We are kicking off the New Year by acknowledging two Wendi Paterson award winners who show us what is means to embody a fitness mindset: Gabrielle (Gaye) Blake and Ron Ross. Thank you both for sharing your inspiring stories!
In 2018, FitWALKIreland, a promoter of ACTIVATOR poles in Ireland, developed a special indoorActivator Program designed to introduce older adults to the benefits of the poles in community settings. One of the participants was an 89 year old “young at heart” woman called Gabrielle (Gaye) Blake. She attended a 4-week Activator Program in Naas County, Kildare which was hosted by The Kildare Sports Partnership as part of their Age Friendly Activity Initiative.
Gaye thoroughly enjoyed the experience and pleasantly surprised The Kildare Sports Partnership by asking if she could be trained to introduce the program to older women in her local village of Prosperous. When checking out her credentials, they discovered that Gaye had been a yoga and holistic therapies teacher for over 50 years – and was a founding member of the Irish Yoga Teachers Association. Her passion and experience surpassed all expectations and Gaye went on to take the FitWALKIreland’s ACTIVATOR Trainer Workshop in early 2019 – in the company of other trainees that were young enough to be her grandchildren!
What can I say about my Urban poles? Before hearing about the poles, I was using a cane to assist me with my walking, but it just didn’t do the job. I was then introduced to walking poles through my local YMCA Diabetes Wellness Program. That did it! I searched the Urban Poling website to learn more about them and a short 10 minutes later, I ordered my first pair of poles. That was in late October 2018.
Have the poles helped my walking? You bet! I found that I no longer have back pain because I am not bending over like I was when was using my cane. I also feel more confident knowing that the poles provide more stability and will help prevent me from falling, should my ”wonkey” knees give out on me. Another positive is that by using them on my walks, almost daily, my quads have strengthened and I have progressed from doing a half mile in 15 to 20 minutes to doing 3 miles in less than 1 hour.
My Urban poles go wherever I go. Last spring, while in Halifax, I found that the poles helped me to go up those steep inclines because I could “push” myself up those hills and use them as my ”brakes” when walking downhill. At Christmas I’m taking them to Europe with me too as I visit the Czech Republic and Poland.
Would I recommend these poles? You bet! Being a senior, I often meet other seniors on my walks who ask if the poles have helped with my walking. I then end up seeing some of them using Urban poles, too.
Finally, let me add that you can set your own personal objectives with your poles. Mine was to go from home to Lakehead and back by Christmas 2019. So far my poles have helped me walk 1,647 miles (2,650 km) of my 1,804 miles or 1,744 km. I still haven’t reached my destination yet but I’m getting there. As the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”