individuals and groups that she works with and appreciates the flexibility of being able to choose either the Urban Poles or the ACTIVATOR poles depending on each individual person’s level of function.
Margaret Martin (Master Trainer – Eastern Ontario & Quebec)
Margaret is a physical therapist and strength and conditioning specialist. She combined her clinical physical therapy experience, her knowledge of fitness training and her study and review of the most current medical and scientific literature to develop the MelioGuide programs. Each of the programs was designed to challenge individuals at their level of fitness and bone health without putting them at risk. Margaret was the recipient of the 2011 Award of Distinction from the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario for her significant contributions and achievements as a physiotherapist.
Cathy McNorgan (Master Trainer – Southwestern Ontario)
Cathy is a physiotherapist practising in the community and in long-term care. She has a strong fitness background and particularly enjoys working with older adults. Cathy loves to teach and is always looking for ways to keep people motivated and moving.
Tracy Lee (Master Trainer – Central Ontario)
Tracy is a physiotherapist with 15 years of experience in neurological rehabilitation and pediatrics and is now a Master Trainer for the Toronto region. She became interested in the ACTIVATOR and Urban Poles for use in therapy with her clients and became hooked on Urban Poling for her own fitness. She is happy to have introduced Urban Poling as part of her workplace wellness program and runs twice-weekly lunch walks.
Jessica Lewgood (Southern Saskatchewan)
Jessica Lewgood is a graduate from the University of Regina with a Master’s of Science in Kinesiology and has been as a Certified Exercise Physiologist (CEP) since September 2007. Jessica has worked with a full spectrum of clients, from those in the rehabilitation setting to elite athletes. With the training she received from Urban Poling, Jessica has been able to utilize the Activator Poles with her special interest populations of those who are deconditioned, have impaired balance, or suffer from degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Osteoarthritis.
For moderately steep slopes, simply decrease the pressure on the base of the handles or drag your poles behind you. For steep slopes, keep your poles upright and in front and out to the side slightly, so if you do fall you won’t land on your poles. Bend your knees and elbows, and slow down any momentum. For long descents, it may be helpful to lengthen the poles.
–Barb Gormley, Director of Education
Tips from the Best